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Investing in hobbies instead of social media boosts self-confidence, say BYUH students

landscape shot of student standing in front of the "Enter to Learn" sign at the front of BYUH campus
Sophie Rolie stands in front of the "Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve" sign on BYUH campus.

Sophie Rolie said deleting social media will help people regain their social life.

For example, instead of sitting on her phone for 30 minutes, Rolie said she decided to take a walk to the temple, where she met a young family. “I ended up offering to babysit their children, and we still have contact after three months. I’m planning to visit them.”

Three months ago, Rolie, a sophomore from Oregon studying political science and intercultural peacebuilding, said she decided to delete all her social media because she realized she stopped being fully present in her life. “I feel totally liberated,” she said.

She shared since then, she has not only gained more confidence, but also found her passion for film photography. “You actually begin to explore yourself. … You gain a sense of self,” Rolie explained.

portrait graphics illustration of girl in exercise clothing holding out her finger as if she is cracking phone glass in front of her
Lina Kiessieh demonstrating what life can be like when breaking free from social media.

Mental and physical health

According to Medium and the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, social media reduces creativity and has negative effects on well-being, primarily increasing depression and loneliness. BYUH students said their break from social media platforms helped them recognize the negative effects of social media, build more meaningful relationships and improve their mental health.

Hellen Nuti Taanoa, a junior from Australia studying social work, said the pandemic made her reconsider her priorities and improve her self-care routine. She said her break from social media was the reason she got into fitness.

“I didn’t waste my day anymore. I got out of my comfort zone, especially with fitness. Fitness and I weren’t good with each other [before],” Taaona laughed. “I found different spots to read a book and went out for walks. [There were] a lot of firsts for me that improved my health. I didn’t realize how much social media affected my health.”

Since then, Taanoa said she has stuck with fitness and become more cautious in the way she uses social media. “There are so many things I can fit in a day when I am off social media.”

Building confidence

Summer Edwards, a senior from Utah studying exercise and sports science, explained how her three-month social media cleanse built her confidence.

“I was living my best life. I was having deeper connections and conversations with people. It actually [gave me] time to build meaningful relationships. I was less anxious because I was less focused on my appearance.”

Edwards explained she had previously felt absent from her own life, felt left out and often had the feeling she wasn’t enough. She explained scrolling through Instagram and seeing others reach their milestones made her feel like she wasn’t going anywhere in life. “I realized as I put them up higher. I put myself lower.”

A new perspective 

Rolie said, “Once I let the perception of other people dictate how I lived my life, it wasn’t even my life anymore.” Since her social media cleanse, Rolie said she realized she became more aware of who her friends are.

landscape shot of girl standing with her back towards the camera surrounded by greenery looking out at the ocean
Rolie said staying off social media allowed her to have new perspectives and build her interpersonal communication skills.

“It weeded out who was there for me and who wasn’t,” she explained, emphasizing how taking a break from social media helped her create new relationships and be intentional.

Rolie said her experiences showed her what she missed out on while being focused only on her online appearance. She said she improved her communication skills and increased her daily in-person conversations by staying off social media.

“I am not having all that junk influencing my brain all the time. I have deeper questions and deeper thoughts. I start having ideas [because] it forces me to think.”

Rolie emphasized not everything about social media is bad, and there are many advantages to it, but she would advise everyone to try a social media cleanse.

“What’s the worst thing that could happen? It’s going to be uncomfortable, but the love you feel for people is amazing. I saw instant change in myself.”

Deleting social media for the sake of deleting is not the right intention, Rolie added. “I am deleting social media not to delete it, but to achieve goals. Focus on yourself, take a break from people, and you’ll regain your social life.” •