Let’s face it: Social media has its claws wrapped around society. From the early days of MySpace in 2003 to current platforms like Instagram and Twitter, there’s no escape when it comes to shares, likes and followers.

What used to be a seemingly innocent game of sharing cute cat videos and updating Grandma on how your life is going has now become an all-out brawl of who’s the most popular on every major social media outlet. The number of likes and shares your posts receive has become society’s measurement of worth.

The internet has also become home to celebrity gossip, cyber-bullying and uncensored content that can become physically draining to observe if you’re plugged into it 24/7. I will be the first one to admit that I turn to social media during any spare moment, and it would probably make my stomach turn to add up the amount of time I spend each day glued to my phone.

Although platforms like Twitter and Facebook are a great way to stay connected with distant friends and family, they can also be extremely toxic if they consume your everyday life. Social media hiatuses, or cleanses, if you will, are a great way to recharge your mental batteries. And the great thing about these escapes is that you are in charge of how long you wish to be absent.

If only for a few days or even a week, taking time away from the social hullabaloo has its benefits.

Social media hiatuses are good for your mental health.

In 2014, a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh interviewed almost 2,000 young adults regarding their social media usage. The study combined 11 of the most popular sites, including YouTube and Tumblr. The participants who actively used seven or more of the platforms expressed higher levels of mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety.

Although many other factors need to be taken into account when conducting a study like this, there’s no doubt that those who spend more time on multiple platforms stress too much when things don’t go their way.

The pressures of creating, editing, captioning and sharing content is just not worth the trouble. Adolescence to young adulthood is one of the most impressionable timeframes in a person’s life. If you are constantly comparing yourself to the Instagram models who show up on your timeline, you will never feel fulfilled in who you are.

Take a break, unplug and look beyond what is skin deep so that you can learn to love you for you, not for who Instagram says you should be.

A hiatus will allow you to rediscover the value of face-to-face interactions.

It’s easy to comment on a friend’s picture and say “OMG, you look amazing! We will have to catch up soon!” You might have had good intentions, but the probability of you actually hitting up your friend for a lunch date is slim to none.

Social media allows people to make excuses for not finding time to truly connect with loved ones. The ability to instant message has become the equivalent of spending quality time with friends and family. If you take this privilege away with social media hiatuses, you become accountable to actually put forth effort in meeting with someone.

Being able to share recent events in-person is the most meaningful method of communication. Who doesn’t love tone of voice, laughter and facial expressions when you’re able to update your old friend on a crazy encounter you had last week?

You won’t be missing much.

So what if you weren’t the first to find out that Brandon broke up with Alyssa? Any news that is important enough will reach you one way or another. If someone truly wants to keep you updated, they will contact you personally.

People have become so afraid of missing out on the newest bit of spilled tea that their first instinct is to turn to Facebook for information. If this is you, consider a cleanse.

I know it’s habit to wake up in the morning and immediately check your phone for the latest, but it’s honestly not necessary. Sometimes I wonder if half the things I view are slowly killing my brain cells rather than bettering me as a person.

You’ll start to realize how much free time you have.

According to SocialMediaToday, time spent on social media is at an all time high, and it’s only going to keep climbing: “The average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media everyday, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime.” Imagine how much more productive you would be if you could gain even just a year back that was spent scrolling through your phone.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s nice to come home from work or school and unravel with a drink and some online time. But if this is your only hobby, consider social media hiatuses.

Try to think twice before immediately hopping onto social media when you have spare time. I know it sounds cliché, but even reading a book or going outside to soak up some fresh air will do you much more than staring at a screen.

I have realized how much of a hypnotizing effect social media can have in soaking up the majority of the day if I’m not careful. If you don’t think you can go a full day without checking at least one platform, start small. Allow yourself three “social media check-ins” a day, and once you use them up, you can start again tomorrow.

Once you begin to free yourself of technological chains, you might discover exciting opportunities that were once clouded. Who knows, maybe when you let your screen go black for a bit, you can truly begin to see.

Writer Profile

Tori Ihnen

Fort Hays State University

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