After a week without any social media, three BYU-Hawaii students said they found themselves feeling happier, socializing on a deeper level, and caring less about what others think of them.
“I’m happier and more social because of not having social media,” said Allie Hunter, a freshman from California studying communications. “I was a lot more social this week.”
The other two students, Marisa Santeco and Jordan Cortez, agreed with Hunter about feeling more social. They reported having more personal connections with the people they interacted with throughout the week.
“I think not having social media as a default made me invest a lot more into people and about what their interests are,” Hunter continued. “It wasn’t just like, ‘Where are you from? What’s your major?’ and all that stuff, but more of asking funny questions and having meaningful conversations.”
Santeco, a senior from Kahuku studying graphic design also said she felt her relationships change during the fast.
“I don’t know how to explain it, I just feel so good. I felt like I was able to have real conversations with people, like real ones. And I wasn’t over-analyzing texts on a screen but focusing on real friendships.”
Santeco said when she talked to a friend about what they had done over the weekend, the friend asked her if she had seen her Instagram story.
“I told her why I hadn’t,” Santeco continued. “I liked that I didn’t know what she did. I liked actually getting to know her in that moment.”
All three students reported being able to get homework done quicker without the distractions of checking their phones for status updates. They also reported higher levels of self-esteem and were able to focus less on the opinions of others and more on what they felt was important.
“Something I noticed was that I didn’t care as much of what people thought,” said Cortez, a multimedia journalist for the Ke Alaka‘i and a sophomore from Arizona studying biology. “I think I talked to people more on a personal level this week then I did previously so that was really good.”
Hunter said, “I think the pressure of showing the best part of yourself wasn’t there. I was able to try to be my best self without trying to prove that to anybody.”
Because she did not have social media during the week, Hunter explained how she didn’t feel the need or pressure to impress anyone with what she spent her time doing. Instead, she said she was able to gravitate towards people who like her because of who she is as a person and not because of what they see online.
The three participants said the week-long fast was not easy. Cortez admitted to checking Instagram over his friend’s shoulder one day, but the three each agreed that the week helped them see others and themselves a little differently.
Santeco said, “At first it was really hard, but I didn’t really think much of it until day five when I started to feel emotionally different. I felt more confident with myself. I didn’t really think about what others thought of me. I didn’t feel judgmental towards others. It really helped me have an eternal perspective and really just focus on what’s real and what isn’t.”
“I think I’m just going to be changed by this whole experience,” Hunter concluded with a smile. “I’m going to look at my phone differently and treat it like I need to use it for a purpose and not just go on it because I can.”