This project was a journal of my experience of truly abstaining from social media for one week during the spring of 2021. In order to legitimize this undertaking, I first have to admit to my usage of social media at the time. It was significant for me to abstain from it. It had gotten really bad in the year prior—due to the pandemic, I wasn't working, I wasn't  at school, and I wasn't able to do much outside of the house. Using social media replaced relationships and adventures.

It is embarrassing to put it into words, but for most days during the early part of the pandemic,  I logged a cumulative total of 8-9 hours (sometimes more) spent on social media. Most of it was just reading, consuming — small chunks of time that added up. I didn't even post, most days.

For this project, I completely abstained from social media for 7 days. No Instagram, no Facebook, no Reddit. No messenger, which cut off contact with a group of internet friends I speak to daily. I deleted all social media apps on my phone and signed out of all accounts from my browser.

I kept a journal, writing a few times per day, and I also kept count of the number of times my body automatically jumped to use social media. I kept a post-it on my phone so I could record this accurately.

I tried not to draw any conclusions about social media while I was performing the week off, I wanted to freely record thoughts and observations, whether I perceived them to be positive or negative.

This exercise confirmed what I knew all along—using social media so much was really damaging to me. My anxiety levels decreased,  I read more, I was more prodcutive around the house, I was more attentive with my family.

That should be the end, right? I mean, clearly avoiding social media is the right choice. But it seems to be more and more the case that social media isn't optional anymore. My recent run for school committee happened mostly on Facebook, a platform that I try my best to avoid.  Sharing art and ideas with my classmates happens on Instagram. I learn cool things and write funny one-liners on Reddit. But how can I use these platforms responsibly? Even after I have studied this topic obsessively for two years, I still don't know. I am still using them too much.

I would like to make this abstention and journaling process a regular occurence. I want to be a good role model for my children and my students. This thesis book that you're holding now, and many of the projects within were born out of this journaling process, and it's a stepping stone to much more.