5 Lessons I Learned from Quitting Social Media for a Year
After my social media detox, I have another point of view that I did not have before.
From June 2018 to June 2019, I quit using social media. I completely delete my Twitter and Facebook accounts, delete my Instagram app from my phone, and never looked at any of them. However, I was still checking my emails and looking occasionally at YouTube.
In an article published in 2013, writers stated that the usage of social media sites has increased extensively especially in the last 10 years. I would like to highlight that this article was published in 2013, so social media usage in 2020 must be beyond our imagination.
Of course, this expansion has brought about questions of whether social media sites can be associated in any way to people’s psychological well-being, productivity, or life satisfaction.
Different studies that indicate both positive and negative aspects of social media usage that I will explain later, but first I want to explain why I quit social media for a year. I will list all the factors that led me to this decision genuinely and without any filter.
I was spending the vast majority of my time on social media. Even if I planned to check one post on Instagram, I never look only that photo.
The time that I decided to quit social media was very stressful and intense for me. I think because of my stress, I did not want to be in touch with anybody.
I started to find myself thinking about how unnecessary, selfish, and arrogant some posts are. I was looking at dinner or breakfast photos, and think, who would care what you eat at breakfast. I wanted to highlight, I was depressed at that time, and maybe I saw them negative because of my inner state.
Even though I thought most things in social media is ingenuine, I still felt obligated to like that post. The more I like things that I actually hate, I felt as fake as a person. Then I feel and realize, others might do the same thing to me.
It was very difficult for me to focus on one task at a time because I was checking my accounts in every break, and none of my breaks was less than 20 min due to my way of social media usage.
As you can see, I was done with social media and that decision was my way of giving a break to negative thought and chaos.
After a year of social media detox, my way of looking at social media pretty changed. I realized some of my behaviors were not coming from my heart; instead, I was acting with the group. However, I also start using Instagram and Twitter after a year too.
So, let`s look closer to what did I realize after a year.
1- Social media increases our desire for consumption
After I quit using social media, one of the biggest changes was I could save more money! While using Instagram or Facebook I have never thought of their potential to impact my consumption behavior. Therefore, it took me a couple of months to understand this situation.
As you know, on almost all social media platforms we expose to different advertisements for different products. They could be a post from a company, a story of a makeup product that a famous influencer recommends, or a cafe location that most of your friends went.
Even though we see all those different forms of commercials, we still tend to think that we are not influenced by them. This is not true!
When you see a lipstick recommended by multiple influencers in different times, you want to try it or if you have ten pairs of jeans and liked a jean collection on someone on social media, you think this is the missing part in your closet, but it is not, you already have ten jeans!
These platforms are so successful in an advertisement that we usually do not think why I am buying this lipstick now. It looks like your own free will, and it is at some point, but in reality, our consumption attitude is influenced by social media.
2- Social media does not bring happiness
Numerous studies have been conducted to provide answers to whether social media can be related in any way to people’s well-being. Of course, some studies indicating that the use of social networking sites may facilitate emotional well-being.
However, evidence in support of the opposite direction of the relationship between social media use and depression and anxiety are much more common. One study showed that Facebook use predicts decreases in subjective well-being in young adults. Another study demonstrated a positive correlation between Facebook social comparison, rumination, and depressive symptoms.
Besides those psychology research, I personally felt happier. When you in a negative mood, seeing others’ perfect life is not always making you happier.
Of course, non of us do not want other`s misery, but especially if you are not happy at that moment, seeing others living their best life may lead you to question your own life.
So, even if you are using social media frequently, I would sincerely recommend you to give a break when you are not glad.
3- We can focus more without giving a social media break
Definitely, one of the biggest gains of this year was productivity. Since I did not try to multitasking all the time, I could focus my duties easier which lead me the chance to finish tasks earlier and at better quality. After finishing my responsibilities, I just enjoy spending time for myself.
So, if you are just like me, social media detox would give you a space to focus on your daily life.
4- We are losing our authenticity?
When I using social media every day, I felt obligated to like every photo of people I followed, otherwise, I thought, it would be rude or it might upset them. Therefore, I always tried to check every photo on Instagram and every comment on Twitter. Watching everyone and knowing that you are being watched by others is exhausting.
When you feel like people might judge you based on your clothes, hobbies, or appearance, you want to avoid those judgments. Unfortunately, most of the time the way of escaping from judgments is not showing what you really like, and who you really are.
I think filtering ourselves is really harmful, especially for our self-esteem. When we act in a way that is approved by others but not you, you not only lose your authenticity but also the courage to show your unique way of thinking to others. I have never realized how I was hesitating to wear my teddy bear sweatshirt because of other`s judgments before quitting social media.
After this break, now I feel more independent and brave and do not afraid to say what I like or do not like in public and social media, and I am no longer put a filter to my personality.
5- Social media is beneficial for network
You may wonder if social media was always negative and living without social media made me happier, more focused, and so on, why did I open my accounts back?
Well, I think it is an undeniable fact that social media is a great tool for communication and network.
Since social media is so into our lives, we do not look for jobs in newspapers, instead, we are using LinkedIn, or when we want to travel to a county we are looking for other peoples` comments.
More importantly, we are all social beings, so we want to communicate, share the good news with our friends, tell people a new song that I adore. The new way of doing all those things is by using social media.
After a year break, I am more cautious now about the time that I spend on social media and do not use my phone while working for my productivity. However, I still use social media to communicate with the world.
After my social media detox, I have another point of view that I did not have before, and I am better at minimizing the negative sides thanks to this.
Now, I know, we are influencing each other more than we realize, and we do not have to follow others` rules, we all have the power to give a break to this digital world if we want to.
I am a person who is enthusiastic about psychology, art, and science; and likes to learn something new every day. Let's meet with you https://medium.com/@silacakmak