A self-confessed social media addict goes cold turkey

"Likes and retweets are comparable to little wins on the slot machines"

A self-confessed social media addict goes cold turkey

Picture by: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire/Press Association Images

I’ve just returned from 12 days of sunny bliss in the south of Spain. It was my first proper break in a while and my body limped towards the departure gate after a busy few months. 

Before I left for the airport on Tuesday 28th June, almost everyone in the office told me to put my phone away and stay offline whilst on holiday. I walked around like this for most of that morning: 

Once I touched down in Almeria airport, something in my brain clicked and I felt myself switch off. I opted to stay offline as much as possible. I told myself I didn’t want to be one of those folks, posting photos of beautiful beaches and blue skies whilst my friends and colleagues sat in rainy Dublin. Nobody likes those people. 

I was too busy sitting on a beach and reading all of Gillian Flynn’s brilliance to notice the lack of Twitter or Instagram in my life. I used WhatsApp the entire time to keep in touch with people back home. I had no FOMO.

The only time, throughout my entire trip, I wanted to go online was when I received a text about the death of Caroline Aherne. I loved her work on the Royale Family. I was tempted to tweet out a sketch from the show or a quote, but instead, I spoke to those I was travelling with about the show and we had a laugh amongst ourselves. 

Aside from that, I didn’t really miss it at all.

Guilt

Now, that being said, I couldn’t get back on quick enough as I sat in the airport waiting to travel home on Saturday. I read through my mentions and saw tweets from people asking me questions or having the chats with me. I felt guilty for not having replied to them sooner. I am aware of how ridiculous that is. 

I realised my connection to social media is slightly unhealthy. I noticed that my first instinct - when something happens, is to tweet; be it something funny, newsworthy or random. I stopped that for twelve days and did feel better for it.

As I watched the final of Euro 2016 on Sunday, I suddenly became aware of how social media could be likened to a casino. Likes and retweets are comparable to little wins on the slot machines. It gives the brain a little high and sucks us deeper into the world of 140 characters.

While many will roll their eyes and utter “cop on” under their breath as they read this, I am actually quite proud of the fact that I stayed offline for that length of time. I remember trying to give up social media for lent back in 2011 and gave up after 2 hours.

I didn’t do it because people in work told me to or for any other reason than because it was what my brain needed. Not tweeting every thought that entered my brain or every image that past before my eyes made me appreciate things a bit more.