“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.” -Christian Lous Lange
Do you feel the desperate need to be online all the time? Do you constantly stress about whether you’re racking up enough likes, comments, and re-tweets? Are you losing hours of sleep by lying in bed while scrolling through your timeline? If you are nodding your head in agreement, it’s time to take a social media breather.
Think about it. We wake up and the first thing we do before even getting out of bed is to whip out our phone and check our social media accounts. We watch multiple videos on Instagram, witness a handful of heated political posts on Facebook, and repurpose a bunch of funny contents on Twitter by the time we arrive at the office. It’s hard to keep our hand off of our phone even at work. The first thought we get when we see a delicious meal or our dream vacation place is— “I need to share this on social.” Moreover, we don’t forget to post our coffee art on Instagram and record a Snapchat Story while commuting back home and we still keep on scrolling our social media posts even before going to bed.
Let’s admit it: We have sucked into the social media vortex. With the world’s internet users crossing the four billion mark, we are becoming digital addicts. We are turning into junkies who salivate whenever we hear the sound of a new notification. Every new status update is like snorting crack cocaine and we just can’t get enough of the social media stuff. Social media was introduced to make our lives better. But is it really improving our lives or have we turned into slaves of our own creation?
How Social Media Is Pulling Our Strings
You may argue that so what if I’m addicted to social media. It isn’t harming anyone and I’m still doing great at work. It’s not like cocaine or heroin which can cause death. And that’s true but what about the quality of your life? Have you ever thought when was the last time you sat on your porch and enjoyed the view outside while drinking morning coffee? Do you remember the last time when you smiled at a stranger sitting next to you in bus while commuting back home? With our constant, screaming need for getting attention online, we hardly remember what it’s like to exist in the real world around us.
When Facebook arrived, we signed upbecause this is what everyone else was doing. Slowly it became a platform to reconnect with friends and family. While we were getting the hang of Facebook, Twitter made its debut and we started tweeting our thoughts and views. But then Instagram seemingly popped up overnight and we became obsessed with how many likes our Insta post can achieve. Fast forward a few years, and we suddenly have apps for a lot more social media platforms and we are hooked to the virtual life in a way that our life turned into an anecdote for these social media platforms.
Social media addiction is harming us in ways we can’t quite see on the surface. Whether we are strolling down the street or commuting to work, grabbing lunch at a restaurant or attending a social gathering, no matter where we go, we can see people with their noses buried in cell phones. In fact, According to The Telegraph, an average person spends at least 1 hour and 40 minutes every day looking at their favourite social media sites. Many of us spend more time online while outstripping the amount of time spent on sleeping or doing other vital tasks, which is probably the surest sign that we all need to take a step back.
How to Resist the Urge to Scroll
Whenever we take a break from our busy schedule, we pick up our phone and scroll. We keep on scrolling until we go down the social media rabbit hole. This happens to pretty much everyone. Sure, social media is a great tool for connecting with friends and growing a business, but it also has its dark sides.
If you feel like the social media apps on your smartphone are starting to rule your life, it’s time to take a break. However, Detoxing is not easy. Just like tobacco, caffeine, unhealthy foods, or other vices, giving up social media is a tough row to hoe. However, despite the difficulty to quit, it is completely possible to curb and control social media usage by taking some crucial steps.
The first thing to do is to remove your notification alerts to reduce the urge to check your feeds. Once you turn it off, you don’t have something screaming ‘Look at me!’ Another thing to keep in mind is: keep your phone away from your bed or switch it off. This will help you refrain from using social media when you first wake up. And if it is really ruining your life, you should shut down your social media accounts for a while or uninstall all social media apps that play such a crucial role in social media addiction.
It can be quiet difficult to stay away from the social world, it may make you feel lonely in the beginning. But substituting the virtual interactions with in-person encounters can stave off the loneliness. Communicate with the real world and you can even replace social media with another activity. How about spending your valuable time on something else, like a creative hobby, hiking a trail, gardening or reading a book? Prioritizing your hobbies, passion and other activities will not only help you to curb the social media craving but also enhance your creativity.
Lastly, don’t forget to reward yourself when you cross the two-week mark. Buy something nice for you or treat yourself a delicious meal (don’t Instagram it). And as a final reminder: while on a social media break, don’t worry about missing anything. All the inspiration and connections you look for in social media is around you. You simply need to get out of the digital world and look around.
Benefits of a Social Media Detox
Social media detoxification can have many positive benefits on your overall mood and life perspective.
With no Twitter or Instagram feed to scroll through, you’ll not only save so much time for other activities, but it will also help you to create a healthy balance between your work and your private life. Do you often feel you don’t have enough time to exercise, read or clean your house? Putting social media on pause can give you almost 2 free hours daily which can be utilized to do the things you always wanted to do and improve your life.
Even if you aren’t aware of it, we end up comparing ourselves to the lives of others while scrolling through their posts. Whether it’s the photo of your friend enjoying his dream vacation or more likes on their Insta posts, it somewhere makes you envious and anxious. By stepping away from social media for a while, you will not get distracted by someone else’s life. In fact you will start to focus on yours.
Improved Mood and Positivity
Studies have discovered that the less time you spend on the social sites, the happier you become. So, if you’ve been feeling highly anxious, stressed out or depressed, it is the right time to take a social media detox.
Reconnecting with the Real World
Do you still remember how to say ‘hi’ to the stranger or invite a friend for a coffee without checking your phone? The technology has created an invisible barrier between us and we like to spend a lot of time in social media sites instead of connecting in person. Life is all about experience. But we are so busy in constantly updating our news feed that we have stopped living in the moment. We miss out the key moment in our life simply because we try to capture them for other people to see. Giving up social media for a while and interacting with other people can boost your mood and help you enjoy the journey of life to the fullest.
Social media should be a way to shake off the day just like a refreshing drink. However, we live on and through our screens, always plugged in, distracted and stimulated. But it’s time to make a change and start backpedalling to live a good and meaningful life.
It’s easy to get tempted to hop back online, or feeling distracted or unfocused during your “no social media” time. But with a strong determination and by taking small steps, you will be able to conquer the addiction. You can do a detox for one day, one month or one year. At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether you want to continue living a virtual life or want to live a real one. Stop worrying about the number of likes and followers. The moment you stop viewing your life through the lens of social media, it will make you feel more alive. Remember that you are far more than just a social media page.