In her monthly column, Jacinta trials new self-care rituals and other forms of bettering yourself, and reports back to us with her experiences. Her goal is to make free forms of self-care that have lasting positive effects more well known and approachable to students and readers alike.
I finally did it, the dreaded digital detox. I knew when I started writing a column about serious self-care, that I was going to have to do a digital detox eventually. But I kept putting it off. In fact, the days leading up to the beginning of my detox were surprisingly filled with anxiety and a lot of bargaining. Maybe I could push it back a few months or not do it at all? What if I miss out on some really important news, or Zendaya and Tom Holland break up and I’m the last to hear about it? Needless to say, I did not miss anything important, and I was relieved to find that Hollywood’s sweethearts were still a thing when I logged back in after a few weeks off the internet.
Honestly, I have been wanting to take an internet break for a very long time, but scrolling works in a similar way to an addiction. You’re never really satisfied, but you find yourself always going back for more. This may be a little embarrassing to admit, but since I first joined Instagram at the young young age of 13, I don’t think a single day has passed that I have not scrolled. Yeah, I know – big yikes. This break was long overdue. I knew I had a bit of an Instagram problem when one day I looked at my following list and was shocked to see that I was following over 3,500 accounts. 3,500!? Who were all these people? I know you, reader, don’t know who they were, but it turns out I didn’t know them either. A few months ago, I started the gruelling task of unfollowing over 2,450 accounts. I’m still trying to get it below 1,000 people. Here’s a word of warning for anyone who needs to do the same thing – Instagram throws a hissy fit when you unfollow hundreds of people in a day. They will block you from unfollowing anymore for almost a week, so just take it slow.
So, on September 15th, I deleted Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter (or X, depending which way you swing), Hinge, and Tinder. These last four I don’t use a whole lot, but I knew without Instagram and TikTok, I would spend a lot more time on them. So, I had to delete the lot. The apps that I kept were Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and BeReal. Hear me out, I have my reasons. I need to keep Messenger because that is where my work group chat is, and I need to be able to see my roster and all those ‘just a reminder to whoever closed last night’ messages. Those are important, because they are often directed at me. As for Snapchat and BeReal, I decided to keep these because on both I have only my closest friends, most of which do not live in Brisbane, and I don’t get to see them regularly. My main reason for the detox was to quit the doom scrolling and pointless celebrity news, so I felt that these apps were okay to keep since keeping in touch with my close friends is something that brings me a lot of happiness. And I found over my month-long detox that I wasn’t spending that much more time on these apps anyway, so I guess it worked out well.
I’ll be honest, the first few days felt a little odd. No more scrolling before bed or first thing in the morning, and no more posting stupid little memes on my Instagram story. But it was actually a lot easier going cold turkey than I thought it would be. I assumed that friends and family would be holding back a rabid version of myself, my finger lingering over the App Store feverishly. But it didn’t happen. It turns out that out of sight, out of mind actually works. Thank you Out of Mind Out of Sight, the 1985 banger released by Australian post-punk band Models! Those guys really know what they’re singing about. I barely even missed Instagram and TikTok that much, which was a pleasant surprise.
The biggest thing I noticed after cutting down my screen time was that I spent a lot more time doing the things that I love, and being more productive. Of course, this wasn’t that surprising, but I was shocked all the same. So, freeing up hours and hours of my day doing useless shit actually makes me a more focused person? The truth really does hurt sometimes.
The same week I started my detox, I also started an online artist challenge called The Alphabet Superset, created by the amazing Aussie artist Campbell Walker (also known as @struthless69 on Instagram). He went a little viral a few years ago for drawing well known cartoon characters in many different art styles. If you’re not familiar, definitely check out his work. Basically, the challenge was for any artist wanting to create a large body of work. The challenge consisted of creating a work of art – whether that be a drawing, painting, a short story, anything really – that started with the letter ‘A’ in week one, the letter ‘B’ in week two, and so on. I decided to take part in this challenge right in the middle of my second semester of my second year at university because I am insane, and I love making things hard for myself. My goal was to create a portfolio of tattoo flash sheets, so that I could work on my drawing skills and have something to show a studio when I eventually try to land a tattoo apprenticeship sometime in the future. Drawing has always been something I have found hard to make time for, but when I started this challenge, all of a sudden I had time and energy to work on my art . The work I did was satisfying and fun, because there wasn’t the constant distraction of my phone to constantly worry about. The detox made me realise how your phone can be your biggest enemy when creating, and how we often allow for the allure of the internet to self-sabotage.
So, I deeply regret to report that digital detoxes are everything people say they are and more. You will have more time, more energy, and you will be happier. You will spend more time doing the things you love and seeing the people you love. I know, this is devastating news.
My Recommended Resources for getting the most out of your digital detox
You have probably already heard of Bo Burnham’s famous 2021 special Inside, or at least seen snippets of it on TikTok. Burnham created, filmed, and directed this homemade special in the comfort of his own home during COVID lockdowns. The special follows his real or exaggerated descent into loneliness and paranoia, with a slew of comedic and catchy songs, most of which address the topic of our society’s scary internet dependency. Some of my personal favourites are White Woman’s Instagram, a song which starts out as satirical observation of white peoples’ Instagram habits but has a surprisingly sad ending, and That Funny Feeling, a song about the horrors of the world, which was actually covered by Phoebe Bridgers. For someone who writes self-explained ‘silly songs’, Burnham has over 4.8 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
This album does exactly what it says it will do – inquire into online relationships, briefly. It explores the role of online communication in our modern society and how it stunts our relationships. Some notable mentions from the band’s third album include It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You) and Sincerity Is Scary, both of which are pretty pop-y songs with a darker underlying meaning.
This book is more about the encouragement of living life fully rather than being a discouragement against the internet, but those are basically the same things if you think about it. Wilson shares her experiences with loneliness, travel, and isolation in a post-pandemic world with the reader and offers a lot of important advice and interesting statements, such as “our loneliness is not caused by being on our own. Indeed, loneliness is best cured with aloneness, which is to say, a meaningful connection to ourselves”.
Jacinta Rossetto is a writer, artist and editor who is studying a BFA in Creative Writing minoring in Journalism at QUT. Her passion project is a little something called Dawn Street Zine, a zine that she writes, designs, produces and scouts content for. Her favourite genres to write in are gothic fiction, literary fiction and romance fiction. Jacinta has sold her works at Marketto, a small-business market run by Forge Forward, as well as taken part in the Brisbane Writer’s Festival Zine Market. Jacinta identifies as queer, has two German shepherds and eighteen tattoos.