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2019 Bucket List

Take a Social Media Break Weekly Like This Influencer

Katie Boué started practicing No Social Sundays and reclaimed her time

Like seeing a therapist and sleeping with your iPhone in another room, intentionally putting down your device will improve your life. (Photo: Brody Leven)

The average American spends 6.5 hours on the internet every day. That’s more than a quarter of our time devoted to staring at screens, absorbing news articles, cat memes, anxiety-inducing politics, and blurry iPhone photos from your second cousin in Florida.

As a social media manager and influencer, I fear my screen time clocks in far beyond the average American. I’m so disturbed by it that I haven’t updated my phone to gain access to that new feature that tells you exactly how much time you spend on your apps. I don’t want to know. Measuring that stat ranks high on the list of what keeps me up at night, right next to climate doom and political dread. So when my former assistant suggested I start logging off social media every Sunday, I decided to listen.

The rules for No Social Sundays are simple: on Sundays, stay off social media. No posting, no scrolling. No Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. If I break the rules, which I often do, I immediately restart—no shame. No matter how imperfect any No Social Sunday’s practice is, I don’t feel bad about it. These weekly abstinences aren’t graded, scored, or available for anyone else’s judgment. No Social Sunday is my personal practice.

I started No Social Sundays because my assistant was right and I am frustrated by my relationship with technology. The connectivity of my millennial generation (I’m 30 years old) is a powerful tool I believe in deeply—and one that my entire career is built upon—but we need to establish boundaries.

When I think about the times I’ve felt happiest, it’s always when I’m outdoors without cell service. It’s that relieving moment when my car clambers just deep enough into the backcountry for all those little bars of connection to disappear. I’m unhooked from my digital tether and am forced to be present. Whatever is happening in the ether and rest of the world becomes insignificant.

What if you could recreate that feeling at home, too? That’s what No Social Sundays are for.

Most of my days start the same: I wake up, slap glasses on my face, scoot in my bathrobe toward the commode, grab a smartphone along the way, and find myself perched on the toilet, opening my notifications. Emails, Instagram, Twitter, iCal, to-do list. Check.

But not on Sundays.

Rarely, there’s a purpose (like enjoying time-sensitive Instagram story videos for a few minutes after a dear friend’s wedding), but mostly I don’t need the phone in my hand. So I put it down and try to move on. The rest of my Sunday goes like that—a perpetual dance of finding my phone in my hands, wondering how it got there, and disposing of it facedown in another room. Each week, the void between moments of reaching for it grows. I’m slowly, sloppily learning how to detach my body from my phone.

The exercise of No Social Sunday opens up room to explore the rest of my life. I’ve taken up watercolor painting. My art still looks like it was done by a fourth grader, but an hour of haphazard paint dribbling easily surpasses an hour of mindless feed scrolling. I’ve started reading books again—something I haven’t done in years. As a kid, I devoured them, but with the advent of handheld internet access, I stopped reading books and started reading screens.

The Sunday shift away from screens and back to paper was not a magical transformation. It wasn’t a proud or profound moment when I set my phone down in protest. Frankly, I was just bored. That is the root of our phone addictions: we’ve forgotten how to just be bored. If we have “nothing” to do, we whip out our phones, but I’m finding other ways to fill my time. I can’t pick up my smartphone, so I pick up a paint brush, a book, or a watering can instead. Admittedly, I still occasionally use my iPhone to capture photos on Sundays, but last weekend I charged my Nikon DSLR and took proper photos for the first time in two years. Progress.

Like seeing a therapist and sleeping with your iPhone in another room, intentionally putting down your device will improve your life. Make it your own. Sundays are my ideal day to disconnect, but maybe that doesn’t work for you. If 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays is the only time you can reasonably unplug, try it then. Free on Monday mornings? Go for it.

Remember, it’s a practice, not a punishment. Use it to rediscover your favorite hobbies and reclaim your time.

Filed To: Social MediaTechnologyWellness
Lead Photo: Brody Leven
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