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The Moment I Knew I Needed To Cut Down On Social Media In 2017

12/01/2017 16:28
karandaev via Getty Images

It's 29th December and after days of visits from friends and family, my boyfriend and I are finally alone. I look over at him and realise we're both on the same page....

No, this isn't the start of a 'Fifty Shades'-style blog, it's actually something far more tragic.

On that day between Christmas and New Year, my boyfriend and I had planned to spend some quality time together. We'd discussed potential days out and floated the idea of a cinema trip, but in the process we'd gotten a little distracted.

Instead of exploring a new city or having an overdue date, we were sat side by side on the sofa, mindlessly looking at our phones.

Looking up and seeing a perfect mirror of myself was enough to snap me out of my trance. So this year I'm cutting down on technology (and openly bullying my boyfriend to do the same).

In a bid to spend less time wasting time, I've deleted the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone to make them less accessible. I haven't quite cut down on Instagram yet (due to the fact that it's useless on Safari) but hey, sustainable change is always about making baby steps.

Bizarrely, I have to thank the Channel 4 show 'Humans' for contributing to my moment of post-Christmas clarity. I began watching the series earlier in December and soon became utterly engrossed.

I won't give too much away, but the series is based on a world where robots slowly gain more power. In the ever-changing world, lines become blurred, and characters forget what it means to be human.

Yes it's a fictional programme, but when I noticed us sitting on the sofa I couldn't help but draw comparisons. My phone wasn't planning its own uprising, but technology was still having a negative effect on my life.

Instead of using social media to be part of a positive community, I'd fallen into the habit of silent scrolling. I'd find myself analysing photos of 'that girl from school who I haven't spoken to for six years' , wondering how I'd gotten to 2015 in her timeline, but feeling unable to look away.

I've always been my own worst critic and for too long, social media has enabled a personality trait that I've tried so hard to overcome. Having instant access to other people's carefully crafted lives is a sure-fire way to make you doubt your own progress, even when deep down, you know 80% of social posting is one big facade.

It's not just confidence that I'd lose every time I logged on, but time. Checking Facebook, Twitter and Instagram had somehow become part of my morning routine. When I got too hot drying my hair, I'd reach for my phone, rather than do something useful, like making breakfast. As a result, I'd end up rushing out of the door, feeling flustered because I'd run out of time before work.

It's less than three weeks into my mini digital detox and I already feel more calm. I still instinctively reach for my phone during breaks in the day, but I'm enjoying the act of regaining control, reminding myself that I have my own life to lead and I don't need to see everyone else's.

I haven't completely cut out social media because when used in the right way, it can be a marvellous thing. A friend I made while working in the US five years ago recently sent me a Facebook message to say she'd be in London in May. We're in the process of organising a weekend together and without social media, we may well have lost touch.

So when I sign in to social media in 2017, I'll be asking myself one important question: "is this making a positive contribution to my life?"

If the answer is "no" I'll be putting my phone back down and if anything I've said sounds familiar to you, I'd highly recommend you do the same.

After all, life's too short to spend it looking at a screen, it's time we remembered how to be human.

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