What Happened When I Quit Social Media & Went Off The Grid

I’d considered deleting my Facebook and Instagram accounts for a while but it wasn’t until I broke up with my long-term boyfriend and moved out of the country that I finally decided it was time. With a little hesitation, I deleted both accounts  Erasing those accounts left me off the grid but the separation wasn’t as devastating as I thought it would be.

Honestly, it was kind of a relief. It felt so good to be out of touch from online drama—no more daily stream of opinions on Donald Trump’s foibles or the latest national uproar on racial discrimination. No more couples flaunting #relationshipgoals posts and then seeing them and their friends taking sides in the breakup months later. I could choose when I wanted to hear the news and who I wanted to hear it from.

I felt like I finally had a bit of privacy again. After breaking up with my ex, I knew I’d be a prime stalking target for him and our former mutual friends. He blocked me from every point of contact but I knew he’d want updates on how my new life was going. I know, traditionally, I was supposed to show off how great my life was after freeing myself from the relationship but disappearing completely has a satisfaction of its own, leaving people wondering instead of knowing what happened to me.

Admittedly, I missed getting likes. Of course, while I enjoyed the privacy, I did miss showing off the cool things I was doing. I was fully aware that I could have some really boss social media accounts now that I traveled more. Just my new home country (Romania) alone has enough novelties to impress my old network back in America. But living in Europe makes it easy to travel and I visited Turkey, Spain, Bulgaria, and Italy within five months of moving. Everywhere I went, I wanted to post pictures to share my experiences and inspire admiration (or envy) from my followers. Still, not having to worry about capturing the perfect picture for social media definitely gives more time for appreciating the present moment.

I found out who my real friends were. Deleting social media is a great test for this. People who’d been liking or commenting on my posts for years disappeared. The fear of losing connections is one of the biggest reasons people hang on to their networks but there are always phone calls and messaging, so it’s not like deleting a platform erases the connection, it tests it. Communication is definitely a two-way street and I know it’s equally my responsibility to maintain relationships and start conversations, but that fact also revealed who I cared about enough to stay in contact.

I had to find different entertainment. Like most people, my social media accounts were my go-to when I was waiting in line or on break at work. Instead of scrolling through my feed, I found other things to do when I have to wait something out. I started reading online books on my phone during long rides with public transport or while I’m eating alone. When I have less time to concentrate, I flip through pictures on iFunny or Pinterest.

I didn’t feel like it gave me more time. When I hear about the downfalls of social media, its time consumption is often at the top of the list, so when I quit my accounts, I thought I would instantly become more productive. However, since I only spent my idle time on social media, it didn’t make much of a difference. For someone whose accounts interfere with their daily schedule, it would probably have a more noticeable impact.

I think it made me a little bit smarter. This is another expectation that I’ve heard in connotation with quitting social media and it might be true. Cutting off the stream of mostly uninteresting and opinionated content is freeing for the mind, and that stream can be replaced with more productive information, like learning a new language or reading the news.

I started a new relationship and my lack of social media didn’t make a difference. My previous relationship was actually one of the main reasons I didn’t delete my Facebook sooner. I liked posting pictures of us together, celebrating our anniversary and seeing timeline memories, so after that ended, it made it a lot easier to let go. And when my new relationship started a few months later, I didn’t feel like going back to the same pattern. It definitely feels strange not to see my new boyfriend’s online activity, but I trust him. I probably sound naïve, but he doesn’t even have a lock on his phone, so I think I’m pretty safe.

I don’t want it back anytime soon. When I deleted my accounts, I thought I’d probably stay offline for a couple of months at most. After that, I thought I would be itching to get back into the swing of things and open fresh accounts. But it’s been seven months now, and I still don’t plan to return to my old platforms anytime soon. It usually surprises people when they hear about it but my answer is always the same. Maybe someday I’ll get back online, but for now, I’m enjoying being off the grid.

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