When you think of a cleanse, images of “hangry” people sipping on pulpy green juices might come to mind. Ever since Regina George declared that she was partaking in the South Beach Fat Flush where all you drink is cranberry juice for 72 hours, cleanses have gotten a bad rep. The kind of cleanse that I’m suggesting isn’t good for your digestive system, but instead, for your soul—a social media cleanse.
I’d first like to say that I’m just as guilty as the next millennial. I’m addicted to Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Facebook. When I went to Cuba last summer, I did a month-long social media cleanse (courtesy of spotty WiFi and a stolen phone). The month I spent in Cuba ended up being the best month of my life. I believe it’s because the social media cleanse forced me to live in the moment, and it increased my self-esteem.
Firstly, being without my phone and social media forced me to be more present. Since I was in a foreign country with 20 other students who were strangers to me, it would’ve been easy to bury my face in my phone to avoid those awkward introductory moments. Instead of sitting at dinner texting, I struck up a conversation with the person next to me. I learned that we both had taken a few of the same classes. Rather than walking to class as I watched Snapchat stories, I spent the 25-minute walk listening to another student tell me about how he finds peace in fishing. Instead of scrolling through Instagram before I fell asleep, I talked to my roommate about her love of horoscopes. Soon enough, these uncomfortable relationships turned into real friendships. I don’t think I would’ve developed these friendships had I been a social media recluse.
Furthermore, I discovered the beauty of Cuba without the distraction of my phone. Being social media-less was also great for my self-esteem. As an avid fashion fanatic, I follow a whole slew of social media starlets on Instagram. Most of them are 20-somethings who live in L.A. and wear Reformation rompers, Steve Madden wedges, and Jacquie Aiche hoops just to walk their dogs.
While in Cuba, I didn’t scroll through these posts for a month. I thought I would miss this daily ritual of mine, but it actually made me feel like a superstar. I hadn’t realized that I’d been comparing my face, body, and life to those of these starlets. This inadvertently made me feel insecure about myself. Social media made me equate a beautiful person with a happy person, but it was extremely powerful for me to prove this idea was wrong. I lived with short hair and went makeup-free. I was eternally sweaty but happier than I’d ever been in Cuba.
Challenge yourself to a social media cleanse this July! If a month is too long for you, just commit to a week or even a day. Share your experience on social media, and tag us @CFashionista (ironic, I know).