In Miami

What it’s like to quit social media cold-turkey

Writer Andrew Giambarba took a monthlong hiatus from social media - meaning his Instagram followers didn't see photos like this on his usually prolific and gorgeous feed: @andymiami. Photograph by Andrew Giambarba.
Writer Andrew Giambarba took a monthlong hiatus from social media - meaning his Instagram followers didn't see photos like this on his usually prolific and gorgeous feed: @andymiami. Photograph by Andrew Giambarba.

I am not someone who longs for simpler times. I love technology and the way it connects us across generations and time zones. And I wholeheartedly have embraced social media — Instagram in particular — much to the bewilderment of my kids, who have given my posts more than a few eye-roll emojis.

You can imagine their disbelief (or was it relief?) when I declared that I was going on social media hiatus for the entire month of January. I was determined to get my dopamine fix elsewhere. I also decided to meditate and practice yoga every day, and to switch to a plant-based diet for the month of my social media sabbatical. On New Year’s Day, I deleted the Instagram and Twitter apps from my phone (I have been living Facebook-free since the 2016 election cycle), and off I went into the silence.

Almost immediately, I noticed something: a ridiculous amount of free time. Have you ever pondered what you could do with all the time you spend stuck in traffic? That’s nothing, I discovered, compared to the time that social media eats away. Here’s what else I learned from my time detached.

Screen Shot 3
The author, in a selfie posted to his Instagram last fall. Photograph by Andrew Giambarba.

What’s Good About Unplugging from Social Media 

You Will Be More Present. Instead of spending most down time tethered to my phone, I enjoyed simply being in the moment. It’s OK to be alone with your thoughts, really! It’s OK to read a book before bed (or in the bathroom) instead of scrolling through your screen. It’s OK to have a conversation with the person next to you.

You Will Have More Time. Tons of it. If, like me, you wake up and immediately burn through 20 minutes watching Instagram stories, you cannot get that time back. Without the pull of social media, you’ll have time to contemplate, meditate, exercise, cook breakfast, take the dog on a longer walk — everything!   

You Will Find Peace. Or close to it. In our current sociopolitical climate, Twitter gives me a huge amount of agita. I don’t think I realized just how much it affected my emotional well-being until I stepped away.   

Screen Shot2
His other account, @nowbrewing.coffee, features Miami's best brews. Photograph by Andrew Giambarba.

What’s Not So Good About Detaching from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

You Will Feel FOMO. Instagram and Twitter are ways I keep track of my friends and find out what events are going on around town. I definitely had a case of Fear of Missing Out at first, but that was easy enough to overcome — I just had to make a call or send a text to find out what friends were up to.

You Will Miss Posting. My primary motive for using social media is to support local creatives like chefs, baristas, farmers and entrepreneurs, and I hated that I missed out on posting about some really cool people and events in Miami. 

As spring is upon us, I’m pleased to report that I’m back on Instagram, but investing way less time on there than before. I’m still mostly off Twitter, and I’ve stuck with my plant-based diet about 90 percent of the time. My youngest daughter, 16, seems to be impressed by my willpower and my new zen-like outlook.

Think about detaching from social media for a week, a month, whatever you like. It doesn’t have to be forever, but I guarantee that any time you spend away from the screen will change the way you look at life.

Related: From the Editor – Show Them You Love Them Through Food

  Comments