A Digital Detox Social Experiment

The beginning of my digital detox

The Theory:

The Questions:

  • Am I addicted to social media?
  • Can I still function professionally as a marketer without it?
  • How does social media and instant gratification affect my overall mental health? How will it change?
  • Will FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) overcome me?
  • How will my experiment affect others? (those who knew about it versus those who didn’t)

The Rules:

The Methods:

Literally. You have to call me.
Moments before a Southwest plane flew into frame
Yours truly on the far right

The Data:

Given

The Results:

  • Am I addicted to social media? = YES! You probably are too along with everyone you know. The good news is you can moderate it and now you’re conscious of the effects. Knowledge is power.
  • Can I still function professionally as a marketer without it? = It’s not easy, but I can compartmentalize work social media from personal social media. I had to do preliminary marketing research for a potential client and used my company’s Facebook account. The temptation for likes is real.
  • How does social media and instant gratification affect my overall mental health? How will it change? = I think subconsciously it was depressing and isolating me. It’s very easy to get into a routine where social media replaces real social interaction. There is no inertia. I felt change when the pressure of responding in a timely manner lifted. Once removed, I instantly felt better and less distracted. In this case, ignorance was bliss.
  • Will FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) overcome me? = I didn’t experience this as much as I expected, but I did miss big events like the Grammy’s (my girlfriend told me over happy hour), the State of the Union (I only knew it was on when I walked in a bar broadcasting it) and the latest Bitcoin crash (Coinbase told me). I did get to watch the Super Bowl and all the entertaining commercials on Sunday after my experiment ended.
  • How will my experiment affect others? Those who knew versus who didn’t? = It was interesting how each person reacted. I could not predict their behavior. One friend was running late to happy hour and emailed me about it instead of calling (which would have been faster). Another friend thought I was purposefully ignoring them and took it personally. Someone called me weird. The people who knew found it amusing and engaged with me. The people who didn’t know didn’t accommodate me. My Facebook friends who left messages a week ago didn’t fuss when I finally replied. The outcome depended upon the relationship strength, the timing, and the personality.

Other Observations:

  • I wasn’t tempted 24/7 by food in my social feeds (those dessert ads really subconsciously get to you)
  • Some things would have been more efficient if I texted in lieu of calls or emails (ex: ETA’s and change of venues)
  • My time was better spent reading, learning history, writing, learning languages, and meeting new people
  • I strived to become a better communicator by thinking before I wrote or called someone
  • I was less envious and felt adequate (it’s hard not compare yourself to others with social media)
  • I had nothing to prove to anyone and it was awesome
  • Personal privacy was something I took for granted
  • My phone didn’t feel like a necessity or life line
  • Turning off notifications was “out of sight, out of mind” – great for detoxing
  • I took less pictures (and no selfies), but the ones I took were worthwhile

Summary:

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Penny Kim

Penny Kim

2.5K Followers

Marketing Director, photographer, world travel enthusiast. Eat, think, and travel plenty.