After taking over two weeks off social media, not only did I feel less stressed, I also felt much more focused. I was also pleasantly surprised that it was much easier than I expected.
Frequent use of social media led to me feeling serious FOMO and isolation, so I decided it was finally time to take a break. At first, I strongly considered deleting all of my social media accounts, as a number of my friends have already done. However, because I move so frequently, I didn’t feel quite ready to commit to totally deleting my accounts. I have lived in 4 cities over the past 4 years, and I enjoy how social media can keep me connected to friends I have all over the country, and the world.
There were a number of reasons I wanted to take a 2-week social media detox. I can’t help but notice that my attention rate decreases when I spend more time on social media. I had especially noticed my attention rate diminish when trying to read on an e-reader. After only a few pages I would start to have an itch to click away from my book and instead mindlessly start scrolling through social media. Then I saw the research that showed why I kept going back to scrolling. I started reading articles that showed things like relating scrolling through social media to gambling, and the addictive nature of social media, and wanted to create more boundaries on my own social media use.
Here’s the steps I took to take a break from all social media:
1). Delete all social media apps from my smartphone
You can re-download them in the future, but give yourself the gift of time for two weeks and take the apps completely off your phone. I also logged myself out of the web-browser version of Facebook to ensure I wouldn’t open that instead in times of weakness.
2). Completely eliminate, rather than moderate, social media for two weeks.
I think this was key in my 2-week trial period. I know Gretchen Rubin talks about being an “Abstainer” or a “Moderator,” and I always considered myself more of a Moderator (at least when it comes to diet). Her categories refer to if it is easier from you to completely eliminate something (social media, sugar, alcohol, etc) from your lifestyle, as opposed to have something in moderation. You can read more about her “Strategy of Abstaining” here.
I found with social media, it is much easier to completely abstain from the mindless strolling than to moderate my usage. For example, after completing the two weeks of no social media at all, I decided to log in to view some pictures of a recent trip I took that I knew my friend would post pictures of. After initially just giving myself permission to view those pictures, I inevitably caught some interesting updates in my News Feed: new engagements, birthdays, baby pictures, etc. And then I noticed myself scrolling through to see what I missed. Finally, I found myself logging in every day to get a bigger glimpse of all that I missed, until I was starting to log in multiple times a day. I still kept the social media apps from my phone, however, just itching to log in multiple times a day felt like a bad sign for me.
My current solution is: completely abstaining from social media for the time being. My only exception: the Facebook messenger app which I use infrequently, but allows me to stay connected to my friends around the world.
If you, like me, want to set limits on social media use without actually deleting your accounts I have heard one of my friends with a really great strategy. His suggestion is unfollowing all Facebook friends, so then you don’t have a news feed to get lost in. The benefit to this strategy is you can stay friends with people, and can look up your friends directly to see any life updates, but you do this intentionally, as opposed to just whenever things pop up on your News feed. It also means you won’t have a News Feed to get lost in, and thus can save time by no longer mindlessly scrolling.
I’d love to hear from you: do you set limits on your social media use?