Article by Holiday Hutchinson | Photography by Matt Hubbard | Owl Staff

Taking a hiatus from social media was much more difficult than I imagined. This decision was the result of many months of negative self-esteem, which I soon realized had become directly correlated to the amount of time I spent scrolling through Instagram.

I had previously forgone Twitter and Facebook and never looked back. For some reason, Instagram was the one platform I continued to hold on to, but it was time. I held down my screen until every tiny icon started dancing and the grey ‘X’ appeared. One by one, I tapped my connections with the online world into digital oblivion.

I was determined to succeed, and in my own mind, deleting an app didn’t need an announcement. What I was not prepared for were the reactions of my online companions when I encountered them in the real world.

They were affronted by my absence on social media and took it personally. I heard things like, “Well, I was hoping you would be at the party, but evidently you were too busy to even respond to my invite on Facebook” or “I DM’ed you on Instagram three weeks ago. I guess you aren’t able to house sit this weekend?” I’d unwittingly committed a major social faux pas.

Sadly, but not unexpectedly, I missed out on many social opportunities during my time away from social media. I think it was this lack of communication and decline in my social life that prompted my online return. I returned to Instagram, and Instagram only.

My explanation post received over 200 likes and several comments, while my average post interaction before my hiatus generally fell around 70 likes, with the odd comment here and there. Leaving digital platforms earned me more commendation than my high school graduation.

One thing that stood out to me the most upon my return was the amount of people who said things like, “I wish I could leave social media.” My time away forced me to become aware of just how dependent we have become on these platforms. I decided to rejoin Instagram because I love documenting my life in photos, and I now have a list of guidelines I follow.

By instilling ground rules for my daily media consumption, I have learned how to monitor my mindset and my emotions. Simple things help, such as not allowing myself to check my notifications until after I have made my first cup of coffee in the morning or sleeping with my phone across the room.

“Leaving digital platforms earned me more commendation than my high school graduation.”

Since ending my hiatus, I have gone through phases where I delete my apps all over again. While it may seem a small feat to achieve, these “mini-cleanses” have become a welcome reset for me.

At times, it feels as though there’s an entire set of unwritten rules we impose upon ourselves when it comes to things like liking, commenting, re-tweeting, re-posting, sharing or otherwise engaging with our “friends.”

Taking a little break from the social grind and getting some fresh air can be wondrous in helping with stress and maintaining emotional balance.

Sometimes we just need to disconnect.

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