A week without social networks. Like a scent of freedom.
Ah the networks... it's still an incredible invention. You can hear from your friends at any time, debate for hours with strangers, get informed, get inspired, have fun, share your work, your art, advertise, or just show off... But we can also, and above all, do shit and waste a lot of time.
Personally, I spend on average, and have for several years, 4 hours a day on the networks. (Networks being limited to Facebook and Instagram, having passed the age to go on Snap and Tik Tok, thank god (I dare not imagine the number of hours I will spend there, otherwise.))
Spending 4 hours a day on the networks, even if you don't just scroll there, is way too much, you will agree. Because when you spend so much time there, you're not going to lie to yourself, it's mainly because you can't help it. Instagram? I'm completely addicted to it, it's distressing, but that's how it is. As soon as I have a mini drop in speed, a mini beginning of boredom, that I need to give myself a countenance, to reassure myself, to comfort myself etc... I draw the laptop and I slide directly on the app. I have however disabled notifications for months and have relegated it to the secondary pages of my office, but nothing helps, I go back to it again and again and again, in the same way that I used to unblock my exes toxic, every 4 mornings.
Except that... the toxic exes... it's been a little while since I managed to get rid of them, as well as many other demons. Lately, I feel that I'm stronger, that I can more and more detach myself from my addictions of all kinds. What if I had become strong enough to also detach myself from the last arrival? 4 hours a day!! 4 hours, what. 4 hours that I could spend reading, studying, walking around...
Come on, it's today. Today that I apply my good resolutions, today that I test my resistance to lack and frustration, today that I challenge myself, today that I make efforts.
Today I cut everything. But just for a week. Do not make fun of it.
Day 1: Wednesday.
It is exactly 5:10 p.m. After announcing on my Insta account that I was taking a break, I am surprised to see that I respect my commitment the second after. Neither one nor two, I uninstall Instagram and Facebook. Not without a touch of panic. For a moment, I'm afraid I haven't read (and responded to) all of my latest posts. But I resonate quite quickly: and then after? Will the world stop spinning if it does?
This is the beginning of letting go. I'm starting to say goodbye to one of my biggest addictions. I feel super strong and proud of myself!
5:17 p.m.: damn I forgot to uninstall Messenger. I have a notification, it annoys me. I force myself not to read what I was sent and uninstall it as well.
After being annoyed, 2 days ago, to have taken with me my pack of cigarettes, instead of having left it in the car (where I usually hide it to smoke only 2 or 3 max per day), I definitely don't recognize myself.
5:20 p.m.: I don't know what to do. The lack is already felt. Oh yeah, it's scary to see how dependent we are on it... It reinforces my idea that I did well. It was really time for me to learn to live by myself and myself alone, with no palliative at hand when I need reassurance. I decide to listen to my body to find out what I really want to do. He tells me to go take a nap. (I think, mostly, he feels like running away into some other comforting activity to forget the lack, but let's face it.)
5:26 p.m.: I am in my bed. I'm already thinking about when I'm going to reinstall the networks. I tell myself that I should allow myself time slots. Like, 1 hour per evening and all Sunday. Something like that. Reminds me of when I quit coke. Unable not to take any if there were any in front of me, I first granted myself planned gaps. Only on weekends, then only on Sundays, then only when I was offered some. Then I ended up (after years, all the same) by succeeding in knowing how to refuse when someone offered it to me.
I hope it won't take years also for the networks...
Well, the siesta we said.
6:46 p.m .: So... I exceeded the 30 minutes planned but that's okay, I've already done much worse. What a strange awakening. Usually the first thing I do is grab my laptop and go online. This time I stayed in my bed for five minutes, completely lost, wondering once again what I could do... my mind started to wander and I remembered that I was keeping a diary of this dependency exit.
Very practical this chronicle, all the same, for a smooth weaning...
8:14 p.m.: I decide to go shopping. Yeah, so late. I've been telling myself for weeks that I should start cooking healthy stuff. Let's take advantage of this renewed will to do it too. Today is the day of good deeds.
8:16 p.m.: by reflex, I took my cell phone and looked for Instagram, I slid mechanically several times before asking myself what I was doing... It had become automatic...
9:35 p.m.: my toxic ex returns by text. After several months without news. This confirms to me that I am not crazy: it was indeed him behind the fake malicious accounts that followed me. I block his new number. I am the strongest in the whole world.
10:59 p.m.: a friend sends me an Instagram link via Wattsap. I resist. He tests me that he tells me... I am the strongest in the entire solar system.
11:30 p.m.: I used to scroll through Instagram before going to bed. A bit like a nursery rhyme to fall asleep. It makes me feel weird. I have to learn to reassure myself, all alone, with nothing, they said. Too tired to read, I fall asleep straight away. I am the strongest in the world, of all the solar systems and the universes combined.
Summary of the day: I feel like quitting for the first time. I'm a little lost, I have to replace habits, but the good news is that I replace them with healthy things, like cooking. I'm super proud of myself. Plus, my laptop doesn't need to be charged at the end of the day. Also not insignificant point to take into account for this more than positive balance sheet.
Day 2: Thursday.
8:36 am: I lie in my bed and I don't know what to think. I try not to think of anything but I feel like I'm falling asleep again. So I try to think about what I'm going to do with my day. Achille comes to give me a hug. He's glad that, for once, I don't have my cell phone in my hand. I get bored pretty quickly and end up getting up.
2:17 p.m.: I smoke one of my 2 cigarettes for the day and that's the only time I think about networks. Usually, I scroll the cigarette time. Finally I smoke it quickly and the desire passes immediately. Note for later: if I don't smoke at all I won't need Instagram to keep me busy.
6:20 p.m.: I stayed longer than usual at the escalation. I don't know if that has a relation. On the other hand, the fact of having spoken with absolutely the whole room necessarily has one.
I realize that I spent a lot of time chatting via Instagram. Between my daily thoughts that I shared and the friends with whom I continued the discussion in private, I think it took me a good 1 hour (or even 2) per day out of the 4. So, I miss it. I need to socialize. On the other hand, I don't really know if I prefer to do it in real life or via the networks. Via the networks, I can (better) choose who I talk to and above all, what subject I want to talk about. Note for later: no need for networks to call friends back in Paris.
7 p.m.: I cook the vegetables I bought the day before. I'm tempted to go on Instagram to look at some recipes. I remember that I can't. I refer to Pinterest.
I miss creating as much as socializing. If the "story" function of Instagram stimulated my creativity, I compensate by creating recipes and imagining the next activities that I want to experiment.
11:42 p.m .: I still wonder if I'm missing any messages and what the reactions have been to my last stories, but that doesn't bother me for very long and I fall asleep quickly.
Summary of the day: overall it's not too hard in fact, I thought about it a thousand times less than the day before and the automatisms are already starting to go away. I realize that I socialize more in real life, that I use my creativity on things other than story sharing and that I have better quality time for myself. I listened to more music and podcasts than usual and took inspiration from Pinterest to find recipe ideas and tattoos (yeah, nothing to do).
Day 3: Friday.
10 a.m.: I needed to contact someone whose number I don't have. I put things into perspective and tell myself that nothing is serious or urgent and that my challenge is more important.
3:36 p.m.: I start a book again that I had stopped because I had to concentrate (and therefore, make an effort). If the urge still takes me to flee on the networks when boredom appears the tip of his nose or that efforts must be made somewhere, I quickly end up finding the courage to start much more interesting activities.
8:52 p.m .: I have much more inspiration. I have just written on many subjects. By not surfing the networks my brain is free and it fuses. Dozens of new ideas come to mind. Which I note on my laptop.
Now that my phone is no longer associated with the networks, when I take it I really go to my notepad to write. When I think of the number of times I forgot ideas because, in the meantime, I had mechanically opened Instagram instead of Wattpad....
11 p.m.: I danced alone in my living room for about 2 hours. I did it intuitively (thanks Maïlys for the idea), without looking at myself in the mirror, simply letting myself be carried away by the music. It did me a world of good not to feel judged either by myself or by others. Would I have done it if I had Instagram at my fingertips? Certainly not.
Summary of the day: I am strongly considering stopping the networks definitively, I realize that I am much better off without it. But, I still want to share my texts or my chronicles and it's the best way. So I will have to find a solution.
Maybe slots? Limit myself?
Day 4: Saturday
3:40 p.m.: I went to buy some colored pencils, sheets and a cork board. This is the material that I need to carry out the exercises proposed in the book that I am reading.
I keep telling myself that shutting down the networks was the best thing I could do.
It reminds me of when I was unemployed and in a relationship for years with someone who reassured me. I had known a somewhat similar period where I had had time for myself where I had put my creativity to work. I loved that period. I was in training so I learned a lot of stuff and tested a lot of new experiences. I wrote my 2 novels, made my family tree, learned the basics of pastry etc... And if Instagram already existed, I didn't need to satisfy my fears, nothing to share and therefore didn't experience the need to go there. It wasn't until I had to promote my first book that I really started using the app. Then when I broke up, the addiction happened...
Summary of the day: I spent hours cooking and writing. Then I watched culture shows. I haven't thought about it all day (except to write my column). I believe that immersing myself in networks instead of moving (more) my buttocks to do things that are good for me but which require a minimum of effort (like learning to cook vegetables for example) allowed me to stay in my zone. of comfort. As I was afraid to start new habits (and out of laziness, too, surely), I found excuses. My favorite: the lack of time. It is sure that when we spend 4 hours a day on the networks, time, we don't have much left...
Day 5: Sunday
10 a.m.: I'm in my bed deep in thought. (That's the advantage now, I'm not in bed scrolling, but thinking.):
Of the 4 hours that I spent on average on Instagram and Facebook, I spent about 1h15 creating and sharing my writings/my thoughts etc... 1h scrolling on non-targeted entertainment (because we know that it's Instagram that decide for you), 30 minutes scrolling on things that really interested me and 1h15 chatting with humans. (All that, of course.)
However, now that I no longer have Instagram, I obviously continued to do all that, but the time allowed has changed.
I realize that I spend a lot more time (3 hours) putting my creativity to work, in cooking or writing, for example. Much less time entertaining myself (15 minutes) with uninteresting things, like watching shitty TV shows, for example. Much, much more time to inspire or cultivate myself (2h). And about the same time to socialize (but I must admit that the discussions are of lower quality, at least for me).
So, I conclude that there are advantages to no longer being on the networks: we let ourselves be less entertained by shit, we save time for other much more rewarding activities, but that there are ALSO disadvantages: human exchanges elevate me less and I no longer share my writings at all.
The question is: how to find a compromise to enjoy the benefits without sinking into addiction?
Well, listen, I don't have the answer yet.
1:30 p.m.: I'm with my family and my cousin tells us about her weekend in Saint-Tropez. Everyone knows what she's talking about. They saw the stories. I feel a bit left out but am still happy to see the live photos. Ah, here it is, another disadvantage: I liked myself, being aware of what the people I liked were doing without having to harass them with messages and phone calls (which I am not, anyway, not fond.)
6:17 p.m .: I am writing and I realize that my texts are more worked out, funnier too. I feel like no longer having the pressure to tell myself "it has to be perfect because I'm going to post soon" makes my work better.
Summary of the day: not being aware of my cousin's weekend didn't kill me. Not posting the pictures I took during the day didn't kill me. Not writing my Sunday story didn't kill me. And my texts are of better quality. But what are the people asking for ?
Day 6: Monday.
12:30 p.m.: I am in bed. Big bronchitis or flu, I'm not sure. Without a cell phone, stuck in my bed, the day will be long. I understand that when I don't have the strength for anything, the networks come in handy to keep me busy. I move the TV into the bedroom.
4:41 p.m .: they are strong Instagram anyway. I receive an email (and a notification even though it's not even my main mailbox) to remind me that I have unread messages and new subscribers. NO, I WILL NOT YIELD SATAN.
11:34 p.m .: failing to scroll on the networks, I watched the first season of Bridgerton. I heard about this series on Instagram. Another proof that sharing is good, sometimes.
Summary of the day: I exploded the entertainment quota.
Day 7: Tuesday
1:58 p.m.: I slept for 12 hours straight. I didn't even think of looking at Instagram when I woke up and yet without strength, I'm bored. In fact, entertainment is good, but only when you can really really do nothing else.
5:06 p.m .: As I regained some energy and started sorting through my clothes closet, I didn't even think about the networks anymore, except to write my column for the next day.
The change is impressive.
7:23 p.m.: in front of the mirror in my bathroom, I'm on the verge of regretting having to reinstall the apps in less than 24 hours. I really want to continue the network break, but I also know that there are things I want to enjoy again and that I will, therefore, reinstall them.
11:08 p.m .: I end my column without having found the solution to benefit only from the advantages of networks without their disadvantages. It would be about being able to share my writings, discuss and be inspired by strangers without falling into the search for easy pleasures that are uninteresting entertainment. I tell myself that I will continue this short break until I find a compromise with myself.
Summary of the day: I'm worried about reinstalling Instagram in the same way that I was worried about going out after the first lockdown...
Review of the week
I'm super proud of myself. Not only did I manage to hold on, but it wasn't as difficult as I had imagined. I had a wonderful week. I tested lots of new activities, stimulated my creativity, cultivated myself, took advantage of my family etc... Even if I was already doing all this in normal times, I devoted much more time to it and, above all, I didn't need to reassure myself through the gaze of others. I feel liberated and strong. But, at the same time, I miss some things. Not as much as I thought, but still. Lively discussions with personalities that you don't meet on every street corner, seeing what my (few) friends (who post) are doing with their days, some interesting public accounts that I followed and, of course, being able to share there my writings... It's not much but just for that I love networks and I don't intend to do without them.
I know that the hardest part will be to manage to resist once the apps are reinstalled. I'm already starting to worry. It's much easier to hold on when temptation isn't at hand...
The problem (and genius) of networks is that everything is concentrated in one place: creativity, inspiration, sharing, socialization and entertainment. We can quickly mix everything up and slide towards the search for an almost automatic immediate pleasure that brings us nothing but a brief moment of satisfaction. Especially when everything is done to encourage us to stay there as long as possible...
If everything is not to be thrown into the networks, knowing how to find a balance is, I think, necessary in order not to sink into addiction. Social networks, like all the other tools that the modern world makes available to us, can be great, provided you know how to use them. I will try to remember that.