I used to be quite active on social media. I had Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and I used Buffer to schedule my social media posts a few days out. I studied up on my hashtagging and made an effort to build followers, at one point I had close to 3000 followers on Twitter, but recently, I found I wasn’t using any of these outlets much and scrolling through my feed on any of these platforms, I realized I didn’t recognize many people and the posts and stories I saw weren’t really enriching my life. So I decided to do something about it.
Removing Myself from Social Media
Shortly after my birthday, I deactivated my Facebook account, but keep my Facebook messenger account open, and closed my Twitter and Snapchat accounts. I decided to keep my Instagram account since I like taking pictures and it was one of the few social media outlets I actually enjoyed creating content for. I removed most of my instagram followers and unfollowed a bunch of the people I was following.
I’ve noticed I feel more positive recently. I find myself comparing myself to others less often. I don’t think about how I need to take this photo or write this post when I’m out and about. I feel more present in the moment knowing my brain isn’t devoting extra effort to how I would share this experience with social media. Occasionally, I’ll find myself about to type in Facebook into my browser and I’ll stop myself realizing that I don’t have an account anymore. I think it’s freed up some of my time that I would otherwise have spent on Snapchat or Facebook aimlessly scrolling. Now that I follow fewer people on Instagram, I find I spend less time on there. There are fewer posts, since I’m following fewer people, and the posts that I do see are more meaningful because it’s a select group of people I actually know and am interested in.
What do I do with this information?
I’m not advocating for anyone else to do this, but it really did help me. I can still contact people by calling them or emailing them and having a real discussion vs. just ‘liking’ a post. I don’t consider myself superior to anyone on social media, and I think social media is a powerful tool and very helpful to a number of people. My only recommendation would be to consider how social media is affecting your life and if it’s for the better, keep it. However, if it’s not improving your life or you don’t have a business or brand you represent, maybe consider taking a break from it.
How can I take a break?
Before I got off Facebook, I removed all but my closest friends. That helped reduce my newsfeed and only see a small group of people I actually kept up with. I also removed the social media apps from my phone so that if I wanted to use them, I had to do so from my computer. That change kept me more present in the moment, as I’d need to go home and get on my computer to access social media.
Making a mental note of your social media habits can be helpful as well. You can just make a note of ‘it’s been an hour and I’m laying on my couch scrolling through my newsfeed for the umteenth time’ or you can be more calculating about it by installing an app on your phone or a browser extension to see how much time you are really spending on social media (hint: it’s probably more than you expected)
Goals for 2019
I’d like to take this experiment a bit further. The next great hurdle would be getting off of Reddit or curating the way I use it a bit more. I’d like to reduce the time I spend scrolling through r/all and focus on just looking at a curated feed of specific interests such as r/worldnews, r/news, and subreddits related to hobbies of mine.
Another goal for me is to figure out what to do with the time I gain from not using social media. It’s helpful to get off social media and free up your time, but I think freed up time is only as good as what you replace it with. Which brings me to my goals for 2019. I’d like to read more books. I spend hours a day reading news and reading for work, but I rarely read for pleasure anymore. I’d like to read a few books this year, I realize that’s a really low goal to set, but I estimate I read 0 books last year, so reading 1 would already be a step up.