How a social media cleanse can help reestablish healthy boundaries

Taking a real break from your phone is so worth it.


Selah Tennberg

This icon might have too much power over us.

Riley Potter, Staff Writer

I run the risk here of sounding like a broken record, but the reality is that social media and our phones have transitioned from tools that we control to machines that control us. Many of us are slaves to our phones. We cannot resist the urge to look at our phone every time it pings and spend hours scrolling through Instagram feeds and TikTok pages. I am not sure about you all, but I have never put down my device after endless scrolling and felt fulfilled.

I am not saying that social media and technology are the bane of our existence and must be avoided at all costs. Now, more than ever, these devices have helped keep us sane, connected us to loved ones near and far, and given us the ability to see what our friends across the world are up to — and that is a beautiful thing. Thanks to social media, I have been able to stay in touch with friends from my time overseas while also learning about social justice movements and opportunities for activism around me. However, when our phones are no longer simply a tool, but a drug we cannot live without, then we have a problem. While you could erase all of your social media accounts, swear off Instagram for life, or throw your phone off a cliff, I think there is a better way to navigate this situation.

I recently felt I had been relying too heavily on endlessly scrolling, so I took a little detox from social media. I deleted my apps and resisted the urge to constantly be on my phone — be it in line at the DC, down at the shuttle stop, or just lying on my bed. This break helped me reestablish healthy boundaries with social media and with my phone as a whole. When I reinstalled my apps post-cleanse, I found that I did not feel pulled to my social media and that I rarely used them.

Your detox can be as long or as short as you need it to be, but I find that three days is a good length of time. The first day can seem brutally long and it may feel like you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms, but it truly helps you realize how unhealthy your relationship with your phone may have been. By silencing the noise of the Internet, you’ll open yourself up to a more intentional presence, one that ushers in moments of stillness and peace alongside opportunities for connection and conversation with friends and strangers alike.

More likely than not, you’ll catch yourself opening up your phone and clicking on the place where your favorite app icon once was, and when that happens, there’s no need to be hard on yourself. Simply smile ruefully, extend a little bit of grace to yourself and maybe pull out that book you’ve always wanted to read, but never had the time for. With the absence of these platforms that consume so much of our time, there comes a beautiful chance to ground oneself and intentionally fill that space with things that truly bring us joy. I’ve found that I enjoy hikes and moments with my friends more fully when I’m not worrying about posting something afterwards. This break can truly be a much-needed boost for our souls.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you could give up social media for Lent, as this season in the global church calendar is right around the corner. The hours that seemingly vanish while scrolling could instead be devoted to time with God, and you can lean on Him to help you fill the spaces and kindle a deep gratitude for the life you have.

Ultimately, if you do not choose to go on a social media break, I ask you to critically consider your relationship with your phone and try not to use it for at least 30 minutes before bed. Is it your go-to in your free moments? Is the pressure of being online hindering your in-person interactions? Do you ever feel like you can’t last very long without your phone at your side? If yes, give this detox a chance, and be excessively gentle with yourself as you do so. If no, then good for you! You have not fallen prey to the siren song of your phone, and for that I applaud you.

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