I Deleted my Social Media for 2 Weeks: Here’s What Happened


Jane Naylor, Staff Writer

I just completed the infamous AP Lang Credo Project–when juniors are asked to choose an activity that will help them explore the five tenets of transcendentalism: self-reliance, nonconformity, the importance of nature, simplified life, and favoring intuition over reason. Popular “credos” include students taking walks with their dogs and leaving their phones at home or practicing yoga and meditation.

I chose to delete all my forms of social media–Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube–a concept which most teens would likely view as absurd and unimaginable. With an average screen time of eight hours and thirty-nine minutes per day and twenty hours on TikTok in seven days, I didn’t think I would be able to complete the challenge.

Undoubtedly, any non-Gen X-er would probably think after a few days disconnected from social media I would be shaking and breaking into cold sweats; however, the opposite happened. 

In a day and age where most 17-year-olds rely on these forms of social media for almost everything–entertainment, laughs, keeping up with their favorite celebrities–there are the negative impacts that most don’t even know are affecting them. According to Meredith Gasner, MD, at a Harvard press conference on digital media and mental health, 84-95% of teens have cell phones, with an average of 7.22-9 hours of screen time daily. Relying on influencers who only show the glamorous side of their lives, experiencing body image insecurities, and feeling jealous of what someone else has can take a toll on our still-developing brains and mental health. 

In the moments leading up to finally removing the hovering apps from my screen for fourteen days, I felt nervous and scared. For the past five years, and especially the past six months because of quarantine, looking at social media had become second nature-a daily routine: Wake up, check social media, go on it throughout the day, and make sure it’s the last thing I look at before I fall asleep at night. Like most teens, I knew I was addicted, but like most addictions, it seems impossible to go without it. Even though I hated the mindless scrolling every day, I couldn’t stop. The AP Lang Credo Project seemed like the perfect excuse to finally do it. It’s sad really, to think I needed a school project to justify the removal of social media from my life. 

On December 1st,  I woke up with no social media presence on my phone. I thought, “Oh, this might not actually be that bad,” until I got bored on a Google Meet and felt the sudden urge to scroll on Instagram or TikTok. Subconsciously, I went on my phone, and my fingers directly led to where the deleted apps once were, specifically Instagram. For days, my thumb repeatedly pressed on what was once Instagram in the bottom right-hand corner of my home screen, only to find the Apple “Voice Memos” app. Even though I knew I had deleted it, my instinct was to open the app. 

After about three days into my social media cleanse, my subconscious finally accepted that there was no longer any social media to look at on my phone, forcing a wave of productivity on me. The amount of homework I got done and how productive I felt was rewarding and refreshing. I had to make a skin model out of a tissue box for my Anatomy and Physiology class, which I was dreading; however, with the absence of social media, I was able to complete it on Monday, and it wasn’t even due until Friday. To balance out the school work, I managed to read an entire book in four days: Cousins, by Karen M. McManus, which I found difficult to put down. 

One routine I picked up was checking the news every morning and throughout the day. I downloaded the New York Times app, which not only has the latest news but is also highly really interactive. One of my favorite features is the “News Quiz” that is put out at the end of each week, quizzing you on the top headlines from the week. They also have games featured like Spelling Bee, Sudoku, and crossword puzzles. Their “2020 In Photos: A Year Like No Other” contained significant pictures from each month of the year from all over the world with descriptions, which was captivating and beautiful. 

When Tuesday, December 14th, rolled around to end my fourteen-day cleanse, a feeling of melancholy washed over me. I didn’t want to feel like I had to go back to my routine of checking all forms of social media in case I miss something; although, I thought “missing what?” I’m very pleased with my decision to delete social media. Having no pressure to feel like I needed to be up-to-date with every person I followed and view all the viral videos was refreshing. After deleting my social media, I noticed I was sleeping for at least nine hours, and not waking up throughout the night. I think this is an effect of not looking at my phone right before bed. In addition, it felt good to be liberated from the endless cycle of mindless scrolling. After all, I didn’t even miss it that much after about a week or so. 

After redownloading, I feel more like I can use social media for fun, rather than a mindless and tedious chore. I’m happy I was able to complete this project successfully because now I know that I don’t need social media to live a fulfilling life, and I certainly don’t need it for entertainment.