The Impatient Patient: The line between a social media binge and cleanse

By Renee Wang

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In my freshman year, I bade goodbye to “likes” and dog filters as I deleted first my Instagram, and later my Snapchat account. For the next year or so, I likened myself to living off the grid — the social media grid that is.

My motivations for such a social media cleanse were simple: I thought that by removing social media from my life, I would be removing a major distraction. I expected immediate benefits from such a cleanse — my self esteem would improve, no more “FOMO” or fear of missing out and less time wasted.

To be truthful, removing social media from my life had a minimal impact. According to a study by the University of Oxford, the connection between overall satisfaction and social media usage accounted for less than a percent of our emotional wellbeing. One of the reasons for such a disconnect is that we place too much burden on screen time.

As we continue to refine our relationship with social media, we need to ask ourselves: where do we draw the line? As I straddled the line between completely giving up on and immersing myself in social media, I realized that it was less about screen time, and more of what we make of social media.

According to The Inquirer, meaningful interactions are the key to make one feel less lonely, and more apart of a community. The article states that virtual interactions, especially when you are more vulnerable, may instead become a replacement for real life interactions. And, real life interactions cannot be replicated by an emoji, or a “LOL.”

While I wholeheartedly agree that social media interactions should never be a replacement for real life interactions, there is a certain quality to social media interactions that we cannot ignore.

Placing too much blame on social media crowds out its benefits. While we cannot fill ourselves on follow requests and “likes,” we can become full on meaningful acts like a song shared by a friend, or a meme sent by someone because it reminded them of you. While it may be over a screen, the intent is still there.

It is impossible to subsist entirely on reactions over a screen. But, it can also be lonely to deprive yourself of meaningful forms of digital communication.

So, before you hit delete, perhaps hit deactivate first.

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