No Social Media Day safari

I’ve been spending way too much time on my phone in general, and on social media in particular. It’s affecting my mood, wellbeing, concentration and memory to an extent that’s starting to scare me.

I was really inspired by Michaela Coel’s Emmy acceptance speech in which she said:

“In a world that entices us to browse the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to, in turn, feel the need to be constantly visible — for visibility, these days, seems to somehow equate to success — do not be afraid to disappear. From it, from us, for a while. And see what comes to you in the silence.”

I’ve tried to cut down the time I spend on social media use by deleting the apps and setting time limits, and it hasn’t worked. So today I set myself a simple goal: spend one whole day off social media.

The rules

  1. 24 hours of no Twitter and no Instagram - those are the ones I use.
  2. Write a little about the experience.

How it went


I usually wake up and scroll through social media for an hour until I get up and shower. Sometimes I’ll read a bit of my book, too, but I often get distracted and keep picking up my phone.

Today, I do a New York Times crossword to keep myself busy, and then read a couple of chapters of my book, Scary Smart by Mo Gawdat. Fittingly, it’s about the rise and risks of artificial intelligence.

The crossword is absorbing enough that I don’t feel tempted to open Twitter. While reading, on the other hand, my attention keeps wandering and I feel repeatedly distracted by an urge to open Twitter. This didn’t used to be this hard and I find myself thinking: What have I done to my brain?


I’ve spent the morning using the Pomodoro method to break up my time whilst staying focused on my tasks. This is something I do often when I’m trying to resist distractions.

I’ve been pretty productive: some emails sent, half a blog post written, 2 important client decisions made, a slide-deck started and halfway to finished.

I notice I’m using this post as a social media replacement. Opening it up and adding a bullet point to my notes when I feel the urge to open Twitter or Instagram.

My brain feels restless, like it knows there’s something missing. I feel anxious and a bit irritable. I keep thinking that this shouldn’t be so difficult, and feeling ashamed that it is.


I’m back at my desk working after stopping for lunch. James and I walked to the shop at lunchtime and I left my phone at home. I felt a bit odd without it, but I paid attention to my surroundings and listened properly to James when we were talking. I realised with a guilty pang how little I’ve been doing that recently.

When we got home, I did another crossword and emailed my Dad some stuff he’d asked for. I feel like I’ve actually had a lunch hour today - normally it seems like it’s over in a flash.

Something that’s becoming apparent in the absence of the ability to squash it down with mindless scrolling is how anxious I still feel about COVID-19.

It’s really on my mind today. I’ve had one of those weeks where it feels like it’s creeping closer again: a few people I know have tested positive and my niece got pinged and my Dad had to take a test after feeling a bit sniffly.

I realise how much I’m using social media to reassure and distract myself from this big, looming, existential horror show we’re all still living with. The trouble is, it doesn’t really help, it just leaves me with a nagging sense that something’s wrong. Actually, it feels better to acknowledge that fear head on than to keep seeing it out of the corner of my eye.


I’ve just finished work for the day. Gradually throughout the afternoon my focus seems to have improved. I’ve made some headway on a report I’m writing and I’m glad I’ve spent the day doing that uninterrupted and not pausing to check in on other people’s lives.

The interactions I’ve had this afternoon: texts from people, conversations with James, Slack messages, have stood out to me more in the absence of exchanges on Twitter.

I feel a bit restless now. The end of the working day is usually my cue to enter a scroll-hole. I’m going to go and make dinner, go for a walk with a podcast and then settle down for the evening.

What I learned

Whilst having a day off social media felt harder to me than it should have, it was easier to stick to a whole day off than trying to limit my time on it.

I think that’s partly because having a specific goal always helps, and also because I couldn’t kid myself about whether I had achieved it or not.

In some ways, it was a relief to have a blanket rule to follow, and not to have to make lots of micro-attempts to resist the temptation throughout the day.

In conclusion

I’m sure that to some people this goal sounds ludicrously easy. It does to me, actually. And yet it hasn’t been. Social media is a socially-acceptable addiction, but it is an addiction, pure and simple.

I am completely addicted to my phone and social media is the main part of that. After today, I’ve realised I need to do more than setting time limits on social media. It’s the regularity with which I use it as much as the amount that’s causing a problem.

I’m going to aim for at least 2 days a week where I don’t go on social media at all. My hope is that regular breaks will help me learn to lean on it less, and use it with moderation.