How To Get Off Social Media? The Best Ways to Independence
By Sidekick Team
Art gallery scene. Kids are laughing next to a painting of an aristocratic dinner party. “Rich people have invited an Insta food blogger to highlight the party!”
It truly hits the spot for me.
Could it all become slow and pensive? Like a painting of fine-dining in the 18th century. And, please, do something with the explosiveness of viral news. People shouldn’t carry a personal information agency tied to their wrist – it sounds insane, right? Oh, wait.
Member berries aside, we’ve been now soundly married to our online profiles for more than a decade. So, we knew consequences were on the way. We enjoyed the people’s availability, and now we want it gone.
In this article we’ll settle on the middle ground and provide you with both empathy and rational ideas on how to quit social media.
Do we need to get rid of social media?
It’s the beginning of 2023. The number of social media users globally grew from 4.2 billion in January 2021 to 4.7 billion in October 2022. This accounts for a 10.1% growth YOY of global usage. In average each of us spends 2,5 hours of personal time daily scrolling feeds.
The number of platforms users in the United States has seen a 12.8% increase during the pandemic. On a practical side: without networks during global isolation, we could get into even worse mental state than therapists reported in 2021. Social networks helped to share and validate the tough experiences people went through during pandemic.
But the very quality of interaction has changed. Recently I found myself craving for dense and involved talks – an oral practice many of us lost to joyously tapping on the feed.
It comes as no surprise, that social media’s urge for the furiously appealing content shifts the focus of life. Can you connect to this situation: social spaces are filled with people that don’t choose to converse with you, and equally you don’t feel like updating them in person? This fake sense of online awareness really alarmed me. Let’s see if there’s more to it.
How to quit social media and reduce FOMO?
Intense presence in social media is tightly connected with FOMO – the fear of missing out. FOMO appeals to our social instinct, our drive to share experiences with people we refer to as important. Falling out of the social agenda, seeing others having fun, enjoying life and achieving success can make people feel inadequate.
Social media users can feel pressure to constantly be connected and engaged in order to not miss out on events. Otherwise, a brain, possessed by FOMO, offers inadequate ideas on why their owner was not invited to the party and measures personal success to that of others. This is very true for the young adults who get the feeling in 69% of cases by statistics of 2022.
Neurosience behind social media addiction
In Social Dilemma, a movie released by Netflix in 2020, speakers from every tech hub of the modern Internet indicate the damaging effects of social networks overuse. The creators of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube spoke of their own inability to resist the dopamine loop, they have effectively practiced on.
Recently, neuroscience has begun to uncover the biological basis for social media addiction. Studies have found, that certain brain regions, such as the nucleus accumbens, are notably involved in the reward pathways connected with social media use. The same area of the brain is involved in substance use disorder, so the viewed effect of social networks on dopamine outbursts is similar to drugs and alcohol.
Research by Dr. Eva Telzer, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina, has also found, that social media use can lead to changes in the brain’s reward system, as well as changes in neural pathways that are included in decision-making and self-control processes. These changes in the brain may lead to compulsive social media use and difficulty in behavior control.
Social media addiction may be linked to mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Studies have found that those with social media addiction are more likely to have negative emotions and higher levels of stress, and these negative emotions may lead to further social media use in an attempt to escape.
Signs that you need to get rid of social media
Social media may actually impact your productivity and energy levels. When you spend a lot of time scrolling, you may have the symptoms, that mean you need to get off the social media sharing-and-caring cycle:
- Feeling anxious when not using social media
- Feeling isolated or lonely when getting off social media
- Less willing to try activities outside of social media
- Feeling agitated or irritable when not able to use social media
- Spending more time than intended on social media
- Neglecting obligations or responsibilities due to excessive social media use
- Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of time spent online
- Becoming easily distracted when using social media
- Mood changes associated with social media use
- Becoming defensive when confronted about using digital devices
Each of these symptoms attributes to a decreased life quality. Although it’s not pleasant to hear, it’s truly precious if your good friends and relatives can relate to them and voice their concern. Other people are too busy on their phones to tell you there’s a problem.
According to a survey by Global Web Index, 73% of people who got off social media said that it improved their well-being. Further you’ll find some ideas on how to take regular measures and maintain healthy attitude for social media.
Here’s an emergency plan for you to withdraw from social media right now:
- Turn off notifications! Start by turning off notifications for all your email, social media and other apps. This will help you to avoid any urge to check your phone or computer and will help you to stay focused on the task at hand.
- Set a limit on your screen time. Limit your screen time to a certain amount each day. This will help you to stay away from your devices and focus on other activities.
- Schedule device-free time. Schedule device-free time each day when you don’t use any of your digital devices. This will give you time to focus on yourself and the people around you.
- Go outside. Spend time outdoors in nature. This will help you to reconnect with yourself and the world around you.
- Reconnect with friends and family, especially those, who don’t use digital devices. This will help you to get back in touch with the people who are important to you.
How to quit when your work is based on social media?
For people who work online quitting social media will seem a far-fetched idea. Let’s assume, you still can restructure your online work in a realistic way.
Make a plan. It is very responsible to plan for how you’ll leave social media. Decide which platforms you want to quit, how you’ll manage your accounts, and how you’ll respond to people who might inquire about your absence.
Channel your attention. The best strategy is collect all your open sessions in a single workspace. It will improve the quality of your work and let you get off the social media as soon as you’re done. The browser that collects all apps in one window is called Sidekick. It is built specially for focused online work.
Delete or deactivate accounts, that are not work-related. This will help you avoid any temptation to quickly check your feed, if you spend time working online anyways.
Every minute counts. Even if it is 10 minutes of conscious effort on the first day you try to shift from leisure profile checking, mark that as an accomplishment. It’s important to remember that you’re improving your mental health and well-being in a mature way. Encouragement and patience together with moving on is an important trait of mature behavior.
Stop social media from watering down your life
There are pleasant results, proven by people reports about leaving social networks, that are time-related. This tentative forecast can work if you actively follow the above-provided plan.
In 1 to 24 hours you may experience a sense of disconnection from your social circle and a sense of loneliness. There may be an uncontrollable urge to turn on the apps and check the incoming messages or likes. Hold on and go for a nice walk with your friend. Or start a book you always wanted to read. In 3 days you may feel more space for interesting thoughts and ideas that appear as they are not suppressed by focusing attention on others news. You may start to feel a sense of curiosity and excitement as you explore other activities that you may have been neglecting while spending time on social media. In a week from quitting social media you could feel a sense of freedom and accomplishment, especially if you don’t forget to mark your success in following your detox-program. Many people report feeling more focused, productive, content, and connected to the real world after taking a break from social media. In 2 weeks your life may gradually become calmer and you can practice more control over it. Knowing you have made it to this time is in itself an immense satisfaction. It is great to know that you are more present in your life and the lives of those around.
This is not to say everybody should feel the same way, as everyone’s experience with quitting social media is different. Plus there’s more than social media that affects our life. Quitting social media is meant to be a smooth and healthy practice, but not a tiring competition. Stay connected with your gut feeling and please, don’t hesitate to seek professional help in case you notice quitting social media alone doesn’t improve your state.
Once you have distanced from your prior habits, it’s time to set new rules for the social media consumption. Here are some suggestions on how to safely keep the rabbit hole of social media at a distance.
The steps to organize a healthy usage of social media:
- Set time limits for using social media. It’s important to be intentional when it comes to limiting the amount of time you spend on social media. Set a timer for yourself and stick to it.
- Use your time wisely. Spend the time you do have on social media doing things that will actually benefit you. For example, post meaningful updates, interact with friends and build relationships, and promote yourself or your business.
- Take regular breaks. Regularly disconnecting from social media can help prevent you from becoming too consumed with it. Try taking a few days off a week or month to truly disconnect and focus on other things.
- Delete the apps from your phone. Deleting the apps from your phone and/or tablet will limit your access to social media. This can help you avoid the temptation to immediately check your accounts whenever you pull out your phone. Whether you are a student or a professional, Sidekick offers a healthy browser routine that will help you to separate online work from offline life.
- Find other activities. Find other activities to fill the time you spend on social media. Consider hobbies, spending time with friends, or reading a book. The key is to find something that will keep you engaged and productive.
How to reframe the social media-dominated lifestyle?
Humans desire to share, exchange and commemorate their time goes back to the ancient caves. When social media hasn’t been wired around our daily lives, people were telling stories in much slower ways.
Playing with the storytelling just like we do, in a whimsical manner, those bloggers were boldly picturing their lifestyle and children were laughing at the first galleries.
We are still the spectators in the Plato’s cave. People are cooking dinners, choosing partners, pitching ideas, looking in the mirrors in the changing room. They rightfully want to keep their personal diaries on a modern cave of humanity, lit by blue screens. I guess, we all could use more actual connection, as people from the past did. In this way, quitting social media for a real society is always a good idea!