In praise of the weeklong social media break

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Image: BOb Al-Greene / Mashable

Perhaps your phone has delivered your weekly Screen Time report and you know, in your heart, that it’s time to take a break from social media. This is good. A little break is nice every now and then.

But you don’t need to embark on a full 30-day screen-free detox every time you overdo it on Twitter. Instead, consider a weeklong break. Yes, just seven days. Will it irrevocably change your habits? Probably not. But a valuable break doesn’t have to.

Crucially, you do not have to announce that you are taking a weeklong break from social media. A week is not long enough for anyone to get mad that you have not liked their photo from the farmers market or responded to their DM about someone from high school’s baby. This makes the weeklong break easy to do on the fly. 

Feel gross about the feverish speed with which you opened Instagram as soon as your flight landed? Just delete the app right then and there and set a reminder for a week later. You will face no consequences. (If you’re planning a break in advance, I recommend starting on a Friday. Faced with a social media-free weekend, you’ll be forced to dive into the cold waters of Doing Other Stuff headfirst.)

I take weeklong breaks from Instagram periodically. Sometimes, the constant barrage of impossible bodies gets to me; other times, I’m privately embarrassed by how much I’ve checked who viewed my Story. It’s not that I don’t like Instagram, or that I think it’s ruining my life — I like seeing what my long-distance friends are up to and shopping for vintage clothes and monitoring all the dogs at the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary. I just need a vacation. 

This is what the weeklong break is all about: the idea that social media can serve you sometimes, but be bad other times. Imagine!

There’s a whole obnoxious culture around not being online. People brag about it, people make fun of people who brag about it, people brag about making fun of people who brag about it — it’s exhausting. There are literally hundreds of articles extolling the benefits of the “social media detox”: You will read more books, you will feel happier, you will suddenly take up six new hobbies. This is a lot of pressure — I just wanted to not hate-read tweets for a week, not alter my perspectives on life and death.

When I re-download Instagram after a weeklong hiatus, I do find that the impulse to check it has lessened. Most of the time, though, the impulse comes back after a few days and I’m back to scrolling as usual. This is fine. Being offline does not need to change your life. It’s cool to just log off. If you want, you can log back on later.

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Source: Social Media

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