As I was on my Christmas vacation, I missed the opportunity to swim with manatees because I was busy trying to find signal on the island to upload videos on my Instagram stories. I’m not an influencer, nobody expected my content. It was then that I realized I had become dependent on social media and needed a detox. It feels like smokers trying to quit who feel the sensation of holding a cigarette. And I, too, felt the absence of endless scrolling. I desperately wanted to know if Caroline had given birth to her third child and what name she had given him. I wanted to know if Chris had seen Megan recently because they hadn’t posted any content together for a while, and I was curious about Tom’s recent running activities. I don’t know these people. I simply follow them on TikTok and feel the desire to stay updated on their daily lives.
Analyzing my time when I was “off-grid,” I wanted to truly understand the changes I felt and experienced. I must admit, I have only been disconnected for a few weeks, so I can’t provide an in-depth critique. However, as a media professional, I am trained to sell the impossible. So, let’s proceed. Some things I have proudly achieved in the past weeks: I successfully completed a university course on human behavior during financial crises, and I read three books (imagine how much scrolling I had to do to find time for them). Despite my pride in these accomplishments, what surprised me was not that, nor my initial reasons for disconnecting.
There is an epidemic of loneliness in Australia. 1 in 4 Australians frequently feel lonely. A psychological article published last year stated that social media “can cause tremendous anxiety, pressure to compare ourselves with others, and increased sadness and isolation.” We wouldn’t take a medication with such side effects. However, addiction to the “popular” and “accessible” reactions, notifications, and algorithms that match our incredible obsessions keeps us hooked.
I hope you’ve read this far because this is where I saw the change with my “detox.” After disconnecting from social media, I’ve never felt more connected. I no longer have the ability to see what my friends are doing (and what their friends are doing). This meant I had to make an effort to reach out to them and meet in person. I can no longer be a neglectful friend. Previously, if I saw a friend’s holiday pictures, I thought I knew how their experience was, and I didn’t feel the need to call and catch up. During the few weeks I was offline, friends from all over the world reached out to me, sent me messages, and shared photos of their lives. I truly know how they are, very different from how they appeared online. I’m organizing more meetups because I want to be present and listen to their stories, not just follow their stories.
I wouldn’t say I felt lonely, but I realized that I had created a false sense of connection based on what I saw, while now I truly feel connected. These two feelings are completely different. “The sober curious” are a growing population of people who choose to be more conscious about their consumption, as opposed to the old mindset of “I drink or I don’t drink.” Even reducing consumption benefits our mental and physical well-being.
Apply this mindset to social media. You don’t need to delete your profiles to feel connected. You can choose to set boundaries, such as only connecting for X hours/days per week.
At Carat, we design media strategies based on people, aiming to improve their daily lives. So, if reducing social media consumption would benefit people, how can we sell it to a client who pays us to connect and grow their social media followers? Let’s turn “offline curiosity” into ours. Imagine telling a client to start the “Disconnect Sunday” initiative. #Sundayreset is already a trend, so let the company take control of the idea of complete disconnection for just one day a week to foster better social connections. I choose not to be lonely and to connect with people in the real world for an unforeseeable future.
My name is Phoebe, and I’m addicted to social media. Phoebe Carré is the Creative Solutions Lead at dentsu.
1. What prompted the detox from social media?
The realization of dependency on social media and the desire for a genuine connection motivated the detox.
2. What is the difference between the illusion of connection and real connection?
The illusion of connection is based on what is seen online, while real connection requires personal interaction and engagement in the real world.
3. How can we separate daily life from social media consumption?
Setting boundaries, such as allocating specific hours or days for social media use, can help separate daily life from social media consumption.
4. What options are available for reducing social media consumption?
Reducing time spent on social media, limiting interactions to specific platforms, and engaging in offline activities are some options to reduce social media consumption.
5. How can we communicate with people in the real world?
By actively reaching out, arranging meetups, and genuinely listening to their stories and experiences.
1. Influencer: Someone who influences others through the content they post on social media.
2. Desire: The strong feeling or impulse to obtain something or do something.
3. Epidemic: The widespread occurrence of a disease or idea among people.
4. Psychological article: An article that analyzes and interprets human behavior and reactions from a psychological perspective.
5. Addiction: The strong craving or inability to stop doing something that overwhelms us.
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1. Carat Services
2. More information about Carat