Ever wondered how many hours you spend (waste) glued to your phone each day, entranced by the wonderful world of social media? According to CNN, out of roughly a 12-hour day, nine of those are spent staring at a screen while we lose ourselves in the lives of others.
We spend nine hours a day wishing we had something someone else has, and comparing ourselves to the models we will never look like and the rich people whose lives we will never be able to afford. It’s no wonder studies have shown it to be the “triggering plague of low self-esteem.”
I had truly had enough. I was sick of always feeling like I needed to be going out to give my Instagram some juicy content. I was tired of never being able to just enjoy the moment I was in. I was bored of having to constantly update the world every time I did something fulfilling.
I was stuck in a trap of not wanting to post anything, while feeling like I had a boring life with nothing to share if I didn’t. Social media was part of my daily routine, and it wasn’t easy to cut it out. Cue a spontaneous trip to Croatia with nothing but incredible views, a historic town, wine, carbs and my trusty best friend who was just as eager to escape as I was.
The second I landed, I turned off absolutely everything. I signed out of my social media and switched off all of my notifications. Every form of entertainment was down to some good company and a town that had barely changed since the 17th century. I was ready to take on an experience completely unlike the warped society I am so used to living in.
The second the connection with the world was broken, I instantly felt at peace. My incredible apartment view was all mine; I didn’t have to share it with any of my followers. I didn’t have to worry about trying to make others jealous. I wasn’t at all concerned with comparing my life to others. And from there, it only got better.
My mornings were no longer spent scrolling through my news feed, desperately trying to catch up on the six hours of other people’s lives I had missed. They were spent waking up gradually, with a good book and a breakfast that was as mindful as it was filling.
My days didn’t focus on how all of my friends were spending theirs. I had no concept of time, and every moment was spent exactly how I wanted it to be in that instant. My evenings didn’t have the added task of trying to get the best shot for my Instagram. They were filled with deep, meaningful conversations accompanied by zero distractions.
Without even realizing it, I had allowed my life to become wrapped up in how I wanted it to look to others. Going out on a Saturday night was more about the picture of me in a tight dress (and a hungover selfie the next day) than it was about the night itself. I had become so obsessed with how I looked that I had started to lose who I actually was. Social media had made me out of touch with myself, without me even being aware of what it was doing.
Just one week without it, and I felt like I knew myself better than I had for a long time. I finally grasped how to listen to what I wanted to do, as opposed to what I thought I should be doing. I had stopped comparing myself to everybody else, and I had learned to love the person I was by doing so.
When I got back to reality, I struggled. Being home means I can’t avoid social media. I don’t have the time difference and data roaming charges to hide behind. I have, however, felt a greater detachment from it than I ever have before.
Now, I don’t wake up in the mornings and reach straight for my phone. I have lost the urge to go out just for the sake of it. Above all, I’ve realized the importance of living in the moment. I’ve realized how lovely it is to live a life that’s just for you. I’ve finally balanced out what to share and what I want to experience all on my own.
From Emma Orlando