Had enough of it, have you? The likes, the comments, the weird neurotic impulse to tell everyone your opinion? Perhaps you’re also sick of reading other people’s half-baked thoughts. Or maybe you’re looking back at 2022, regretting all the hours you’ve lost to scrolling through mind-numbingly dumb videos. And since Elon Musk is effectively digging Twitter into an early grave anyway, now could be the time to get rid of social media altogether.
But how? Just leave?! It’s not always that simple. But don’t worry, you don’t have to chuck away your smartphone and live under a rock. There are loads of strategies out there to help us go outside and touch grass, while still existing in the 21st century. We won’t lie, quitting something you use every day will be rough and, just like any other addiction, you will have cravings. But it might well be worth it. Apparently, leaving social media can help us to improve our wellbeing in numerous ways, from sleep quality and anxiety all the way through to self-esteem.
So, if you’re considering a digital detox in the New Year, or sooner, here’s where to start.
Make sure your online mates know how to contact you
If you still want them, which you probably do, right? Well, leaving an app doesn’t mean you need to block them out of your life completely. Tell people you’re going offline and DM a few pals your number, email, fax or whatever you’re planning to use for communication moving forwards, to shift some of those friendships into real life. You’ll need to fill that spare time with something, after all.
Use an app that blocks temptation
In need of some willpower? Download an app that can take the reins from you, for you. SelfControl is a good one for computers. Just type in the sites you want to block and bam! You’re not getting onto them for as long as you set the timer for. There are apps for mobile too, such as Freedom, which works on all devices, and Forest, which lets you plant virtual trees that die if you go on social media. Who wants that on their conscience?
Don’t want to go teetotal? Disable notifications
Say you need socials for work and can’t really tell your boss that you’re on a digital detox, so no, you will not be working today. Maybe you just want to be more mindful about how you use social media without deleting everything. Just disable your notifications – out of sight out of mind. Alternatively, make an alt account that’s used purely for the essential stuff.
Ask yourself, why?
Get deep. You know you want to quit, but have a proper think about why social media is bad for you and write it down. Then think about what might be good for you instead, as an antidote to your addiction. There’s a goal to work towards. This exercise is super useful for giving us a more tangible reason to quit that we can see on paper. You could even stick it to your computer or put it as the background on your phone.
So you’ve not gone on social media for a whole week. That’s what? Two hours of your life saved? (We’re being generous.) Reward yourself by watching a bit of trash on YouTube or doing whatever else might satisfy the goblin mode impulse that has resisted social media. It’s about making positive moves, not punishing yourself.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Addiction is addiction. If you’re in that space, quitting anything can be incredibly difficult. You will get withdrawal symptoms of sorts and you might well cave. That’s OK. You can always try again.
Read stuff elsewhere
Worried about missing the latest news and trends? Read THE FACE, obviously – and other outlets, if you have to. RSS feeds are also a great way to get a bespoke stream of news sent to your inbox. You could even ask your screen-chained mates to fill you in on what the latest discourse is. You might eventually find you have ROMO (relief of missing out) instead of FOMO. Win-win.