Me: ‘Hi, my name is Mayra and I’m addicted to my phone’. The rest of the world (well almost): ‘Hi Mayra’. I kind of felt like that when I was about to start my social media and Whatsapp detox week. I thought it would be hard. I thought I would check my phone all the time. I thought I would struggle with not being able to connect. But my social media detox showed me something completely different. Something unexpected and much more important.
I checked out late Sunday evening, around 00:30. Technically it was early Monday morning. When I woke up I was kind of excited about my experiment. Normally I would check my phone the minute I wake up. Scroll down Instagram, have a little like spree, check out Facebook and Twitter. My e-mail of course. And let’s not forget about Whatsapp. Every morning I would have messages and also start some conversations that would end up lasting all day. But today I didn’t. I woke up and got out of bed right away. Had breakfast. Called one of my best friends. Who said: “Hahaha, it’s only 9:20, your experiment just started and you’re already calling me?”. She told me that another friend texted her a print screen with my name on the Facebook chat ‘active 20 minutes ago’. I wasn’t really online but when I opened my laptop that morning I saw my Facebook wall. I immediately closed it and hoped that I was quick enough. But I obviously wasn’t. I do feel social pressure: I don’t want to fail my own experiment.
After talking to my friend I went to the gym. During the day I did check my phone quite often. I would press the ‘home-button’ to immediately realize that there would be no messages on my screen. I was also checking my e-mail more regularly. Hoping for a message maybe? Craving some attention or contact? I’m not quite sure. I worked all afternoon. Made fresh soup as a dinner. Watched a movie with my bestie/roomie and her boyfriend. I enjoyed the couch potato evening even more without my phone in my hand. I didn’t miss it at all. Quite honestly, I surprised myself. After that I slept like a baby.
The next day I wake up realizing that I actually had a dream about checking my Instagram. Withdrawal much? I feel the need to check my phone in the morning when I’m still in my bed. Would it be okay to check my e-mail on my phone?, I ask myself. Why would I want to do that? I can just get up and open my laptop. I kind of annoy myself. This is addict behaviour. I have trouble focussing on my work and catch myself wanting to check my phone. I don’t really know what I hope to find. I get an e-mail from Carina, a model friend from Germany, who tells me she’s in Amsterdam and wants to meet up. I finish my work and show her around my city. We take a couple of pictures and I realize how much I would normally share online. I like to take photos and think of my Instagram account as a photo diary. But now that I don’t get to share my pictures the need to make them is decreasing. It’s not top of mind anymore.
On Wednesday I’m crazy productive. And I feel good. More at peace. I have more head space. I know myself as an over-thinker but the last two days my mind is at ease. I sleep at night instead of lying awake thinking about everything that is going on in my life. Or everything that could be going on in my life. I’m very good at making up drama that actually hasn’t happened -and probably never will. Maybe I have to be a scenario writer one day. My mind wanders in mysterious ways. I get the feeling that my phone and social media add a significant part to my quite often agitated state of mind. And I feel like after this week I need to find a way to balance things out more so that I don’t fall back into the social media trap and basically lose my peace of mind again. Facebook sent me an e-mail today telling me about the things I have missed since the last time I logged in. Three friends requests. Three messages. Twenty notifications. Fifteen pokes. And more nothingness. Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t like my social media detox I guess. Mark needs to get lost. At least, for now.
Thursday is a crazy day for me. I got up at 7.30 to write an article and at 10.30 I get on a train to Dusseldorf for a shoot. In the train I need to write an interview I did for a magazine. When I arrive in the studio I meet Carina again. Two times in one week, yay! Modeling involves a lot of waiting. Waiting to me equals checking my phone. Today it is different. I took some pictures because the sunset was lovely but for the rest of the time my phone was in my bag. On my way back to Amsterdam I’m surrounded by people staring at their phones. It’s like our phones are our new best friends. Our gateways to contact. Minor detail: we miss so many things looking down at those freaking screens. I see and notice more now that I’m not on my phone all the time. When I’m talking to someone I’m really talking to them. I don’t check out during the conversation to check my social networks or Whatsapp. I feel ashamed that I used to do that. It’s crazy behaviour. It really is. And I feel very strongly that I want to stay away from that after this experiment.
Friday I have a very social day. I had lunch with a friend and she was running late. So I had to wait for like fifteen minutes. Instead of diving into my phone I just sat there and enjoyed my coffee. When I saw my friend it felt like it was ages ago since I last saw her (in reality I saw her last week, but we normally talk on Whatsapp every day). We talked for hours. Came up with some great ideas for work. Had lots of laughs. I felt energized. Shortly after that my brother called to see if I had time for a drink. The same thing happened. Great convo. Real talk. Energy flowing. I felt truly happy. A lot of social stuff can drain me, but it feels more balanced now. I never realized that social media and Whatsapp consume such a big part of my energy. This experiment is teaching me so much. I go to bed early and read about 50 pages from the book ‘Girlboss’.
On Saturday I wake up very early and try to fall asleep again but I can’t. I decide to stay in bed and read. I end up reading the whole book and leave my bed four hours later. I can’t remember the last time I was so focussed while reading a book. I’ve gotten so used to doing something with my phone close to me. Checking it every 5 to 10 minutes. During the day I take a walk around the canals, accidentely shop a lot of clothes and at night I reorganize my closet for hours. I do notice that I’ve checked my phone a bit more today. I was too lazy to turn on my laptop so I used my phone to check my e-mail. And I get kind of curious about Instagram. After four days of hardly thinking about it, I feel the need to snoop around again. But Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp are still not on my mind at all. I really enjoy the phone calls I have with my friends and family this week. Whatsapp is just an easy way to do a quick check in. And a very superficial one too. But for some reason I end up in hour long conversations. Maybe this has to do with the fact that I really suck at small talk. So even on Whatsapp I try to get into real talk. Something I obviously need to stop doing from now on.
On Sunday I’m kind of sad that it is the last day of my social media detox. If it wasn’t for work that is waiting for me I could easily add another week or two. This last week has been the best thing I’ve done for myself in years. Literally checking out and realizing that I can. I feel reconnected with life. I don’t want my phone to be my bff anymore. We’ve had some good years together but it’s time to take our friendship to another less intense level. The last couple of years I’ve been so touchy feely with my iPhone it’s absurd. Since I work freelance I am alone a lot, so my phone is an easy way to connect with the world. But in the long run, it’s doesn’t make me a happier person. I got e-mails from Facebook every day trying to seduce me to get ‘social’ again. It annoyed me. I want to take a more retro approach to the new relationship with my phone. More phone calls, less texting. And I’ll check out on a regular basis and go back to detox mode for an evening, a day or a weekend. If you need me or really want to know how I’m doing, call me or Facetime me. If you just want a quick check in, you can Whatsapp me. But I can’t promise I’ll get back to you within minutes or even hours. I’ll probably be busy living my offline life.
I plan on writing another article about my experiences in a couple of weeks. Will I be able to keep the detox alive? Stay tuned!