I personally don’t use any social media. Shocking, isn’t it? I used Myspace back in the day, and did originally have a Facebook page. I closed it down in early 2011, and have never looked back. Aside from my parents, I don’t know anyone else who isn’t on Facebook. Think about that. Of everyone you know, how many aren’t on Facebook? Just because everyone does it doesn’t necessarily make it a good thing.
So what is a social media detox?
Given the obvious extreme popularity of social media, I don’t think I’m going to convince you to delete your Facebook page any time soon. But please consider taking a short break from it. Just a week or even a weekend to see how you feel. Call it a vacation, or a detox, or a chance to get a whole lot of other stuff done in that hour and 40 minutes you’ll save per day.
Here are some benefits you can reap from taking a break from social media:
1. Get off the comparison roller coaster
Comparison is the killer of joy. Consider this scenario: You wake up on a Monday morning, ready to face the day. You scroll through Facebook as you sip your coffee, and see that the girl you sat next to in third grade is leaving for a tropical vacation. Again. And your college roommate’s best friend has posted about her work promotion and beautiful new car. And your sister’s childhood friend is taking her beautiful kids to the zoo today. Pretty soon you see your Monday as another tedious, tiring workday, followed by a mundane evening of couch sitting. Joy killed. Now imagine if you had just gotten up, ready to face the day, gotten ready and gone to work, uninfluenced by people you’re not even supposed to be keeping tabs on.
2. Be far more productive with your time
Have you been meaning to read a book, exercise, or clean out your closet? You can certainly work on all of that with an extra hour and 40 minutes. I promise you will feel much more accomplished making a short to-do list and crossing a few things off than you do scrolling through social media. Let go of that HUGE distraction and you can definitely be more intentional with your time.
3. Stop narrating your life in Facebook posts
I know I was totally guilty of this. My mind translated every little thing that happened to me or I witnessed into a Facebook update. Not everything is meant to be shared.
4. You can stop being annoyed by (or participating in) social media narcissism
From selfies to oversharing, posting on social media can give you an inflated illusion of your importance. The quest to get ‘likes’ and comments can require a person to spend an unhealthy amount of time and energy on curating his or her online image. Without the lens of social media, you’ll stop trying to impress and be able to experience things without the input of others. You’ll also save yourself the annoyance of reading preachy political and drama-creating posts.
5. You’ll remember that it is not a true representation of real life
Speaking of ‘curating’ your image, count on the fact that you never get the whole story when it comes to what people post on social media. Remember your childhood classmate who’s headed to a tropical vacation? She neglected to post that all her trips have put her in $20k of credit card debt, and she has no idea how to pay it back. Your roommate’s friend and her new promotion? Did she mention that her job is so stressful that she can’t sleep? And your sister’s friend who’s taking her beautiful kids to the zoo doesn’t feel like she can say that she’s very lonely in her role as a stay at home mom and can’t face another day in the house.
6. You can work on your real life relationships
If you spoke to the people above in real life, the struggles that make them human might actually get said. And sharing our struggles with each other is one of the way we form real-life relationships. Don’t assume that you have friendships with your social media followers. Nothing can take the place of actual conversation. Try calling a friend, or suggesting meeting up for coffee or dinner.
7. You can work on overcoming FOMO
This may be the hardest part of the detox for some. Some experts agree that social media is designed to be addictive due to humans’ ingrained fear of missing out. You very well may have feelings of withdrawal. Turning off your notifications should make it a little easier. And rest assured that you won’t really miss anything important. Focus on your life and priorities for a couple days and see how that feels.
8. You can focus on living in the moment
Documenting so much of your life on social media can detract from truly experiencing it. If you’re at a wedding or watching your child’s preschool graduation, and you’re focused on posting pictures and updates, you’ll practically miss it all. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re ‘creating memories’ by documenting it on social media. If you weren’t paying full attention to the experience, you won’t actually remember it much at all. And those are moments you won’t ever get back. Pictures of the event cannot ever take the place of actually experiencing it.
9. Improve your mood
Do you feel down a lot? You may not even realize that social media can play a huge factor in that. Studies show that the amount of time spent on social media can be linked to depression and anxiety. Feelings of inferiority when comparing yourself to others, obsessively Facebook stalking your ex, wasting so much time browsing friends’ profiles, and the competition involved in trying to get lots of followers and likes all add up to feelings of disconnect and emptiness.
10. Reconnect with yourself
Without realizing it, many people use social media as a source of external validation. Your self-worth is just that – SELF worth. How many likes or shares you receive on a post does not establish how smart or funny you are, or how interesting your life is. And it’s very easy for others to leave rude or judgmental comments from the safety of their keyboards. In the absence of social media, you’ll have a chance to reconnect with yourself and your priorities without the incessant input of others.
Ok so you’ve taken a day, a weekend, or a week away from social media. If you’re not ready to part with it forever, now is a great chance to make some changes to how you use it.
Block everyone in your feed who makes you feel inferior, who post angry rants, or who say things you find offensive, annoying, or depressing. Leave those friends in your feed who post inspirational quotes, funny images, and cute animal pics. Try your best to post positive things as well, or hey, don’t post much at all. Maybe after the detox you’ll realize you need a lot less attention than you think you do.
Have you ever tried taking a break from social media? How did it feel?