A Week Unplugged

Senior Summer Vaughn decided to take a week long break from social media, and over this time she learned things about herself and society.


Jordan Hamrick

Teens between the ages of 15 to 18 spend just under eight hours on social media a day, according to washingtonpost.com.


or one week, I made the choice to delete all social media off my phone. This included Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. While I felt bad leaving my followers alone for a week, I wanted to see if it would have effects on me.

I took note of how often I used my phone. My average phone use per day was about fours hours and three minutes with weekly use of 28 hours 23 minutes. That adds up to more than a day, every week. I was curious to see how much the student’s here used their phones. 12 percent spend under two hours, 67 percent of students spend around three to six hours and 19 percent spend seven or more hours.

The very first day I wanted to engage with the people around me more. I would sit down at a table of friends or turn around in a class and they would all be preoccupied with their phones. I would feel like I was interrupting them, but without my own distraction, I felt like I had more to say. I did not tweet when there was something quirky I thought of or Snapchat my friends when something funny happened, I would just talk to the people around me. I even spent time getting to know people I had had classes with before but never have gotten to know well.

More meaningful social interaction is a benefit from social media fasts according to odyssey.com. In the age of media, we tend to have a longing to make as many connections as we can but we forget to nurture and develop the friendships we already have. Ironically, for the age of communications, personal conversations are becoming harder and harder for us to keep. We have forgotten how to function outside of the small world we create with our phones.

The second day of the challenge there was a huge snowstorm, almost trapping us inside, or at least making the outside world seem a little less appealing. On a normal day like this I would be checking social media every few minutes, probably bored out of my mind, however, I could not do that this time. I had woken up about 6:30 a.m., which is early for me on a weekend, but I felt incredibly rested. According to odyssey.com, phones give off blue light and make it difficult for one to fall asleep. I had not checked my phone before getting into bed and the results paid off in just one night.

I even left my phone upstairs in my room when I went downstairs because I did not feel as attached to it or feel the need to have it beside me. According to health.com, the excited feeling you get every time you get a notification or a like on a post is the same compulsive feeling people get playing slot machines; the feeling is termed an irresistible feeling of unpredictability. The cellphone is the new handheld addiction.

One of the insights I have gained is that I do not long for the validation having social media gives me. Instead of constantly being concerned about what is happening or if I am missing out on something, I have been able to reflect on more important things. I am no longer associating people with their social media, their followers or posts, but instead the interactions I have had with them in person.

One day during my fast, I had about an hour I had to wait before a doctor’s appointment. I made the decision to not sit in my car and fill my head with unproductiveness but I went to a cafe, ordered myself a drink and read my book. Often times I have found myself hiding behind my phone, I use it as a shield for awkward moments. Not having that security blanket has made me feel more confident and less reliant on others to lead situations.

Social media creates pressure to look perfect and to present the idyllic life, according to childmind.org. With the images magazines, advertisements and entertainment standardize and now even with friends and classmates seeming to excel at happiness, no wonder it is so damaging to the psyche.

Social media is addictive and abusive. Taking breaks from the never-ending stream of the internet benefits you by allowing you to connect more to others and to build a better relationship with yourself. If you do not think you could last a week, I challenge you to go a day and see what amazing things you can do without being tied down.