Are you getting frustrated or fatigued with or because of social media? Wanting to reduce it or kick the habit altogether? You’re not alone. Here I cover what works for me and what other’s have found.
There are quite a few popular social media that can have people hooked. Of these, the leading social media platform is Facebook and you might be interested to know it has about 2.7 billion monthly active users, as at Jan 2021.1 The graph below shows how the others rank in popularity on the world stage.
What gets your goat about social media the most? The trolls, the propaganda, the ads, the political campaigns, divisiveness, personal attacks, mobbing, spying, or other stuff that’s emerged since these platforms first sprung up? (Social Dilemma tells us all of this in showing “the dangerous human impact of social networking” as tech experts explain and sound the alarm).
But even leaving that aside, I find it’s an overall draining experience and a time pit. Social media fatigue –> that’s me. So I’ve set out to rid my life of it, ban it, or at least reduce my use of it.
Why should you care?
It’s worth caring about the time you spend on social media, what it takes you away from, and how it makes you feel. Not to mention the concerns about corporations collecting data from you and manipulating how you see the world in their quest to earn more $$$ and get you to think or act a certain way – that’s how marketing runs.
I tended to use social media when I wanted time out from working, or to ‘fill in’ time when waiting for something to happen or when I was bored. I was about using it as a chill-out numbing mechanism but the danger turned out to be that it left me feeling drained and uninspired and it’s not a great pastime for mental health to be truthful. After feeling blah for too long…
I gave myself a talking too…
Why am I doing this? Is it to stay up-to-date with friends or family or is it for the latest gossip? Does the timeline show posts from friends or is it all this other stuff and ads to wade through? Am I making a difference with the information I post? There’s so much #@$% I’m seeing that my world is being clouded and the platform decides what I get to see and whether my posts even get seen by anyone much. Me also: What a waste of time. Give it up! How can I do this differently?
Social media addiction effects
Social media: there are now 4.20 billion social media users around the world. This figure has grown by 490 million over the past 12 months, delivering year-on-year growth of more than 13 percent. The number of social media users is now equivalent to more than 53 percent of the world’s total population.SIMON KEMP, DIGITAL 2021: GLOBAL OVERVIEW REPORT, 27 JANUARY 2021
The science: Over 3.6 billion people use social media worldwide (2020 figures). If the trend continues, the world will see 4.41 billion users by 2025. An increasing dependency on mobile devices drives this. An average users time on social platforms has increased by half an hour a day since 2015 with the current average time spent on social media amounting to 2 hrs 24 minutes a day (almost 2 ½ hr/day or 38 days out of your year). 1
You’d have to wonder about the personal and societal effects of that trend? And how this digital technology engineered to direct us will trend more in favour of manipulating us away from our true direction.
From where I see it, its a huge waste of time. Imagine what you could do with that 2 ½ hours! And then there’s the impacts on our mental health.
Let’s face it, the major social media are revenue generating platforms. They have morphed from social networking into public companies on the share market with a priority of pleasing shareholders, not you the user! Money driving strategies supersede the social focus. At conception, they may have been about social connection, Facebook particularly, but that has changed.
It seems we accept that. But, there’s something else …
I don’t know about you, but here’s what I’ve noticed of late…ads, ads, and ads, much phoniness, a lot of shaming and gaming, political stuff, adults ridiculing others – not a model to portray to your kids …yeh? Words I hear in grumblings: echo chambers, censorship, banning, suspension, shadowbanning, unhealthy comparisons, and more.
How to reduce social media use
I agree with Cal Newport, author of Study Hacks blog: These [social media platforms] are engineered to be addictive. Using social media is habit forming and breaking habits takes some thought and effort, and perseverance.
Onto how to ditch the bitch social media…
How to break social media addiction
One: treat it like any other addiction. Breaking social media addiction is no different to giving up smoking or any other bad habit. To break its reign, you need to replace it with good habits. But first, ask yourself: why do you use it? Note all the reasons and the associations you have with it, e.g., the time, the place, the activity, etc. Then identify the things you’ll do instead and how you’ll fulfil why you use it in the first place.
I liken this to when I gave up cigarettes. Smoking was my crutch. My times on the phone, having a coffee or drink, a conversation, social events, were all associated with my habit. Some I avoided altogether (e.g. alcohol) until I felt stronger in saying ‘no’ but otherwise I did things to break the habit. I’d go for a walk, take a shower, have a piece of fruit, or distract myself, including using my hands in other ways, so that I developed new positive associations.
Doing things that are more rewarding, healthier, inspiring and that instil a positive connection with people or your inner self is far better.
Here are some options to replace your social media use…
If you crave conversation, join a forum covering a topic that interests you and share ideas in common with members. Get outside into nature. Spend some time on a hobby you enjoy. Do a short course.
Deactivate/delete those powerfully addictive accounts and try alternatives that are less intrusive.
Think about what you did before you got hooked on the social media you’ve been using. Before you got caught up in using Facebook, IG, twitter or any other, how did you get your word out, communicate or get ideas?
Brainstorming thoughts I had regarding things I did in the past: I phoned, met face to face, sent txt messages, subscribed to newsletters, wrote letters, sent cards and gifts, read magazines, wrote notes, gifted flowers…in other words, networked in more tangible ways.
Social media detox apps & activities
Apps can help you with social media detox. I’m trying out 21 Days and liking it.
You get a prompt each day for 21 days to help you detox as part of the challenge.
With each prompt, you scratch the day’s challenge and on achieving it, you earn points. For example, on day 3, it told me “don’t use your phone during meals (because food is soo much better than looking at a screen)”. This is an incentive for me because I know being aware of the food when you’re eating helps with digestion.
The points earned allow you to customize your avatar by adding hair, eyes, mouth, etc., which is kind of fun. I’m using the free version but premium is less than $2/mth.
replace timeline with affirmations
If you really can’t let go, there are apps that replace your social media timeline with affirmations. You could give News Feed Eradicator for Facebook, a Chrome extension a go. (I’d rather give the screen a miss altogether.)
Block the site until…
You can block distracting sites, e.g., social media sites, using the Freedom app, which has a free and a paid version. You can right out block or schedule your time.
Another one is BlockSite, which is a Chrome extension.
I’m using Screen Time, a setting, on iPad to block news and social media sites I want to break up with. I recommend you suss out what your device offers in this way and use it to limit your use of social media.
Todobook is a Chrome extension that transforms the newsfeed of Facebook into a todo list. It blocks notifications. But you do get your feed back…once you’ve completed the todo list.
The creative things I’m do to divert from social media urges: Suduko, reading a book chapter, doing something in the garden, sewing, writing reflections, taking photos for this blog.
Other things I’m doing with that time: Goal setting and short courses.
Benefits of kicking the habit
What can you do with an extra 2 1/2 hours a day that’s productive, creative, innovative, and makes you a better person, or improves your life and those around you? I’m sure you’ll find things that will allow you to…
- Free your mind and spirit
- Take steps to create or achieve the things you desire
- Advance skills and knowledge
- Get a healthier bod
If you put these together, that’s one huge benefit of kicking the habit!
Who’s left Big social media platforms
Wanting some more inspiration? Let’s look at who’s who in the “social media departed”. I’ve listed a few who have left the big guys fully, or partially (some times they return)…
- Leonie Dawson, writer, artist
- Pamela Anderson, celebrity, activist
- Kelly Rae Roberts, artist
- Alexandra Franzen, author
- Kayne West
- Prince Harry & Meghan Markle
- Ed Sheeran, singer
- Daisy Ridley, actor
Quit social media (or reduce it). It can be a powerful tool, but don’t let it make you its tool –> it’s optional. Enrich your mind, don’t fill it with junk. Stop being a slave to these things.
Turn off the news media too –> it depends on sensationalism to get clicks and get you to return for the next drama that’s emerged, true or not. Most of it uses the fear-factor and fear creates limitation and shackles.
Understand the risks/consequences of news and social media addiction. These include the impact on mental health, which is significant with wide research showing how our psychological or behavioural dependence on these platforms can immensely impair our abilities in various domains of our lives, when done over a prolonged period.
Break the spell! Cheers, Mary-Anne