Features Writer Jasnitha deletes all major social media apps to see what a difference being offline will make!
By Jasnitha Nair | August 24, 2016
Reports have shown that 80 per cent of Malaysians with access to the Internet are also on Facebook. It doesn’t end there, we also have 1.6 times more friends than anyone else in the world! With Instagram’s recent introduction of Instagram Stories (similar to Snapchat!), we’ve just been given more reasons to be glued to our phones – and I’m no exception to that.
So when I was asked to go offline to see if one could survive a week without being connected – this meant deleting Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter off my phone, I honestly did it to show my Editor, Rina that this experiment isn’t going to make any difference. She initially suggested that I go off Whatsapp too (she isn’t a fan of technology), but I knew that just wasn’t practical. 80 per cent of my Whatsapp chat logs are work-related!
I went into this offline exercise thinking it wasn’t going to make any difference but boy was I proven wrong. Not only did I survive, I had such a positive experience. So here are the changes that happened:
#1 I Became Way More Focused!
I always thought I had a short attention span, but guess what, research shows that our brains can only focus on something for as long as 20 minutes. In order to work at your optimum, you should take a quick break every 20 minutes – and that’s what I did.
Studies also show that resorting to social media to take your mind off things or to take a break, doesn’t work. It just serves as a temporary distraction and then you’re back to being stressed out. I can vouch for this as I realised that getting up and talking or bugging my colleagues, reading or flipping through magazines put me in a generally better mood.
I had a timer set for every 20 minutes and at the end of it I’d scurry to the bathroom to stretch (more on this in #2)
#2 I MADE The Time To Stretch
Since I couldn’t scroll through my feeds during my break, I FINALLY took my trainer’s constant advice to stretch. This really made a difference when I did my weight training! I no longer experienced lower back pains which would hinder my workouts. Let’s just say I regret not taking their advice sooner.
#3 I Read More
I needed to do something while I ate my lunch, right? So I started reading up on all the books I had read halfway and read more international magazines which I’d stocked up for future ideas.
#4 I Didn’t Binge Eat
Everyone at the office knows what a big dessert-addict I am, but somehow during the week that I was offline, I ate so much better! I didn’t munch on any sugary treats, at all. The office pantry is filled with sugary treats and I’m always mindlessly reaching for it (and later regretting it while I struggle with my squats), so this came as a huge surprise. It could be a coincidence, or it could be from the fact that I wasn’t constantly looking at photos of pretty desserts on Instagram!
#5 I Slept Better
Sleep has been an ongoing battle for me as I’ve always struggled with it. While I do have a strict bedtime of 10pm (I get up at 5.30am), it usually takes me hours to actually fall asleep. However since I couldn’t browse through my feeds before bedtime, I used the time I had to meditate just to see if it’ll help me sleep better – not realising that just putting my phone away hours before bedtime would do the trick!
Multiple studies shows that the lights from our devices halt the production of melatonin. Melatonin is what your body produces hours before your bedtime to reduce alertness and prep you for a good night’s sleep. (Even I’ve mentioned this study in countless articles but it took this little experiment to finally take heed of the advice.)
At the end of the whole week (do note that previously I’d be on one of the apps at least every hour), I did mention to my Editor that if it wasn’t for my job, I wouldn’t go back online – and I meant it. Everything just felt quieter and simpler. I spent more time talking to my mother after work (the term talking AT her would be more apt as she’s addicted to Candy Crush), slept better, ate better and I was much more productive. I’ve re-downloaded the apps but am only on Facebook and Instagram for work mostly.
Lesson learned from this : Social media is just noise, really.
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