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November 20, 2022

A Week Without Social Media Challenge

By Zoe R.
, 11th grade
, from Charlotte, NC

“I wish social media didn’t exist,” I told some friends one night, when I saw a post of an ex having fun at a party. I know I should have blocked her, but then I thought I’d look petty, so instead I kept seeing her posts.

It wasn’t just my ex that made me say that. So many things made me feel bad on social media. People who were more attractive than me. People who were having more fun than me. People who got into certain colleges I don’t think I’ll get into. People that have better style. These can be people I know, or complete strangers, but it doesn’t matter. I still feel bad.

So when I said I wished social media didn’t exist, my friends dared me to quit. “Try it for a week,” they said. They thought I would be back within a day.

But I lasted the week, and the first thing I noticed was how much more time I had. I had no idea how much time I was spending on social media, because I usually just check it quickly and then leave. But apparently I check it more times a day than I thought, and probably stay on longer too.

What I loved most that week was that I wasn’t comparing myself to others. I wasn’t thinking negative thoughts about myself because I wasn’t looking at other people’s lives and measuring myself against them. I also felt less tired and more energetic because I got more sleep. Overall, I felt more relaxed and happier.

So why did I go back on after the week was up? Because there are good things about social media that I missed. I missed the funny posts that make me laugh. I missed knowing what’s going on and finding out later. I missed the posts that made me feel understood, when I saw someone go through something similar to me. So I decided to go back on, but with some rules.

Social media is addictive, so I tracked how much time I was spending and made sure I stayed under my self-imposed daily limit. I blocked accounts that made me feel bad, even if I had nothing against that person. I just know that I can’t help but compare myself in ways that aren’t helpful to me.
I follow accounts that make me laugh, inspire me, or give me tools or information that helps me take care of my mental health.

I think I found a good balance between wishing social media didn’t exist and using it in a positive way. I’d suggest that other people try my Quit Social Media for a Week Challenge, to see if you can come up with your own rules about what works best for you.

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