by Emelia Gauch
When I was in 8th grade, my school took my class on a trip. It was a Jewish private school and we went to Israel for 2 weeks. It was a wonderful experience and everyone enjoyed it a lot. The only problem was we didn’t have Wifi or data for the entire time, and for a group of 30 teenagers, this seemed like the end of the world. The first few days, all of us were worried about losing snap streaks or not being able to check Instagram, especially me. It almost felt like I had separation issues with it. Every few seconds I would feel the itching need to just casually scroll through my feed, or SnapChat my friends back.
Of course, this stress faded after about 5 days and we all realized that there was literally nothing we could do about it. It was the first time in maybe 2 years where I spent no time on social media or my phone in general. The overwhelming desire I had to constantly check what was going on online disappeared. It was when I got back from Israel that I realized that I didn’t really miss it.
On social media there’s a constant pressure to display yourself in the best possible way. As an impressionable 14 year old, with posting things came indescribable pressure and stress. I would check almost desperately the amount of likes I’d gotten on my last photo compared to that of my friends. From the amount of snap streaks I had to the amount of accounts following me, it always felt like I didn’t have enough people interested in my life. I felt less popular than my friends, less likable, and less pretty. However, not being able to check social media for two weeks helped me learn something. Social media is completely fake. The things you see there aren’t real life, they’re what people want you to see about their life and what they want you to believe is real. It’s all made up. It sometimes feels like it’s designed to make people feel bad. So I decided to delete my social media apps, not my account but the apps off my phone. As soon as I did it, my productivity went up. That’s not to say I didn’t miss it. My friends would be talking about something they’d seen or sent each other online and I wouldn’t know what they’re talking about because it all happened over a group dm. But in the end though, I didn’t really regret it.
The problem was I was in 8th grade, I was leaving all my old friends and I was going to a new school. How was I supposed to connect with people if it wasn’t over social media? How was I supposed to know what was going on in their life? I redownload it at the beginning of ninth grade and it was fine for a while. But it didn’t make me any happier than I had been before. I was more easily distracted because I wanted to check my phone and it was harder to get work done. Not to mention, being 15 years old doesn’t make you feel any less insecure then being 14 years old does. If anything, in my experience, it makes you more insecure. So in January of 9th grade I deleted it all again. I got my homework done quicker, I procrastinated less and in the end I didn’t feel any less connected to my new friends.
Stopping doing something you feel obsessed with can be hard, but in the end, doing it helped me become a more self-aware person who sees their self-worth as something beyond others approval.