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  • Writer's pictureMaddie Cowey

I Quit Social Media - and hated it.

Hello fellow quarantiners!! I hope you are at home, admiring your clean hands, and reading me from the comfort of your sofa (wrapped up in a blanket with a cuppa. Or a glass of gin.) If you're not, then I am sure you have a good reason to be out and about, and if you are an NHS worker or key worker then - go you! You're my hero.

As many of you know, this year I have decided to undertake Sarcoma UK's 500k Virtual Runner challenge to raise money for the charity. On top of this, I am attempting a new challenge each month. In January I gave up alcohol, in February I did a week of daily blogging, and last month (March) I gave up social media for a week. That meant fully deleting Instagram and Twitter from my phone - the week before the UK went into lockdown, i.e. I missed out on a lot of coronavirus posts which gave me a huge sense of fomo. I was also self isolating with cold symptoms so it really was a bad week to give up these apps. I decided to undertake this challenge as I spend quite a lot of time on Instagram and Twitter, consuming thousands of opinions, filtered and edited images, spending countless hours watching pointless videos every day, and I haven't had a real break from it since I first joined the apps. This may not be a difficult challenge for a lot of people but it was for me!

I logged some of my emotions during my self-inflicted social-media lockdown. Here is what I noted down while I was off those apps. Some of these are very personal and embarrassing but honest thoughts.

Day 1, Monday 16/03: Deleted apps. Feeling anxious - what if I can't log in again? What if I accidentally ignore important messages? What if I miss important things - I get so much enjoyment from watching people's stories!

7pm - First urge to actually post something as I saw 'keep calm and carry on' bunting in a shop window, all I can think is that's a missed Story opportunity!

I have found myself unlocking my phone and looking for Instagram a few times before remembering it's gone.

Day 2, Tuesday 17/03: Woke up and instantly went looking for my social media apps. I miss them! Last night I may or may not have looked at one Twitter account via the internet - don't they say curiosity killed the cat...? Whoops.

I have been okay today. I did check a couple of posts from my sister's phone but made sure not to surf for long. I have found myself on Facebook more, though - I just feel so out of touch with the world. It's crazy how much I crave other people's opinions, especially at a time like this.*

Day 3, Wednesday 18/03: ReAaaalllllyyyy craving Insta and Twitter. Severe sense of fomo. How are all the influencers I follow coping with coronavirus news and updates?? I need to know! I also have encountered so much I want to put on my stories. It's so sad and embarrassing admitting this, but good to recognise how clearly addicted I am to Instagram, and probably a lot of us are. Is it really such a bad thing?

I do feel like I have spent a tad less time on my phone, but I have downloaded the game 2048, which I have found extremely addictive.

Days 4-7: I didn't journal much about these days, which suggests I got more used to it. I spent a lot of time on 2048 and was determined to beat the game (I still haven't won it), but the next Monday I very readily re-downloaded Instagram and Twitter (thankfully I did remember my passwords). I thought I would spend an age scrolling through them and catching up, but ended up getting bored quite easily! So, the week off probably did me some good, making me realise that social media isn't all it's made out to be. However, I am not willing to give it up for good. As much as scrolling through snippets of other people's lives is not great for our mental health, Instagram has been a great platform for meeting amazing people, it has provided a cancer community for me that otherwise wouldn't exist, and many people share many enriching thoughts and ideas. I also use Instagram as my personal photo journal - I love looking back at old posts and stories and remembering happy memories. That can't be a bad thing!

I am not sure if my week off social media taught me much else other than: taking a break can be good sometimes (you can have too much of a good thing); and I bloody love Instagram and Twitter and I won't apologise for that.

What are your thoughts on social media? Is it the devil? Does it bring you joy, or misery? Do you wish you don't waste so much time on it? Does it have a positive impact on your life? I would love to find out your opinions on this, and if you have ever taken a forced break from your social media apps, how you found it.

* This week, the news was going crazy. The EU decided to close all borders. Trump labelled coronavirus the 'China virus' and altogether said a lot of idiotic things. We were just moments away from a lockdown, echoing the actions of Italy, Spain, France and Belgium (and more). Events were getting cancelled back and forth, for example all sports, and many huge festivals. On the Friday night the pub at which I work closed. All this and I couldn't find out how my followers and those I follow were being affected! Instagram really makes us feel a part of others' lives, even if we have never met them. That may be a dangerous thing, and in some cases is, but in other ways I love getting a glimpse into how other people live! So call me an addict! See if I care!

This month (April) I am taking up an exercise challenge - 20 burpees a day for 30 days. I picked 20 because right now that is challenging enough for me, and I will be doing them alongside my normal exercise routines. Today I forced my siblings along with me, and there is a marked difference in our burpee speeds:

Hannah: 50 secs

Will: 1min 10

Maddie: 1min 40

My hope is that by the end of the month I will have reduced my speed somewhat significantly - but I will update you on that in a month's time! I wonder whether my brother and sister will keep it up with me too... Please feel free to join me with the #AprilChallenge, or come up with a challenge of your own!

That's all for today's blog. I hope this gave you some food for thought, or at least killed a few minutes of your day.

Thanks for reading, speak soon!

M x

Follow me on Instagram here: @MadeleineCowey

p.s. This year I am going to be taking on lots of random challenges, on top of running/swimming/cycling 500k over the year! This is all in support of Sarcoma UK, the national sarcoma charity that funds vital research and support for patients and their families affected by the rare cancer. If you want to support me, then you can donate whatever you can through this link. Even £1 would be greatly appreciated, and you can donate completely anonymously!! Thank you!

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