I didn’t actually throw my phone in the garbage disposal, that’s a lie. I just dropped it in. Another lie. My phone has seen some darker days but it’s never been demolished by spinning blades, I just needed something to catch your attention. Seeing that you’ve stuck with me this far, it worked.
“I feel like throwing my phone in the garbage disposal. Text me if you need me,” was the last thing I posted on my Snapchat Story before I went off the grid for a month. It was the very end of April and I was not happy. My unhappiness was a result of numerous factors: stress from school, relationship(?) troubles, and drama with friends. While dealing with all of this I became extremely agitated whenever I went on my phone. My social media platforms were filled with people’s online personas. What I mean by an online persona is the way in which a person presents themselves online but not in real life. I noticed the people I knew personally acting like someone else entirely and felt saddened by their forced behavior.
I began to contemplate what it meant to be online. Do I have such a noticeable online persona? Do I act the same in person as I do online? All of us are roped into the internet practically at all times. Here I sit, writing this, and there you are now, reading it. I never see people waiting anymore. Anytime I’m sitting in class before my professor begins their opening lecture or waiting to see a doctor, etc. I notice the people around me on their phones. Switching between different social media platforms, refreshing their feeds and seeing how many likes, comments, or views they’ve gotten on X, Y, and Z. They might look up someone’s profile, a person of romantic interest or a severed friendship. If there’s enough time and they’ve already seen all new content on social media, they might refresh their email inbox or look through old photos. I know this because I’ve done it many times, too.
I needed to get away from it all. I needed a break from the constant notifications which lure me back into time-consuming apps. I needed time. I logged out of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t return to those platforms for a month. Here’s what happened:
THE EVOLUTION OF A DETACHED MILLENNIAL
Phase 1: Wow. I feel so much better. I’m offline, incognito. No one knows what I’m eating for lunch or how frazzled I am over this essay. I am so much more in tune with myself than any of my peers. I think I just leveled up.
Phase 2: Here I am, just laying on my bed and staring at the ceiling so I don’t have to look at the tower of textbooks on my desk. I think I’ll check my phone. Oops, forgot I’m logged out. Doesn’t matter. I didn’t want to be on Instagram, anyway.
Phase 3: I’m really bored.
Phase 4: I have looked through all of my photos dating back to my senior year of high school three times now.
Phase 5: I have so many literature anthologies on my desk.
Phase 6: I wish I could Tweet my annoyance over some obscure interruption of my daily routine which happened just now.
Phase 7: I just took a nice picture. Too bad nobody knows about it, this would probably get at least 70 likes.
Phase 8: I’m actually starting to be more productive because I’m bored less often because subconsciously I understand that I no longer have access to constant distractions.
Phase 9: People have been texting me and asking how I’m doing. They think it’s cool that I’m offline and are curious as to why I did it. Their support makes me feel more confident in my decision and I hope that someday they’ll try a similar experiment.
Phase 10: I think I’ll log back into my accounts someday but for now I don’t feel the need to. I’m pretty content as it is.
I wound up deactivating my Twitter account entirely and I purged my other platforms. What I mean is that I unfollowed accounts of people I don’t actually know in real life and people I do know who happen to annoy the positive out of my A positive blood (I recently donated blood for the first time, what a thrill). I deleted people on Snapchat and Facebook who I haven’t spoken to in years and don’t plan to speak to. Now when I go online I see updates and pictures from people I would enjoy spending one-on-one time with. I’m not flooded with constant stimuli that takes me away from my life. I’ve learned to be more reserved online because I’ve found that there’s no reason for people to know what I’m up to at multiple points each day. I share what I think is worth sharing and there’s nothing I post online that I couldn’t bring myself to say out loud. I’m happier, I’m less stressed, and I no longer feel like the Internet’s puppet.