How Was It?

Posted on December 30, 2018

"I am addicted."

Before I dive into the meat of this challenge, I wanted to introduce myself, and what my connection to social media is. My name is Gerry Lopez, and I am 19 years old. I serve as the youth advisor, and administrative coordinator for the Eagle River Youth Coalition. My connection with social media is pretty simple, I am addicted. From Facebook to Instagram, Snapchat, and more I would spend a lot of hours a day making sure I was in the loop of what everyone else was up to, and how I can make myself seem more interesting through those social media platforms.

30 days without social media may sound like a nightmare for some, and for others it may just be an easy challenge. For me it was a combination of both. I wa scared of missing out, and I was scared of losing the interest of others. “What if that one girl finally sends you a message?”, “What if a celebrity likes your photo?”, “What if you lose all your followers for being so plain?”. These are just examples of questions I had to fight off in order to fully commit on going 30 days without checking my social media platforms.

So why quit? Well, the simple answer to that question is to improve my mental health, and to see what I experience in these 30 days without social media, and let me just say it has been a rocky challenge. The first couple of days was a battle, and I kept checking my phone even though I erased the social media apps from the phone, and I kept scrolling aimlessly through my photo gallery, and music playlists. The only notifications I got were emails from my favorite stores, and news notifications.

It took the first couple of days for me to realize that a Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat notification isn’t going to magically appear to give my mind that dose of dopamine. I needed to distract myself from these thoughts, so I decided to give myself some challenges. The first challenge was waking up earlier, I know we’ve all heard about how successful people wake up early to get stuff done, and I wanted to challenge myself with that. I have been waking between 4:30 and 5:00 am everyday, and using my morning to go for a run, getting work done and meditating. In this time I would only use my phone for music because personally, I can’t run without the song “Runnin’ Down A Dream” by Tom Petty playing on my earbuds. This challenge was difficult because I was that type of person to wake up, and scramble to look for my phone to check what I missed overnight.

The second challenge, which is still an ongoing one, is a combination of two. I challenged myself to read more than 100 pages of a book each day, and become a master on solving my Rubik’s cube. So now, whenever I have free time instead of scrolling aimlessly through my phone, I use that time to either read, or purposely cause myself to have headaches with solving my Rubik’s cube. I believe that these challenges I mentioned really helped me on sticking to the 30 day social media detox because they helped my mind break that habit of checking my phone every 30 seconds.

Instead of doing the usual three pats, and walk out the door, routine I now just walk out the door. For those of you who don’t know about the three pats routine it is what I would do before walking out the door to begin my day. The three pats are pat your pockets for your keys, wallet and phone. Just to make sure I had everything on me. Leaving social media has caused me to forget my phone at home sometimes, since I have occupied my mind with other activities. I pretty much forget I have a phone some days, but I still used my phone to communicate with family and friends, but instead of keeping our conversations all through a screen I wanted that face-to-face time with my friends, and family, and in my opinion this was the biggest, and best, change that came from my social media detox. I shared a cup of coffee with friends who I would usually snapchat, or like their instagram posts. I sat down and caught up with family members on what they are up to, and what I am up to. I spent time building genuine relationships, and getting to know that person, rather than trying to keep snapchat streaks alive.

In the later weeks of this challenge I realized how much time I actually spent on social media. My screen time went from an average 5 hours and 47 minutes a day to just 55 minutes a day. With the realization that I spent a lot of time on my phone, I began using that time for the challenges I set myself, but I also became more integrated in the work that I do. With more time on my hands I started to brainstorm ways I can become a better role model for the youth in the community, and how I can help with all the different organizations I am involved with. Running went from an average one hour and 30 minutes to three hours, and even four. Even though I stopped receiving notifications from social media I didn’t feel alone. I wouldn’t know exactly why I didn’t feel alone, but if I had to guess I would say that having a lot of time to build a better version of myself, rather than being in front of a screen, has been incredibly beneficial to my mental health.

I wanted to do this for many reasons, the main one being to improve my mental health. In the end of this challenge, I may have not become a master of solving rubik’s cube, but putting down my phone helped me create closer relationships with those around me, helped me be more present, and helped me become a better, more efficient, student. I am not saying that social media, or even technology, is a bad thing, they both have their pros, but having too much of something can be harmful. We have plenty of decisions to make in our everyday lives, and I encourage you, the reader, to make the decision to put your phone down. Seek that face to face time with those that you love, and challenge yourself to use your time wisely. We all only live once, so make the decision to live the best life you can.

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Eagle River Youth Coalition - Making Youth a Community Priority
Physical Address: 34520 US Highway 6, C10 | Edwards, CO 81632
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4613 | Edwards, CO 81632
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