Why and How to get off of social media
I’m sure this will not be anything you’ve never heard before…but social networks have the potential to be either incredible or the opposite.
For starters, I can say that I’ve never been a true social player, being more of an observer user, just doing some of these basic tasks:
- Uploading some photos (only a few)
- Using the messaging part of the social network
- Putting likes to (almost) everything that amused/interested me
Having said that, I still managed to spend a lot of hours just, you know, scrolling through.
For quite some time, this felt right for me and of no concern. But, this was in a major conflict with another part of myself: the wanting I felt to use my time in a more useful way.
Side note: When I mean useful, I’m not saying that, for some people, a social network is not useful. By all means, there’s plenty of people out there earning (a lot ) more in a month using social networks than an average person earns throughout their entire career at a 9–5 job. And they might even be happier than me, with the ability to reach out to their loved ones easier, with sponsored travels, sponsored clothing, photoshoots, or by just “being social”. And all of that’s just fine!
Since this is me, writing through the lens of my own experience, personality, and way of living, I’ll stick to that perspective.
My typical routine on social networks was:
- Waking up after the alarm goes off and checkrolling (check and scroll — I’ll trademark this eventually) Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn to see if I’d received something (anything!) important during night time
- After having breakfast with my wife and baby daughter and all the morning rush from all the daily preparations and tasks, I’d use every holding moment (waiting for the microwave to finish its work, toasts being toasted, etc) to checkroll them
- When leaving our daughter at kindergarden, and while waiting for my wife to come back to the car, I would go on and checkroll them it yet again
- Each time I went to the bathroom, I was checkrolling again and again
- When eating a morning snack: checkroll!
- At lunchtime: checkroll!
- When eating an afternoon snack: checkroll!
- After dinner: checkroll!
- When going to bed to rest and sleep…again checkroll one last time (for that day, of course)
Notice that I used the word “check” on purpose, because most of the time, I had not received any notification (later on the notifications part), I just went there to check if there was anything new/interesting for me. And that’s when you know something’s not right.
When you do the simple math and sum those minutes for just ONE day, you see that your time could be spent on other activities. Because, if like me, you have the desire to have enriching experiences, to have deep and defying conversations, to work on a side project to gain your financial independence, to work out more, reading an educational book, learning how to manage and invest your earnings, learning to cook (whatever!), then you’ll feel all that time spent scrolling and checking could be either reduced or completely removed and be used for those other activities and tasks.
I believe this is the key point: time. We have 24 hours in a day, most of them probably sleeping, working/studying, so it leaves us the other fraction to use as we please. If you spend 3 hours a day on social networks, when will you start reading/writing that book? When will you have the time to go to a park for a walk and to relax and relieve you of all that stress? Will those extra minutes in the bathroom, at lunchtime just make you take longer to perform your work and thus making you leave later?
Another important factor is our natural jealous/envious reflex when seeing other people sharing their (apparent) happiness when we’re having a lousy day. It’s ok to admit that sometimes we do feel jealous of other people’s accomplishments and experiences, as long as it is not in a harmful way! As the old saying goes, what the eyes don’t see the heart doesn’t grieve. The less you feel that way, the likelier you are to go back up quickly (in a motivational way).
And once you start thinking about all these things and how those platforms are made to be the most addictive they can for you to stay there, because that’s where they make their money (the more users they have, the heavier amount of ads, therefore more revenue).
I have to admit, at first I was scared of getting off of social networks. To have all those memories erased without being able to review them, to lose the ability to reach out to my friends and family, and whatever reason you tell ourselves on the risk of leaving.
1 — Mobile only
First, I started by preventing myself from using them on my laptop. So, no laptop access for me, just mobile. Keep in mind this was my first experience, to see how I’d react and what effects it could have.
Result: Even though I stopped using the desktop version, there were still many times where I (unconsciously) would just stand there sitting down in front of and using my laptop, only to reach out for my phone to go on to checkroll my social networks. It felt weird and stupid to do this, but it kept on for some time.
2 — App notifications
After being tired of that, I went on and disabled the social network apps notifications on my phone. This was meant to tackle to following:
- To prevent the “I have to check this immediately” moments, that kept me from being fully concentrated on the task I was doing
- To allow me to feel in control of when to go there, thus reducing the anxiety levels that come with that
- To try and sometimes forget they exist
Result: I have to admit that I saw some improvements here. My time spent checkrolling was reduced quite considerably. An interesting part of this experience was that it allowed me to see that even though I was still using Instagram and LinkedIn, I spent less time on Facebook.
3 — Instead of all at once, try to remove one
That was when I figured there was no need for Facebook anymore for me. I found Instagram more appealing, probably due to being a more visual platform and having not so many annoying (to me) posts either for the lack of proper writing, the lack of interest in its content, or the amount of URGENT NEWS being spread as no more than just poor and sad clickbait for news agencies and pseudo-journals.
And so I removed (no account deleted) Facebook from my phone and kept Instagram and LinkedIn.
Result: I’m not sure if it was related to a given moment in my life where I felt I had fewer goals to achieve in a short period of time, thus resulting in spending more time on Instagram. Not cool.
4 — The breaking point
After several days laying down on my bed and thinking to myself “why didn’t I start that mobile app project I wanted to do?”, I came to realize that there’s no better now than right now.
So, quite abruptly, I removed Instagram from my phone, leaving messages unanswered (until this day), leaving the meme pages I was following and that provided me with enjoyable moments and stopped knowing what my friends and acquaintances were doing.
Result: Now this was really a breaking point. Gradually, I started feeling better, not knowing why in reality, because to use it was a personal option and not an obligation. Yet, it did felt good.
5 — The final moment
Some of you might be wondering why I’ve included LinkedIn on this list since this is a professional (social) network. But, as with the other two, this is also meant to be addictive, with all those new topics on the Notifications tab, where most of them are irrelevant and not work-related (birthdays, premium discounts, etc).
And as funny as it sounds (trust me, my wife made fun of me quite some times on this), I started using LinkedIn checkroll, like it was Facebook, with the exception that I shared the release of my mobile app project there and received some messages from recruiters.
The fear here was to lose access to potential opportunities if I were ever to want one in future. Having figuring out that I’m not looking for a new job and that any important action is sent to my email, I ended up also removing LinkedIn’s app from my mobile phone.
I’d like to share a quote I made for this section:
The outcome is nothing more than the potential of my own mind applied to the tasks I crave to perform
Here’s a list of some of the things I noticed I started doing / improved:
- As of now, this is my second story written here on Medium and I’m planning on writing at least one every two weeks (as long as I have anything potentially interesting to share).
- I’ve continued where I left off on my mobile app (the iphone part) and I count on completing that until this year’s end.
- I’ve had more free time to listen to investors on investing/saving strategies.
- I’ve been having more time to read actual news, from different geostrategic points of views (I’ll write one on that later).
- My one task concentration levels have risen considerably.
- And, most importantly, I’ve been more present when with my family and friends and less zombie time.
Interesting note: Some of you might be wondering why I havent deleted the accounts completely. This has two different reasons:
- Facebook/Instagram: There are some sign-ins I made using these platforms that I would like to keep, and since the urge is controlled, I can live on with them being there on hold. This also allows me to access links shared from content only accessable through registration, closing it afterwards.
- LinkedIn: It will keep on being in my best interest to have an account there, either to share content that might be interesting to other peers, or to engage in future potential work/investment opportunities.
That’s it from me guys, from my own experience and steps I took to get pass those routines I considered detrimental to my life.
Still, I would like to stress again that this is just a personal opinion and I have absolutely no issue with other points of view. A proof of that is that my wife is a passive-active user of those social networks and we managed to find a common ground that works best for both of us.