My Social Media Cleanse Experience / by Alexandra Elle

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Re: social media hiatus--Not sure if anyone noticed but I’ve taken a little time off of social media. Love love love you all but #sorrynotsorry for my absence. Everyone needs a break. Was it hard? Yes. Did I️ cheat? Absolutely. Did I️ learn a lot? Hell yeah. No Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc. for an entire week. Why? I️ found myself mindlessly scrolling, draining time and energy into my phone, not being present with social interactions, and generally feeling overwhelmed by it all. I was totally spinning out into a deep scrolling hole of misery, and started and ended every day with an extended Instagram session--both of which contributed to my deepening insecurities. I was just sick of the power it had over me. I’m sure many of you can relate to this sentiment. So I made a blog post documenting my experience, what I’ve learned from it, and any tips for approaching it with a healthier perspective. 

What a week away from all social allowed me—

More time to:

stop

inhale

exhale 

think

dance

dream

create

read

write

plan

sleep

smell

The ability to:

  • Be more present
  • Not trip on my own feet while walking  
  • Be more productive
  • Smile at strangers (that are most likely looking at their phones)
  • Fully immerse myself in nature without the distraction of my phone
  • Stop at a red light and notice a new restaurant 
  • Engage fully in conversation
  • Call up a friend I️ haven’t talked to in a while to check in rather than just look at their Instagram to see if they’re alive
  • Make meaningful social interactions rather than superficial ones
  • Enjoy the full experience of seeing, smelling, and eating a meal
  • Appreciate who and where I️ am and not compare a shitty day to someone’s highlight reel
  • Feel authentic in each moment
  • Focus on the universe that actually matters, not the one in a teeny tiny screen
  • Actually enjoy experiences rather than worry about documenting them for Instagram 

10/10 recommend a social media break for any and everyone. If you plan on doing it, definitely tell everyone you know so that they can hold you accountable if/when you get off track! Set a date and stick to it, even if you mess up along the way!

Ask yourself, WHY is your thumb reaching for Instagram constantly on auto-pilot?

Reasons NOT to use social media: validation from others, mind-numbing entertainment, to compare yourself to others, to see if your crush sees/likes what you're posting

Reasons TO use social media: meaningful connection, inspiration, genuine communication, to support others, to share your knowledge, wisdom, and truth with your community. 

As an influencer, working with brands on sponsored posts is a part of how I make an income. Which takes it from fun to work immediately. I don't really personally care about likes, followers, and comments--but it's how brands dictate how much you're "worth" paying. Validation on social media quickly equates to worth, which is definitely dangerous territory that I need to be aware of (because it's not really true!).

One of the main things that I learned from being away from social media for a week was that none of it is real. If Instagram were to end tomorrow, I would live. That being said, I did feel left out of jokes and when others were on their phones it made me hyper aware of how often people whip out their phones in social settings.

Instagram is  a weird parallel universe with different rules and norms. A big thing for me is driving myself crazy to see if certain people have seen/liked my content. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm gonna be really real with you because I KNOW I'm not the only person that does this! If I haven't heard from someone I want to hear from (ie a boy) for a prolonged period of time, I get straight obsessive about whether or not they engage with my presence on Instagram. Instagram is a form of communication, and whether you like it or not--liking, viewing, commenting, or NOT doing those things is sending a message--regardless of whether it's the intended message or not. I found myself incessantly checking to see if this person validated me on Instagram, which somehow made me feel less rejected in real life. But the only thing is that it didn't--because Instagram really doesn't mean anything to my reality. I was also putting so much time and energy into portraying the girl that I want people to see: cute, sexy, funny, inspirational, smart, talented, cool, not trying too hard, etc. The truth is I may be some of those things and I may not be, but I'm me and it's just exhausting trying to keep up the "perfect" image of how I want others to see me. Instagram isn't you, it's the "you" that you want others to see. It's definitely a part of you, but it's not the whole story.

I definitely believe that all of the time spent on social media drains one's auric field. I felt lighter, brighter and more connected without it. I had tons more free time and was way more productive. I sat in a coffee shop and read 50 pages of my textbook in one sitting with no problem! My focus was razor sharp.

I totally cheated and I'm not afraid to admit it. I downloaded and deleted the app about 15 times, I logged in and immediately logged out a dozen times, and I even posted something and deleted it. Some of this behavior was due to pure addiction, and some of it was to please others. I felt guilty for not posting, for not being there for my community, and for not posting as a way of saying thank you to brands that hosted events that I attended during my week off. Saje Wellness (one of my favorite brands) hosted a lovely brunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Plant Food and Wine as a celebration for their favorite influencers and the support we've offered them. There was no obligation to post, they really just wanted to celebrate us and wish us happy holidays. But they gave us tons of amazing food, and tons of amazing drinks, and an amazing giftbag--and I began to feel guilt boil up in my stomach. I posted in gratitude and my friend Sophie immediately texted me and called me out for breaking my fast. She reminded me that this week was for ME. I'm giving myself a break for MY sanity so I can come back to it with a new perspective. I explained to her that I felt guilty and that's why I posted. She said:

"You 

Don’t 

Need

To 

Please

Anyone

Else"

7 words to live by. I was so wrapped up in pleasing other people that I let my needs go by the wayside during the one week that I set as MY time. My physical presence was all that was required at the event, anything else is extra credit. How much of my social media presence was for other people and what I thought they wanted to see vs. the real me and what I want to share?This was a huge lesson and learning opportunity for me. I vowed to stick to my cleanse for the remaining 2 days.

Although this break was necessary as well as liberating, the world is happening online and I really do enjoy it when it's not taking over my life. 

How I plan on integrating: 

  • Setting aside specific time to use Instagram
  • Stopping myself from mindlessly opening it out of habit and instead look around at my surroundings.
  • Sleep with my phone on airplane mode in another room--starting and ending my day should not involve my phone!
  • Downloading apps that prevent you from using your phone for a certain amount of time

Have any of you tried a digital detox? I would love to hear about your experiences!

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