I Eliminated This From My Weekend (And I’m Never Going Back) 

Confessions from a person who recently asked, in all seriousness, "If you can't Instagram the beach, is it even worth going?"

You’re about to judge me, and that’s okay. Here’s why: Last weekend, I drove to Asbury Park to have a nice Sunday at the beach with some friends. I have a car phone charger, and — being the phone addict I am — I plugged my phone in before we even made it out of Fishtown. The problem: For whatever reason, my phone, despite being plugged in, wasn’t charging at all for the entire trip.

This messed with my head.

When we got to Asbury Park, I wasn’t thinking about running into delightfully splashy waves. No … I was thinking about how my phone battery was in the teens and, WTF am I going to do without Instagram at the beach all day? Is the beach even worth going to if you can’t post a basic AF story featuring some waves and a Turkish towel?! Honestly?! How will I know what my friends are doing during these five hours if my phone dies?! No, really, these were real thoughts running through my head.

Then, instead of heading straight for the beach, I dragged my fiancé to the Asbury Hotel (a truly lovely place, by the way), and made him and our friends who met us there sit inside with me as I charged my battery to the level I deemed sufficient. Which took kind of a long time because my phone is embarrassingly old and (see above) has trouble charging.

Cue the head shaking. But I’m willing to bet that, because it’s the 21st century, many of you out there are guilty of exhibiting similarly cringe-worthy behavior in the not-too-distant past. Am I right?

Now, obviously going to the beach is worth it, even if no one — gasp — ever knows you went. Any reasonable person will tell you that. But social media has made many of us unreasonable. And science backs this up: studies show that social media use is screwing with our mental health, increasing anxiety and stress. Then there’s the whole comparing-your-life-to-everyone-else’s-lives thing. It’s all a bit … well, much.

Which is why, this past weekend, after my previous weekend’s damn-near meltdown, I decided to give myself a weekend-long break from all social media. And let me tell you: It was freakin’ glorious.

I spend a LOT of time on social media for work, especially Facebook and Instagram. So much so, that checking social media has become a habit akin to checking my email: I do it first thing in the morning, before I even wipe the gross sleep gunk out of my eyes, and can lose 30 minutes in a social media spiral before my day even starts. And don’t even get me started on weekend mornings when I have no place to be.

So this Saturday, when I woke up, instead of reaching for my phone — okay, fine, I did reach for my phone and opened Instagram before batting my own hand away. But I swear, I did zero scrolling — I reached for the new issue of Bon Appétit, which I’d yet to read. Then, I read the latest issue of Elle. I knocked out two full magazines, cover to cover, all before I was hungry for breakfast. This — while leisurely, sure — was already significantly more productive than my weekend mornings usually are.

Until 6 p.m. on Sunday (my cut-off time for the social-media ban), I continued this cycle: reach for phone and instinctively open Instagram or Facebook, immediately close and reach for something more productive. And my weekend was all the better for it. Because, while social media is great in that it gives us all a space to express ourselves, it also forces us to waste energy reacting to stuff — like, why that guy you met once at your friend’s neighbor’s house thinks Donald Trump is going to do great things, and your ex-boyfriend’s new baby, and whatever else you would never have even been bothered with before all this crap existed 10 years ago — that could be better spent if you were to put it toward something productive. Like plowing through the giant pile of magazines that’s taken over your kitchen table. (Just me?) It also makes us question whether things we are doing are worth doing through a lens that is entirely superficial, rather than simply asking ourselves if we’re enjoying what we’re doing at that moment. Needless to say, that can drive a person crazy.

So, while I don’t think it’s realistic to think that I can completely ban social media from my life every weekend, all weekend (because I still work in a field that is very much intertwined with the world in our phones), I am going to start giving myself set times to take breaks from social media — mini social media detoxes, if you will — on the weekends. Maybe it’s just avoiding falling down a deep, dark Instagram hole until at least 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Whatever it is, I am saying here and now that I am going to try with all my might to never, ever go back to spending my weekends freaking out about my battery life or scrolling through Kim Kardashian fan feeds. Because, embarrassingly enough, I have wasted way too much of my life on both of those activities already.

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