Caroline’s Week Without Social Media: Trying (and Failing) to Balance Escapism and Realism

Editor-In-Chief, Caroline, and her views on our week without social media

Caroline Look, Editor-In-Chief

I have been using Instagram since–I believe–sixth grade, and this week was the longest time I’ve been without it in that time. Likewise, during my sophomore year, I got Twitter, and earlier this year, I got TikTok. But, for the week of Monday, Oct. 5, I uninstalled them all and crossed my fingers. 

Nevertheless, I’ll be honest: it wasn’t that bad. 

This was Caroline’s screen time report from the week before the challenge.(Caroline Look)

Partly because, spoiler alert, I didn’t break, despite wanting to. That isn’t to say it was all smooth sailing, and that I didn’t do some pretty unorthodox, for lack of a better word, things in order to try and calm my insatiable urge to mindlessly scroll.

For instance, I wrote tweet ideas on a note in my notes app. I don’t know which is sadder; me doing that in the first place or the fact that I did it on the first day. A fellow editor and I started texting each other tweet ideas a little later in the week which also constitutes as quite sad. 

At one point in the week, my sibling asked me, “Aren’t you done yet?” after I, of course, complained about missing Twitter. I said I wasn’t as this interaction happened on day 5. 

To which they responded: “Wow, I guess you complained so much that I thought more time had passed.”

First of all, burn, and second of all, I think that quote really summarizes my experience from an outsider point of view. 

This was Caroline’s screen time report from the week of the challenge.(Caroline Look)

On a more serious note, I found that the lack of social media made me less distracted which I recognize is hardly a hot take, but it was almost surreal to see it play out in front of my eyes. 

Without going into detail, Tuesday was pretty difficult for me as I was having a rough day, and rather than scrolling and trying to forget, I was actually compelled to act and talk about what I was feeling. That day, I wanted social media back.

Juxtaposed against this was the day before, where I was glad I didn’t have social media as it made me more productive. On Monday, I wanted to work on my Common Application, so I did and did so without stopping my YouTube video or music every 2 minutes to check a Twitter or Instagram notification. That day, I was happy I didn’t have social media. 

I feel like this time, a time amid a pandemic, was the strangest time in which we could have done this challenge. 

People, not just teenagers, wake up each day and crave escapism through their screens. And for one week, and one week alone, I didn’t have that luxury. 

This challenge was especially hard when I was alone, mainly at night. Typically, my nights are spent scrolling on whatever app, liking whatever post while “watching” something on my laptop. Granted, I still did that, but I just substituted my social media apps for another app, mainly Subway Surfers and YouTube, resulting in me staying on my phone about just as long but on different apps. 

On the other hand, this challenge was easy when I was hanging out with friends or family. Because, as cliche as it sounds, I was able to leave my digital world and enter and truly experience the real world.