Hi. I’m Carmina and I’m a social media addict. It all started when I first got my hands on my first smart phone in 2012, a Blackberry Curve 9320 that I connected to the internet 24/7 (thank you, BBMAX599); pretty much whenever I turn the 3G on. At first, I find the connectivity to the worldwide web anytime of the day refreshing and powerful. It was perfect, especially with the kind of work that I have then: not always at the office, but needs to answer emails right away. It was so efficient, everything can be done in just a few clicks of the buttons, knowledge right at your fingertips. I was so happy, especially since I’m the kind of girl who Googles a lot of things I don’t understand my friends call me “Google girl” sometimes. At the same time, I can also get in touch with a lot of people online because smart phones are so fucking reliable; everything I did then was pretty much documented on my Twitter.

When my BB started having a lot of “sickness,” I got myself an iPhone 5c, the same phone I’m using until now. Since I find this new phone much more dependable and user-friendly, naturally, I abused it more. After Facebook and Twitter, I also got addicted to Instagram. Snap a photo here, snap a photo there, slap on some filter and post. To this day, I think I may have posted trivial photos in there that I wouldn’t have normally posted given any other circumstance besides “having something to post on that day.”

For over a year, I relied heavily on social media. It’s like a disease, and it has eaten me whole. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, because really, it’s one of the good things technology has bestowed upon us; but one thing led to another, and on most nights, I find myself scrolling through the rabbit hole that is Facebook. Not only was I staying (sometimes) up to 3am (I’m seriously not proud of this fact) scrolling through ‘grams, tweets and statuses; unknowingly, I was also sinking deeper into the quicksand of my own insecurity.

As I scroll through work promotions of friends who I think I was so much better at in school, engagements and weddings of some people who I think I look better than most of LOL (#GGSS), and travel pictures of friends to places I can only dream of visiting right now, throw in the occasional annoying #ootd posts, #iwokeuplikethis selfies (bitch, you didn’t wake up like that, don’t fool me), bloodcurdling political posts and whatnots, I realized that although social media was created with the whole idea of making us feel together and better than we usually are (I know you’re curating your online life to perfection), I felt more alone and I was left questioning my capabilities and feeling like shit. I needed to take the necessary measures.

For a while, I went on a social media diet, like limiting myself to checking my accounts to two hours a day and posting less, you know how I like making myself heard, like everything I say matters, maybe that’s why I blog, huh? I also started unfollowing people on Instagram, mostly IG stores and those with “why can’t I have your life” feeds that only made me feel sorry for how bad I was at curating an Instagram-worthy life. But then Christmastime came, and my boss told me that our social media accounts can go on a hiatus. That’s when I decided it’s finally time to unplug, one that I’ve been planning for a long time. Since I no longer have the excuse to be online at least an hour every day and it also coincides with vacation, this was it. I figured I might be able to do a lot than sit idly by feeling sorry for myself.

Okay, I haven’t really said all that in a room full of social media addicts such as myself, but I might as well have. So here’s what happened…

Disconnection Notice

On December 23, I disconnected myself from social media. I deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on my phone leaving only Messenger and Viber on for messaging purposes. Do they still count as social media? I just couldn’t have the heart to delete them too, because I use Messenger to communicate with my mother, who’s abroad and Viber has pretty much replaced text messaging for me, at least as I used it more to communicate with friends than text messaging. Sayang ang piso.

That day, I contemplated on posting a disconnection status that goes like, “I’m going on a social media hiatus for a week blah blah blah let’s see how long will I last.” But I decided against it because I particularly hate people who posts “I’m deleting friends if you’re still friends with me after this then lucky you” posts like “Lul, i-delete kita dyan sa friends list ko e papansin ka.” and for me, it falls in the same “papansin mo, gawin mo na lang annoying category” in my book along with “I’m on a diet” posts, gym selfies, “I’m sick, tell me to get well soon” posts. Anyway, so I decided not to and just deleted everything at once. Couldn’t care less if anybody would notice my absence.

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How’d it felt? Have you seen that pilot episode of Friends where Rachel literally cut all her credit cards? Pretty much like that. It’s a bit liberating. And it sucks. I just didn’t know if I’m going to love it.

What To Do? What To Do? What To Do?

With all my favorite SNS out of my hands, I was left thinking, “Now, what the fuck do I do to keep myself busy?”

On the first day, I decided to wrap all the gifts I bought the night before at Divisoria. I was done by 1pm. Next, I decided to clean up in time for the upcoming holidays. I cleaned the room again but since I just did a general cleaning two days before, I almost did nothing. I decided to check out a new series. Quantico was one helluva exciting series! It’s HTGAWM meets Homeland and if you love both series, I’m sure as hell you’re going to like this one, too. Then I decided to watch some more and watched Every Child Is Special. Movie moved me to tears. I then went online and opened the Buzzfeed app on my phone. Yes, I do have the app on my phone, lol, and wasted a lot of time on it than I should’ve had. Then I slept, woke up, got bored and messaged my sister about what are we having for Noche Buena. That night, we went grocery shopping and started prepping for next day’s festivities. By nightfall, I was itching to open my Facebook to see how many ”lol of d day” posts my uncle tagged me into. LOL.

The second day wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Maybe it’s ‘cause I got busy with helping prepare for Noche Buena that I somehow forgot about my challenge. I prepared the chicken, went to Church and ate with the family. My sister took a bunch of family photos and shared some of our mother’s comments with me, so I got exposed to Facebook. At that point, I downloaded Facebook and Twitter back on my phone. Hahaha! I had an internal battle, telling myself you are so much better than this, what, you’re going to last 30 hours off SNS and be proud of it? You’re better than this! Besides, what are you going to see there? Cheesy Christmas greetings your friends don’t even mean, pictures behind the Christmas tree, and lots, and I mean lots of photos of the Christmas table filled with food, they’re not even appetizing or #foodporn worthy, so spare yourself! My pep talk with myself worked so I deleted the app again and went to sleep.

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Here’s what I cooked: it wasn’t #foodporn worthy, but the family loved it. lol

On Christmas day, we went to my father’s side mini reunion in Rizal so I was again saved from looking at my phone and itching to download the apps I deleted less than 24 hours ago. I think at this point, App Store may think I’ve gone nuts or something. The good thing about this is that I had my vocal chords practiced from the karaoke, NAKS!, and ended up with a hoarse voice. So much for rapping S2pid Luv. :/ Also, got to bond with my cousins and aunts who I haven’t been talking to in a while, except for the occasional Facebook like and messaging my cousin with “Do you have an ebook of this and that?” LOL.

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3/13 of the clan

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all the single ladies…

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videoke queen! I blame the booze for this pose!

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too shabby for a wine glass, this red wine is perfect though

I was pretty much getting the hang of not using social media on the fourth day, but I was so bored I decided to visit my nieces and aunt who lives not too far from where I live to have a chat and dinner with. That same night, Cat came and told us she lost her iPhone. We found her iPhone and it was such an experience that I decided to go online for the first time that night and shared the story. I know, I was on a streak, but it was just so amazing and I was filled with “I must write this, I must write this, it’s too intense not to share it, I must write this and share this to my network” that I just did. So on the fourth day, I broke my promise to myself. #strikeone

The fifth day went by like a breeze; I watched Quantico and saw three more movies on my to watch list (While You Were Sleeping, Scouts Guide to Zombie Apocalypse, The Intern) to make up for the lack of social media in my life. Fine, I checked the comments on my post the previous night for a while the morning after for like five minutes. I couldn’t help it!!! #striketwo

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I think she hates me 😛

On the flip side, my baby brother brought my youngest niece at home and I baby sat her for a few hours. And if you know me, you know I hate taking care of babies, like it’s the least thing I’d want to do, and this is such an accomplishment that I made her sleep! That same night, Julianne messaged our group on Viber and was asking if anybody want to climb Mt. Pamitinan in Rizal. Having been on bed for most of the day, and being the kaladkarin friend that I am (only when I’m free), I said “Yes!” Also, it’s a good way to keep myself busy and stop thinking about “How many notifications do I have now?”

So the next day, I got to climb my first summit. No, scratch that, two summits! Pamitinan has two, haha! It got my mind off social media and I was so in touch with the trees and mud and the razor-sharp stones and the nature as well as my body. A lot of thoughts have gone through my head: am I going to collapse now? Why is my head throbbing? Will my heart get out of its rib cage from beating like crazy? Will I hit my head or my elbows or my knees on these sharp stones? Will I get out alive?

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“I’m on top of the world, hey! Waiting on this for a while now, paying my dues to the dirt…”

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#mgabiglaanglakadnanatutuloy

I kept telling myself “Carmina, why do you have to do this to yourself? You’re no climber. You didn’t even prepare for this climb! If you die here, that’s on you. And you didn’t even tell your parents you’re climbing a mountain. What is wrong with you?” Anyway, I didn’t die.

Also, When In Manila published my lost iPhone status as a contributor post and apparently people have gone crazy on it, and by people I mean butthurt Android users that my sister and friends were messaging me to check it that shit, I went online that night to check the fuss. LOL. #strikethree and you’re out!

The next day, I woke up with a sore body so I stayed in bed for approximately 23 hours (only went out of bed to eat, pee and bath) and finished all remaining episodes of Quantico, watched three more movies (Little Prince, Ruby Sparks, Hotel Transylvania 2)  and took a rest.

 “Pics Or It Didn’t Happen”

In retrospect, I realized I should’ve done more than just watched an entire series and a bunch of movies on my laptop. I should’ve had put a ban or at least a limit on the use of my laptop as well. I actually had a lot of things planned, you know. Like finally opening again my 1000-piece puzzle I received as a birthday gift two years ago, or you know, meet up with more friends and have an actual conversation sans messaging apps and our phone’s screens. Or you know, finally purge on my clothes and blogs, those 2006 blogs have got to go. And God knows how much I need to free up space on my closet. Or write. I did read, though. But I wasn’t able to finish it so it’s still a failure.

As you can see, I haven’t really thought this entire challenge through. The times I wasn’t looking through SNS on my phone, I spent playing solitaire and perfecting my version of Pachelbel’s Canon in D – on Piano Tiles. It would’ve been great if it was on an actual piano, but NO. The other times was spent looking at BuzzFeed, I saw myself falling through the rabbit hole that is 15 things to tell you’re the Harry Styles of your group, which Taylor Swift song are you based on the undies you’re wearing (kidding!), which Harry Potter character should you date, what horcrux are you, I totally made all those things up haha! I realized I should have put: no phones except for when texting, insta messaging or calling. No BuzzFeed.

During my social media sabbatical, I also realized a few things: I was literally out of things to do. Maybe it was because I did it while on vacation but it also made me realize that I really have a lot of time for other things! I could learn how to properly sew, I could write more, or maybe even learn how to ride a bike or play the guitar, if I would only take my hand off that damned phone. I just think I don’t have a lot of time, because of my “hello, social media, I’m here, I’m all yours, you can have me!” attitude that I unknowingly acquired over the years.

I also missed some news – both nonsensical gossips and real news, I think. I didn’t really back tracked a lot. My friend was telling me something about have you seen this and that and I’m like no, I haven’t checked FB in a while and although I felt quite out of sync of what’s happening, I felt that I was fine with it. However, the times I didn’t have my face glued to my phone’s and laptop’s screen, I was able to have more face time with people I care about. I played with my nieces, had a nice chat with my family and found out two of my cousins are graduating this year the same time as our youngest and some family gossip as well! Hahaha!

Finally, and maybe the highlight of this entire test was that I was able to climb a mountain! If I wasn’t looking for a distraction from SNS, I would have declined Julianne’s invite to climb a mountain, like why would I? I once said, I’d swim on every beach, but you can’t make me climb a mountain. But look at me now! Who would’ve thought I’d enjoy seeing the world at bird’s eye view as well as under the sea, too? And looking at finding a new mountain to climb!

So did I miss it?

I am the kind of person who wakes up every morning and unconsciously reaches for my phone and the kind who falls asleep with the phone in one hand, so of course I did miss it. I’d be lying if I said no. The first three days were the worst. I constantly find myself looking at my phone thinking, “Okay, now what should we do next.” It’s kind of a bad case of withdrawal. But as always, everything takes a little time of getting used to.

If it weren’t for Cat losing her phone and us finding it and posting it on social media, I knew I’d end up a victor in this dare. I knew should’ve waited until I can finally post again. But like a drug addict, my fingers started writing and posting and I wanted to say I’m sorry for the relapse, and I want to justify my opening of Facebook by saying I can’t shut the writer out of me and that I did it because I want to help iPhone users who don’t know they can trace their lost phones back, but I’d say I was still wrong. I felt dirty and happy at the same time. #masarapangbawal

What else? Although I felt bad opening that damned app, I felt better not knowing where a friend went, who married who and who went up another step on their career ladder. Not knowing about stuff made me feel less insecure about how my life is going, it’s a little shitty by the way; things are not going the way I planned it to be. But social media-less, I was somehow, happier.

Also, during this entire time, I was only charging my phone once a day. Except for that time we went up the mountains, I took a bunch of photos with the phone.

Final Thoughts

Today, I am back on all platforms and I’d like to think I am more conscious at how much time I spend on social media. I’m also trying to keep all the negativity in my life at a minimum extent. I am starting to filter my feed and timeline of posts that only annoy me or provoke me to make sarcastic or really nasty remarks (I only tell it to myself, fine, sometimes to a friend) as well as posts that only make me feel bad about myself. I know, maybe I should just totally quit Facebook altogether. But there are still some people that I really care about and want to know how they’re doing so I’d like to stay, for the time being. Also, I still stalk my crush time and again. LOL.

Likewise, I’d also keep my posting in check. What I’m trying to say is I want to keep my social network carbon footprint less, does blogging counts? I’d make it a point to only post when I feel that what I’m saying is relevant, not because I feel the need to post even if it’s really futile.

Oftentimes, whenever we have thought of brilliant ideas or thoughts, we’d immediately want to post it online as if seeing it “published” and rake in likes and comments would validate how brilliant it really is. It makes me wonder though, if we didn’t get to share this thought on social media, would it still mean it “happened”? With social media, our need for acceptance and wanting to be liked and be better than other’s feeds have been amplified. It seemed like everybody is just doing stuff just so they’d have something to post online. And that is really pathetic and sad. We’re all guilty of it. I know I am. I read somewhere that being rich in social media/likes/follows is like being rich in monopoly. (Sure, internet marketers would beg to differ but that’s a whole other aspect.) That struck a chord, and it gives us all something to think about.

To leave this on a positive note, I’d like to share how happy I was that I saw some kids the other day playing tumbang preso in front of my brother’s house yesterday. It’s a bit unrelated, but in a world where everyone is so caught up with getting likes and favorites and retweets, it’s refreshing to see these kids free from the sticky webs of the worldwide web. It kind of gives me hope that not everyone has been living their lives online.

What about you? Have you tried unplugging on social media? How was it?

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