June 17 (UPI) — Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Isaac Rochell has started a campaign to raise awareness for unhealthy social media habits.
Rochell started the “See you on Sunday” campaign, which encourages participants to use Saturdays to abstain from social media each week. The Chargers defender knew social media was a part of his brand but started to recognize his use of the platforms was becoming indulgent.
Rochell has more than 16,000 Instagram followers. He has additional accounts for his photography and the campaign.
He wrote a letter for ESPN about the cause, which was published Saturday. Rochell said that he began using social media to communicate with friends. He later used the platform to communicate with recruiters. Rochell said he eventually began being “solely concerned” with his aesthetic.
“Suddenly, my self-worth was contingent on how I was perceived online,” he wrote.
Rochell went on to a college career at Notre Dame, when the social media platforms began to cause him stress, anxiety and jealousy. He said his social media indulgence got worse when he was drafted by the Chargers.
“As a professional athlete, you learn one thing quickly: You will always be highly scrutinized by fans on social media, and there is an accompanying expectation for you to be perfect,” Rochell wrote. “An athlete might post a picture-perfect highlight reel of their life on and off the field to Instagram, but they are encountering and dealing with the same challenging emotions that any other user, or human, feels. Jealousy, anxiety, sadness, anger — no matter how picturesque our lives might look, athletes deal with these emotions just like anyone else.”
Rochell’s agent dissuaded him from deleting his social media pages. He now uses the platforms to educate others about how to be healthy on social media.
“Social media is one of the most time-consuming things we do and — as with any time-consuming activity — we must discuss the health risks and benefits,” Rochell wrote. “I would never play football days on end. Instead, every six days, I take a day off. I view social media the same way, and we are inviting social media users to take Saturday’s off.”
The 6-foot-4, 280-pound pass-rusher was a seventh-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He had 29 tackles, six tackles for a loss, five sacks, an interception and a pass defensed in 16 games last season for the Chargers.
Rochell said many participants in his campaign take up new activities in the time that they have when not on social media. Rochell said he enjoys being more present with the people he is with during his time off of his phone.
“Whatever I’m doing I just like to be a little bit more engaged and more present because I don’t have this distraction,” Rochell said in an Instagram video. “Social media is not evil, but how can we be healthier?”