Good For the Soul - Social Media Detox
In a world where social media dominates our lives, it can be hard to take a break from it. But I decided to try just that: for the entire month of July, I went on a (semi) complete social media detox. I deleted all social media off of my phone only allowing myself a small window of social media time every couple of days on my laptop. It was easier than I thought, but it also brought me to a few realizations as well.
I Have A Confession.
I have a confession to make.
As a social media user, I am part of the problem. Social media is not good for your mental health. In fact it's the opposite, social media can cause anxiety and depression among other things.
I think by now most of us realize this fact but yet, we decide to ignore it. That's just how it works: slowly over time until one day you wake up feeling sick to your stomach because someone commented on a picture from two years ago saying "You've changed."
We all know what happens next—you start scrolling through their feed looking for validation that yes, maybe there's some truth in what they're saying but no matter how hard you search there will never be enough evidence (if any) that proves them wrong. Because deep down we know not all of these people actually care about us or our lives; they simply want us to validate theirs with our attention.
This feels a little harsh but I truly hope by bringing awareness to the perils of social media and the benefits of a detox we can work towards creating safer spaces online.
What Led To My Social Media Detox?
Social media is a powerful tool that can connect us to our friends and family, but it's also a time suck. The average person (myself included) spends more than an hour per day on social media sites, according to the Pew Research Center.
This means that if you're like me and check your Instagram feed three times per hour during work hours (I'm bad at faking productivity), then you'll spend over 20 hours of your life scrolling through other people's feeds each year.
For me, nighttime is even worse. Don't get me started on the pure amount of time that I've wasted scrolling endlessly through my social media feeds until three or four in the morning. Scrolling so late in the night that my feed refresh didn't have any new content. Knowing that I wanted and needed to sleep, but yet I could resist "The Scroll".
I came to a very important realization. I don't want my time on this earth spent scrolling through other people's content instead of living my own story and creating content as I see fit.
I also don't want to waste any more time on apps that constantly send me push notifications or make me feel guilty when I haven't logged on for 10 minutes in a row. So here's what I did about it:
- I delete all of my social media apps from my phone (except for email). The only things that are left are those necessary for work.
- If I ever decide to re-download social media apps on my phone, it will be with serious restrictions. No mindless scrolling allowed!
If you're looking to carry out a social media detox, there are many things to consider. Deciding how long and how often you'll be going without social media, is the most important first step.
Keep in mind that the point isn't merely about staying off Facebook or Twitter. Rather it's about being present in a way that allows us to fully engage with those around us—and ourselves—in the moment (i.e., without distraction). This can help us maintain healthy relationships not only with other people but also with ourselves.
My Social Media Detox Was A Lot Harder Than I Thought It Would Be
I thought I would have a hard time adjusting to my new life without social media, but it was a lot harder than I expected.
I was surprised by how much I missed out on during the first few days of my detox. The first few days were really tough because I felt like I was missing out on my friends' lives and what they were doing and saying. And then, after some time, when those feelings had passed and I realized that none of them had died or moved away or changed jobs in those two weeks (and given the nature of some people's social media use), all that worry seemed so silly.
But there's no question that breaking up with all these platforms was worth it—the benefits outweighed any drawbacks by far!
Do A Social Media Detox For Your Mental Health
There’s a good chance that you are addicted to your phone. Whether it be posting on Instagram or snapping a photo of your food, we all enjoy being connected with people around the world. However, there are some negative effects that can come from social media.
One of the most common side effects of social media is distraction. We often find ourselves checking our phones when we should be focused on other tasks—a research study found that students who used their phones during class were more likely to struggle academically than those who didn’t use their phones at all (1). Social media also has an effect on people who have anxiety disorders; one study showed that 75% of people with an anxiety disorder spent at least 3 hours per day on social media (2). This is not only time consuming but can make these individuals feel worse because they spend so much time thinking about it rather than focusing on what they could do in real life!
How To Go On A Social Media Cleanse When You're Addicted To Instagram, Twitter & Facebook
You can start by blocking social media from your phone. If you use an Android or iPhone, there are apps that allow you to do this. On Android devices, it’s called “App Lock” and for iPhones, it's called “Lock Internet Preferences” (which is also available in the Google Play Store). Once that's done, close out any open web browser windows or tabs as well.
Next step: delete your Facebook account if you don't want to commit to a full detox yet (but consider doing so after this cleanse! We'll talk more about why later). Clearing out all those photos and memories can be difficult—but with enough willpower and determination anything is possible!
If at any point during this process one feels tempted by the addictive nature of social media...Don't give in!
The Lost Art Of Conversation In The Age Of Social Media
As social media sites have proliferated over the past decade, so too has the attention of our society. We spend more time on our phones than any other device, and much of that time is spent in social media apps. This habit has had a profound effect on how we interact with each other—and with ourselves. In addition to making us less empathetic, less present and less human, social media has also made us less happy—and it's not hard to see why:
If you're constantly staring down at your phone instead of talking with someone face-to-face or spending quality time alone (both important for developing depth), then it's easy for your happiness levels to dip.
Your brain is stimulated by new information from notifications, text messages and articles sent from friends on Facebook Messenger rather than seeing them in person; this stimulation keeps dopamine flowing through your system but doesn't provide as much actual value as regular conversation does. You're essentially trading real life experiences for virtual ones that don't necessarily benefit you in any meaningful way long-term because they don't necessarily help improve your relationships or make you feel grounded in reality when compared against interactions where people actually listen to one another without distractions like smartphones always being nearby.
Being (mostly) social media free has given my life more depth.
If you're not sure if you need to detox from social media, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I keep my phone on me at all times?
- Is my phone always within reach?
- Do I check my phone first thing in the morning and last thing before bed?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time for a detox.
The first step is eliminating social media from your daily routine.
You may want to try going cold turkey or gradually reducing your usage over several weeks—but either way, take this time off as an opportunity for self-reflection and self-improvement (i.e., don't use it as an excuse for binging Netflix). It's also important that you choose activities that will satisfy your mind and soul; otherwise, you'll likely find yourself missing those quick dopamine hits from likes and shares! If possible, keep a journal of what goes on during this period of abstinence so that later on in life when things start getting hectic again (and they inevitably will), it'll be easier to remember why taking breaks is so important!
I’m going to keep this last part short and sweet because I know you want to get back to your life. I’d like to say that there is no bad time to detox from social media. It can be an extremely helpful tool in getting yourself back on track or just making some changes in your life, which is why it’s so important not only for individuals but also companies and brands who need an online presence today.