What I learned from a four-week social media detox
We are drowning in pictures, information, and experiences. Instagram caught our attention and once we scrolled through all of the posts we feel bad because the life of other people seem much more exciting than ours. And even if we have amazing experiences we often do not enjoy the moment. Our smartphone is always in our pockets, ready to post a quick update on social media. The dopamine hit from receiving likes keeps us in the loop for more.
In the last weeks, however, I felt the urge to live more intentionally instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media or distract myself with YouTube videos. After reading the book “Deep Work” by Cal Newport, I decided to delete all my social media apps from my smartphone and went cold turkey on social media for 4 weeks. Here’s what I learned.
Resist the FOMO (fear of missing out)
“Have you seen this on Instagram?” No, I haven’t. I quickly recognized how much of our lives nowadays is online. You don’t know that someone is travelling unless you have Instagram and follow this person. In the second week, I feel like I am missing out on something; FOMO (fear of missing out) is hitting hard. I am close to downloading Instagram and looking at all the new pictures, but I resist. After a few hours of bad mood I went on with my life and did not feel as I had missed something special there.
Don’t substitute bad habits with another bad habit
As weeks pass by, I recognize a pattern in my behavior. Although I had plenty of time which I did not waste on social media, I did not use ALL of the free time productively. While some of the time I used to create my first bullet journal, creating my personal website, and spending more time with friends, I also spent more time on YouTube, watching random videos, than I did before.
Using all of the time for essential things will take time. And if you don’t have something productive to spend your time on, your brain will find a substitute for the social media “drug”.
“You can’t fully delete bad habits as they are hardwired in your brain, you can only exchange them with good habits.” James Clear (Author of Atomic Habits)
Delete all social media apps from your phone
The problem is not social media in itself, it is that we are using it incorrectly. How often are you scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube because you are bored or waiting for a friend? We all know we could do something more prodcutive in this time but it is just too easy to pick up your phone and open the app. What helped me most is to just delete all distracting apps from your smartphone, so it is a pain to download them again and type in your login details.
Filter your online contacts
Research shows that a human being can’t have close contact to more or less than 150 people in their lives. I am not saying you should reduce your following list to this number. But take a few minutes and scroll through your contacts and think about which are essential to your life and which are people you did not have contact in years and you are not eager to change that. I did that myself and it was staggering how much I could reduce my follwing list within half an hour.
Benefits you can expect
> More time for people you actually care about
> Less distractions and more focus to do essential work
> You will find what is essential to you and learn to spend your time wisely
In the end, I can only recommend you to do a fast on social media. Although it is not a magic pill, you will get more things done and maybe even find a new passion for yourself. My solution for the future is to go on social media intentionally not habitually, and deleting mobile social apps after using them.