I Have 325K Followers On Instagram. Here’s Why I Took a Social Media Detox

social-media-detox-nikki-sharp
03 Feb 2017

I’m Nikki Sharp, a wellness expert, health coach, and best-selling author of The 5-Day Real Food Detox. These are all things I have accomplished through my career in the wellness industry. However, most people hear my name and declare that I’m a “social media influencer.”

This is something that I did not choose to become; it is a title that got assigned to me because I gained a lot of followers on Instagram—325,000 to be exact. So it was pretty big news to my community when I decided to take a social media detox in the middle of December for 30 days.

It’s now officially been 38 days since I set a social foot on any platform, and I figured it was a great time to share the big WHY I decided to get off.

How 325,000 followers changed the purpose of my social channels

Being a social media influencer is a big deal these days. People think you make thousands of dollars from a post, that brands constantly approach you, and that you get to travel the world and do epic things. While some of this is true—I do get to travel lots—being an influencer is incredibly hard work and not all the glitz and glam it seems. I ended up becoming an influencer because I was posting shots that motivated me to live a healthier life a few years ago. People liked what I posted and kept following me. Soon I was up to 50k, then 100k, then suddenly over 300k and I was a true “influencer.”

The problem was, when I started my account it was all about posting things that I thought would help people live happier and healthier lives. I wanted to share my struggles in order to truly help others know they weren’t alone and to inspire everyone so they could make it out of darker times into better ones. So as my account grew, so did the evaluation of how much my engagement was, follower count, and whether it was worth using me to promote a brand. Suddenly, my message of health and wellness was no longer being shared; instead, I was posting beautiful, highly curated pictures of my life with silly captions. I wasn’t feeling authentic in my message anymore, and all I cared about was getting great engagement.

It’s time to uncouple my self-worth from all types of measurement.

When you have the potential to make money on your channels, everything changes. I lost the plot and stopped posting what inspired me. I cared too much about how my feed looked, how many followers I had, and how well my pictures did. It started to wear on me, and I no longer felt inspired by the one thing that gave me passion to create a career in a new industry—which was to help others!

This is a great place to share that I used to model and would get measured all over my body, including hips, waist, bust, neck, etc. My value was so highly tied to how my body looked that when I left the modeling world, I truly didn’t know what my own value was outside of a number. Ironically, the same thing happened to me the day I decided to go off social media.

I felt like my value as a human being had been tied to numbers on my channels instead of a positive message. This is, of course, my own doing and no one else’s influence on me; however, it’s not easy to be labeled an influencer and have companies judge you solely based on your performance metrics. You, of course, compare yourself to others as well; it’s a natural part of life. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t passionate, and I wasn’t staying true to why I was on social in the first place.

So I decided to get offline for 30 days to rejuvenate my soul and truly understand why I was online in the first place.

My detox rules:

 

 

  • Sign out of all social channels.
  • Delete every app off my phone including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, YouTube, etc.
  • Not get on a single dating app (I was only on one at the time).
  • Not check a single thing for 30 days.
  • I also challenged myself to stop checking the news as much as possible.

So on December 10 (actually the night of the 9th) I signed out of everything and very honestly, felt an immense pressure lifted. The next few weeks changed everything for me, and I can genuinely say I am a different person than I was over a month ago. Following are a few short journal entries that I did throughout the detox.

My detox journal:

Day 3 no social

Feel great not checking it. Realize how others check it so much. I know I’m going through a lot right now and understanding that in order to truly go through this change, I need to do it without social. It’s a distraction and doesn’t allow us to truly become the people we are meant to be because we are constantly trying to be something great (better than we are?). Not necessarily all people. 

Day 10 no social

Find I’m still not using my time as productively as I thought I would. Interestingly I need to make an intention of it. Realize we are never allowing our minds to “be bored” or sit with no entertainment.

Day 16 no social

I find that it’s boredom that I want to check things, not because I actually care about what’s going on. Which makes me realize I need to work on meditation! Not missing posting though or checking others. 

Day—who knows? Off social

Feeling really good. So many wonderful things from being off and awareness of others who sit at dinner on all the time. I don’t want to be a current status quo influencer. I want to be a REAL influencer. Like Oprah. {*Side note, she’s my role model.}

No social

Don’t want to get back on. Definitely going to go longer than a month. It’s been so good not being on!

As you can see, I started off counting how long I’d been on, and by the end of it I had no idea and didn’t care. I was off and felt amazing. I realized so many wonderful things throughout the time I was off, and now that I’m slowly coming back online, I am appreciative of NOT being online at all times of the day.

Social-media-detox-nikki-sharp

I did a social media detox for 30-plus days. Here’s what I learned.

No one truly cared that I was off. I thought it was going to be this big grand event and I’d get texts for a week of people asking how it was going, which didn’t happen. No one cared as we are all going through our own lives.

Our phones and all social sites are a distraction.

We never allow our minds to be bored and need constant stimulation. We need to learn to become “bored” with ourselves in order to truly live a fulfilling and happy life.

I connected with friends and family like never before.

I saw people, called them, they called me, and we met for coffee. I even started a book club with friends during this time with my closest friends.

Loneliness kicked in at home.

Because I don’t have a boyfriend, there were many nights I craved being on a dating site just to have a bit of interaction with the opposite sex.

I became FAR more productive.

I started working on projects that I hadn’t ever imagined I would be doing and challenging myself to work harder and smarter and really figuring out what I wanted the direction of my career to take. I’m now going into work with some absolutely amazing companies as a branding and social media consultant and I’m very excited about it.

I had to let my ego die.

This was one of the biggest lessons and hardest to explain, but my whole career has been about me. It’s been to create a brand that is my name where I sell books I write, going on TV, and am at center stage at all times. During the month off social, I realized that my career needed to be about helping others, no longer myself. I want to be more of service to other people, and it was a really, really hard thing to let go of my ego, thinking that my life needed to be about “me.” This is equally the most rewarding albeit hardest lesson.

I really do recommend a social detox. Here are some social experiments to try if you have been feeling overwhelmed being online:

  • Delete all social apps from your phone. Check things on your computer only, and at specific times.
  • Get off for one week. The world will still be there when you get back on.
  • Do it with friends and set goals for all of you. Check in with one another to see how you’re doing.
  • Get off just one app, for one day a week. Even this will help.

I cannot even begin to share everything that I experienced both before the detox and after; there is just too much that I’ve taken away from it. I can definitely tell you, though, it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I have no intention of going back to social in the way that I was on it. I want to get back to basics and post because I want to, not because I feel I have to. I want to share my triumphs as well as my struggles, so everyone knows that there is no such thing as perfection. I want to share the fact that I hit rock bottom in December and how I managed to come out of it. So, will I be back on all my social channels? Of course, but I won’t be the same on there. I truly care about my audience and helping people. I no longer care about being an influencer; I care about sharing the truth about life, happiness, and helping others to be the best they can be.

2 Responses

  1. Marisa says:

    Hello Nikki, i just seen your video on quitting social media. There are some very supportive comments from people on there. Don’t worry too much. I would love to have 300 K plus followers on IG and have achieved a book deal, all of that makes you famous in my definition, and you are an inspiration to so many of us

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