"Internet Detox" by Klara Kurti ('17)

            Imagine what social interactions were like a century ago. A person had to physically leave his or her house and take a carriage ride through town to go visit a friend. If that wasn’t hard enough, when he finally got to his destination, he had to fill out a card with his information, give it to the house maid or butler, and wait for his friend to come down to greet him. If the woman or the man of the house wasn’t home, he'd have to leave a message and wait for the next visiting day to try again. The process probably took all day, but what was the better alternative? Tie a note to a pigeon’s foot and wait for a reply?

            Now fast forward about a hundred years and think of all that’s changed with social interactions. Individuals can’t stay away from their phones for longer than thirty minutes. I’m not sure if that’s scientifically proven, but I’m sure there are statistics out there that prove this theory to some extent. Everything has become social media based. You buy something to show it off on the Internet, you date somebody to show them off to your enemies, you pay for a gym membership to take photos at the gym to show your friennemies that you are more motivated than they are. The main point is, everything has become Internet based. Nobody cares to visit or call anymore because it’s all about the text messages and likes on Facebook or Instagram. I didn’t realize how much of an impact social media had on me until the day I accidentally logged myself out of my Instagram account and couldn’t find my password to log back in. What do you mean I have to start another account? How am I going to gather 600 followers and 200 likes again? It was time to give myself a reality check! After all, when you find yourself praying to God to remember your lost password, you definitely realize that you have an Internet problem.

            During my winter break, I thought it would be a good idea to detach myself from the world of the Internet. I thought an Internet cleanse would be perfect for me. My friends were all betting that I wouldn’t last longer than a day, but, I’m proud to say, I was social media sober for two weeks straight. Imagine: 14 days, 336 hours, 21,600 minutes, and 1,296,000 seconds without any likes, pokes, or friend requests. The first day was the hardest. I deleted all of my social apps and had my sister change my passwords. I felt like I had completely lost touch with civilization. I still kept my text messaging on, just so my boyfriend and friends didn’t worry about me getting abducted by aliens. However, text messaging was never the problem, social media was. I felt like I was constantly wrapped around the whole idea of likes and needing the approval of strangers on the internet. Social media is great to keep in touch and to see what friends are up to, but the problem becomes when we have to analyze things before we share them just because we want the people who see them to like us more or give us compliments so we feel better about ourselves.

            After detaching myself from the Internet, I realized that the only approval I needed was from myself. I found myself doing things I enjoyed for me, not for the world to see. I started going to the gym more frequently and actually working out instead of sitting on the floor on my phone. I got back to writing in my journal. I even started renovating my room into a more adult-like design. My routine had been broken. When I woke up every morning, my instinct was not to check my phone and my social media. Instead, I would go on YouTube and play a song to get me out of bed! I started noticing a positive change in myself and completely felt detached from needing the approval of others to make me feel good about myself. The Internet cleanse was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but it was also one of the greatest things to cleanse my soul. After those two weeks, I’m convinced that Satan, if he does exist, has created social media merely for the reason to make us addicted and feed off social approval instead of taking actual care of ourselves.

            I am a survivor. I made it without social media for two weeks and so can you. Living in the type of world that we live in today, I do believe that with time, the Internet will only start to bloom even more. Before we know it, people won’t even need to physically visit one another anymore. Instead, computers will probably do all the work for us. It’s scary to think about, but it is definitely possible with the increase in technological advances. I feel that individuals, especially teens, thrive off of social media because it makes them feel good about themselves. You can be whoever you want on the Internet. You can choose to only show the good parts of yourself. You can angle and photoshop yourself in any way you please. All that matters is that you get comments and likes. It’s a nice idea conceptually, but it only makes us live for other people instead of ourselves. I strongly recommend that the best remedy to living a full life is detaching yourself from the Internet world and realizing that there are a million things that can bring you happiness and make you feel good about yourself; without you needing to broadcast it to strangers.