Forced into freedom


Kira Guerrin

    It’s February 26, and for the third time today, my brain has directed my thumb to a familiar place on my phone screen hoping to open TikTok. I was confused when I actually found myself tapping an empty spot on my screen. 

   This year for Lent, my friends and I gave up social media. 

   When Sr. Kamryn Dumas brought this idea to my friends’ attention, many thoughts raced through my brain. “Will I be able to make a spring break post?” “What will I do when I’m bored at home?” “How will I stay in touch with people who I primarily talk to on Instagram or Snapchat?”

   The fact that these thoughts not only crossed my mind, but were genuine worries, is laughable now. 

   TikTok was always my top app on the screen time report. Figuring out what else to do in my spare time was a big concern before deciding to remove it. Now, I don’t know if I’m ever going to get TikTok back. Removing it from my phone for Lent was like quitting an addiction–cold turkey. 

   I spent so much time on TikTok, but a lot of that time was completely empty. Not nearly as much in the last year, but while hanging out with friends in the past, we would sometimes spend our time together sitting in silence and scrolling through TikTok. But, it gets worse. We weren’t looking at the same phone or the same videos; we were just consuming separate content on separate phones, in two separate worlds, while we could have been having fun together.

    Since deleting it, the time I spend being productive and making memories has increased greatly. Though I don’t see harm in watching a silly video every once in a while, it isn’t that easy. TikTok is an addiction. It’s black and white. It’s either all or nothing. We must collectively remove this time-wasting app to improve our lives. There are so many better activities we could be doing with the amount of time we spend scrolling through TikTok.

   The one benefit of social media that I realized after it was gone was the communication aspect. I needed some help with my AP stats homework over the weekend and didn’t have any of my classmates’ phone numbers. I wasn’t able to just search up their names on Instagram and DM them. But, besides that specific situation, I was still able to keep in contact with my friends through texting and calling.

  Some friends who also went on this social media cleanse shared similar viewpoints to mine. “My biggest takeaway from giving up socials for lent is that social media adds nothing to my life. A common misconception is that we need social media to communicate, however, it was just as easy and even more meaningful to text and call the people I needed to talk to. As soon as I wasn’t being consumed by my phone, I began to notice the world around me as it truly is,” Said Dumas. 

   “It was kind of difficult at first, but after a while I stopped caring. Even though I have it back now, I don’t feel a need to check it at all,” Sr. Caden Mika said.

   The most improved aspect of my life from this social media cleanse is the way I view myself and other people. I, like most of my peers, compare myself to others way too much. The thing that I didn’t realize until now is the fact that the primary cause of that mindset is social media. It makes sense for people to want to post and display their best moments and best looks. But only seeing the “best” parts of everyone’s life was unrealistic and apparently very damaging to my perspective. 

     When I would see these unrealistically gorgeous pictures of my peers, I would almost build up resentment for them in my brain. I was so upset because I couldn’t look like these people. This was a horrible habit that I picked up and I hated myself for it as well. Because social media played such a huge role in my life, it was extremely difficult to avoid the posts that led to those feelings.

   Because I haven’t been able to see anyone’s carefully cultivated social media persona for the past five weeks, I have felt so much better. I see people… no filters, no golden-hour lighting, no unnatural poses. It is absolutely refreshing. 

   My eyes have also been opened to the fact that we are not creatures that are supposed to have social media. It has corrupted our species. The amount of mental health issues and suicides have skyrocketed and people’s overall level of morality has plummeted. 

     Something has to change. I think we are all aware that it’s not going to be the corporations, it’s not going to be the billionaire CEOs, it has to start with the people. It has to start with us.