(This post was last updated on: 12/28/20.)
Have you ever thought about taking a break from social media? We just watched the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it! I have been thinking about detoxing from social media for awhile now and this documentary gave me the final push to do it. Here’s why detoxing from social media is good for you and why you should take a break from social media right away.
The Social Dilemma Documentary on Netflix
First, I want to talk about this documentary. It’s a little misleading because it’s not just about social media. It’s really about your internet usage as a whole and how different sites purposely manipulate you into spending more time on their sites, many of which happen to be social media websites. But you may be surprised when you watch this film to hear how sites that you use as search engines are just as bad.
Again, I cannot recommend this film to you enough. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the overall theme of the film is that a group of tech experts are interviewed independently. Each person gives you an insider look at how they themselves developed or ran these sites and their techniques that they created and developed over the years. Some of the folks in the film are from sites we use everyday- Facebook, Twitter, IG, Pinterest, YouTube, Google, Uber, etc. They are highly educated and creative individuals. They are skilled in human psychology which they used when developing the software and programs that culminated in the websites that we all love to use in our everyday lives.
These people set out to purposely design websites that humans would find addictive. The longer you spend on their site, the more money they make on ads. And how do they achieve this? By getting you to the point where you can’t resist to engage. Because the more you engage, the more time you spend on their site and the more they profit.
They developed sneaky ways to get this high level of engagement from all of us. When your phone pings with a notification that someone new just followed you or that someone hit the like button. You gotta look at your phone to see that notification and you automatically feel a rush of excitement. And what about all those times that a site has changed its algorithm? When your numbers go down, you automatically spend more time creating content and engaging with followers to bring your numbers back up. It’s all a game and we aren’t even conscious that we volunteered to play in a game.
Why Taking a Break from Social Media is Good for You
The first reason to take a break from social media right now is for mental health reasons. How many times have you played the comparison game? Someone beautiful posted a picture on IG of their crazy expensive vacation in paradise and you felt jealous that you couldn’t be the person in that picture? The reality, which we know in our heads, is that whoever posted that pic was paid to go on that trip or at the least got the trip for free, they probably could never afford that trip on their own. They used some amazing filter on their pic and probably had a professional photographer take and edit the pic as well. Plus it probably took them hours to get that one shot they posted on IG, out of the hundred they shot that day. I could go on and on. But even knowing how fake pictures are on social media, we still fall prey to this comparison game.
Just the other night I was scrolling through my IG feed before I went to sleep and I came across another blogger that posted a picture of her kitchen renovation and her new kitchen was GORGEOUS. I too am in the process of hiring a contractor to renovate my kitchen and when I got the quote I about had a heart attack. And that was for the most basic kitchen ever known to man. So when I saw her picture on IG, I felt like a piece of crap because I would never be able to afford spending that much on a high end designer kitchen like her.
How did that even happen? I know in my head that my new kitchen will be light years ahead of my current kitchen and beautiful and I am gonna love it, so why am I comparing myself to some stranger on IG? These sites are literally designed to make us feel inferior. And it worked! Normally I would just keep scrolling, internally feeling bad about myself, but that night, I realized my feelings and shut my phone off. As soon as I realized how completely idiotic I was being, I decided this has got to stop, I need to make a change.
The rates of depression have spiked especially among young impressionable girls. And why wouldn’t it? They post a selfie and someone leaves a negative comment about the way they look, or they didn’t get anyone to hit the like button, so now they feel bad about themselves. Especially when their BFF got 100 likes on their selfie. Again, the comparison game hard at work. Along with depression, the suicide rate has also increased. As well as anxiety, self harming behaviors, hospitalizations, eating disorders, etc. Seriously you guys, our time would be better spent talking with a therapist then scrolling through these sites.
Another reason to put down your phone and detox from social media is the time wasted on these sites. Have you ever checked your phone for the time record of how long you spend online? It’s alarming the amount of time we spend on these websites. Do you even realize how much you could accomplish in life with that time? All of those projects, items on your to-do list and things you have been putting off. You could literally do those things!
SECURITY. This is a big reason to get off some of these sites. The amount of data that is gathered on us just by visiting a website is insane. For instance, when you are on FB and an ad pops up for a local store, don’t you wonder why that specific ad popped up? They are tracking what we look at online, what sites we visit, how many clicks we make, where our GPS in our phone has been, our current location, etc. If you don’t mind sites collecting, selling and abusing this information, what about the sickos out there that steal pics off the internet for nefarious reasons? If I had kids, I would have a strong internal debate about posting pics of my kids online.
How to Detox from Social Media
So that leaves the question….What can I do about it? Well, actually there’s a lot you can do about it. It can be as simple as thinking twice about what you post on social media before you hit that post button. You can go the extreme route and deactivate your social media accounts. You could focus on utilizing just one site instead of multiple sites. You can go into your settings and turn off all notifications and turn on all privacy settings.
I have decided to deactivate accounts that I don’t really use anymore, the ones that are just kinda hanging out there. I am also going to limit the amount of time I spend on social media each day to a certain amount of minutes. I am also going to have certain days that I don’t access social media at all. When I was recently on vacation, I didn’t go on any social media for the entire trip. So blocking off a week or a month, if you are super ambitious, would be a great way to detox from social media. Also setting limits in your daily life for you and your family, such as no phones at the dinner table, or no social media before bedtime are alternate ways to get off your phone.
Here are the Benefits of Detoxing from Social Media
- Higher Self Esteem & Positive Self Image
- Lower Rate of Depression and Anxiety
- More Time to Accomplish Goals and Complete Tasks
- Spending Quality Time with Friends and Family
- Decreasing the Likelihood of Being Manipulated by Marketing & Websites
- Possibility of Reconnecting with People
- Gain a Better Appreciation of Life’s Special Moments
- Stop Worrying About Past Relationships
- Won’t Have Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
- Possible Improved Sleeping Habits
- Ability to Live in the Moment
So with all this said, are you ready to give yourself a social media detox? Let me know in a comment below. What do you think about social media? Has any of this resonated with you on a personal level?