What happens after two weeks with no social media ?

Recently, I have been doing this thing where I would delete all of my social media when my mind is occupied with a lot of things. When I was in college, I would delete all of my social media two weeks before final exams week, so I could completely focus on one thing. 

Now, I’m at a crosswalk in my life where I’m faced with a lot of decisions, responsibilities and therefore, changes. I had a job change, I’m applying for master programs, about to move to a new country after a year and a half in Hanoi, and am going through some adjustments in my personal life. 

I used to think that I needed at least one social media platform. With the amount of new connections we make and networking we do in everyday life, with a full time job, social media has become the most common medium for people to keep in contact and get updates on one another. It is definitely hard to not have at least one social platform in this day and age. Imagine meeting someone and saying that you don’t have social media. It gets awkward when they ask “oh… so do I have to write you an email every time I want to have a quick chat?”. You know if you say “yes! I do use my email to chat”, they would probably ask for your email out of politeness and never initiate a conversation. Whereas if you say “no… but we can do this and that”, you know you’ve already lost half of the interest the other person may have had for you. It’s sad that our first impressions of other people, and their perceptions of us, are linked to the kind of social media we use. However, we are busy, busy people, and so we don’t really have time to work out a fresh, new solution to keep in contact with people. We also don’t want to go through the hassle of having to explain ourselves and hope that people will find the answer interesting enough to continue the conversation. So we just keep adding and adding social media platforms to make sure that we keep in contact with any and everyone, and that we wouldn’t miss out on anything.

But then, I read “goodbye, things – on minimalist living” by Fumio Sasaki. I bought this book on an impulse when I was browsing the books section on Tiki at 2 o’clock in the morning. And it turns out the book was one of the best impulse purchases I’ve ever had. Even though the book has a lot of tips and tricks on how to discard your physical belongings and how to reduce your items to the minimal amount, Fumio’s definition of minimalism is definitely not just about reducing your possessions. Fumio said that to him, a minimalist knows what is truly necessary and important to them, they have the courage to discard things they don’t need, so that they can focus on the things that truly matter. 

I reflected on my lifestyle up until now with the Fumio’s voice on the back of my mind. I can’t count how many times I would delete my Facebook and Instagram account, then download them again because Sam from highschool wants to catch up or Katie from work wants to tag me in a photo. I would download the apps again out of guilt and convenience. I feel bad that if I don’t give them my social media account, they would think I’m ignoring them and that I don’t want to keep in contact, and it’s more convenient to just give them an account name, do a quick chat than to meet up and have an actual conversation. Yes, it sounded like I’m the worst, but I’m not the only one. 

Is social media redundant in my life ? Yes, absolutely. The evidence for that is the fact that I have deleted all my social media for two weeks now and nothing major has happened. Nothing, no houses have burned down, aliens have not invaded the planet, climate change is still a threat, and Sam still hasn’t initiated a conversation since the day he said he wanted to catch up. 

Do I think that living without social media is more beneficial for me ? Yes, absolutely. I realized the amount of time I spent mindlessly scrolling on my phone is ridiculous. Most of the time, I would respond to an important email using my phone, and then, as if I was saying to myself “look at that, you completed something important !”, immediately “reward” myself with 15 minutes of just doing absolutely nothing meaningful on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.

It’s actually scary now that I wrote them down. I felt like deep down, I knew social media was harmful to me. But I didn’t have the courage to cut people off or even to admit that I had to stop. Reading Fumio Sasaki’s story makes me want to own up to myself and change myself for the better. That’s why, I felt like the first thing I would need to do a cleanse of, before my room, is my social media and my habits when using them. And I would say I have succeeded. I feel so much better. I live with less social anxiety. I feel like I have more freedom, more time to do what I truly want. I even have extra time to write this blog post in the middle of master applications. 

I also realized that my mind wasn’t occupied with a lot of things, it was actually occupied with a lot of unnecessary things. When you realize that you have a problem, you’ve already solved half of the problem. It’s great to see some personal development in a period that otherwise would have been very stressful and tiring. If you resonated with my story and felt like you are facing the same problems, read “goodbye, things – on minimalist living”. With Fumio’s personal stories and sincere writings, I’m sure you will be able to relate to the author and find solutions to some of your problems. It is such an amazing feeling to be inspired. 

Next time if Sam or Katie wants to catch up, I will definitely ask them out for a coffee. And I will probably keep my social media away from me for a longer period of time. After all, I’m all about myself these days. And you guys should too.