I remember being at the park everyday in Queens, NYC in the late 1990’s early 2000’s exploring all the nook and crannies, playing on the swing, skateboarding, volleyball, socializing.
How did I know when my friends and I would meet up? Go to their house and make it a habit to meet at certain places.
I felt aware and less dependent in everything around me. Even living in a ONE bedroom with 5 people when migrating to NYC from Algeria, I had the best of times because I used my Imagination. My family didn’t buy us new toys or watched t.v. with us. Instead, we took trips when possible, ate great food, played lots of games, and read a TON of books. Our apartment was a library thanks for my parents who have been professors for a very long time growing up.
One of my greatest memories as child coming to America are all of the road trips my family and I would take in our Ford Aerostar. My middle sister would sit in the passenger seat as my father drove and she had on her lap either a printed Mapquest or a thick map book. We typically traveled down to Virginia from NYC or to Vermont where both of my sisters attended college.
I am so grateful to have grown up and had a childhood with minimal interruption. Sadly, our new generation of kids worldwide even in third-world countries are impacted by a manipulative, commercialization social digital wave. I am reminiscing on the past to remind everyone to take a step back and remember not to be consumed.
I want to share with YOU how I recognized I was being sucked into this black hole and ways I disconnected:
Step 1: Physical Pain and Insomnia Symptoms
I started having small physical pain (eyes, hands, headaches) from texting and consistently looking at my phone, texting, scrolling, swipping. As I became more involved in Whatsapp groups, Instagram, Snapchat, I was honestly so tired of switching to different applications that had different uses. As you know, I am a technology consultant at heart, so I was always thinking about the user experience, how to consolidate and be more effective in my day to day routine.
Instead of reading a book at night, I would spend time on my phone. I wouldn’t sleep well and when I woke up the first thing I did was go over messages and social updates.
Step 2: Recognized my goals
I decided to quit social media because I had goals that I knew would be time consuming to achieve.
1. I wanted to go to graduate school in which I had to take pre-requisite college courses even though I already attained my Bachlor’s degree. I ended up graduating with a Masters in Technology Management in 2017.
2. I wanted to work across various communities and forums in my job outside of my day to day work. I ended up being the Co-Chair for our Middle East North Africa Forum in one of the largest consulting companies in the world, on top of taking several certifications, courses, networking, working full time as a contractor.
3. I wanted to be in a more deserving relationship. I wasn’t happy with how I used to follow my now ex-boyfriend and want to post pictures of a fake relationship.
Since I knew I wanted to reach these goals and since I knew social media was time consuming, I reached an agreement with myself to completely delete everything 3 years ago. I did NOT even SAVE anything! I had Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook. I even told my friends respectfully that I will remove myself from Whatsapp groups.
Step 3: Dealing with After-math
The first 2 months I looked at my phone and I felt as though I had NO use for it. I felt like I did not have any friends any more. I became completely bored. That is when I realized how much more TIME I had and how I can leverage that time into Productivity.
I was very happy that I was able to push myself away from the fake world such as friends, corrupt media, holiday sales etc. I was so happy to know who was actually there for me. When you are consumed in social media, you really do not know who your real friends are. A simple “Like” or “Follow” button is not real. I soon realized who would check on me, call me and who wouldn’t. That is when I was really able to disconnect when I got over those feelings because it is all trivial.
The one social media account I kept was my LinkedIn account. This tool helped me apply to new jobs and I was able to get a fantastic job in the last few months.
Obviously now I had started a blog and YouTube channel. I have been contemplating going back to other social channels to grow my brand because I really don’t want to be consumed by how many people follow me and how many people like my content. I am at a point where I want to explore my passions outside of my work and keep growing personally.
If you experienced a similar situation or thinking of cutting off, feel free to reach out to me! Happy to talk it through!