How to Quit Social Media
Social media is a two-sided coin. On the bright side, it allows us to share insights with one another, keep in touch with those we care about and stay up to date with local news… at the same time, it also makes us more inclined to compare ourselves to others, steals considerable time away from our day, and reduces our attention span.
If you’re reading this now, that means you’ve probably experienced the negative aspects of social media in your own personal life. Maybe you’ve felt your ability to concentrate go down the drain (and you really need to improve it, because you’ve got a big exam coming up). Or maybe you’re sick and tired of constantly comparing yourself to others on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and other platforms. It’s also possible that you just want more free time to pick up a new hobby, like learning an instrument or reading.
All of these are good reasons to start quitting social media. But studies show that because social media creates the same addictive neural pathways as substances like nicotine, it’s a hard habit to just “up and quit.” That’s why you might want to start by taking a break from social media before fully quitting (that way, you’ll ease your way into deleting your apps, instead of going cold turkey).
Here's how to take a break from social media — and then how to quit once you’re ready.
Taking a break from social media
1. Set time limits
The first thing you’ll want to do when lessening your social media use is to set time limits on your phone. Most phones have app-use timers that will notify you when you’ve reached your daily limit on an app. While these notifications are easy to dismiss, they’re sometimes a powerful reality check that can help you put your phone down after a day of heavy scrolling.
2. Make social media harder to access
Once you’ve set time limits on your phone, the next step involves making social media a little more difficult to use. When your apps are right there on your home screen for easy use, it’s simple to just pick up your phone and open them right away. Instead of this, try moving your apps to a secondary screen on your phone, and place them in a folder that requires a password to open. By making it more difficult to get on your accounts, you’ll have to make a more deliberate choice to use them — instead of just scrolling because you have a little downtime.
3. Turn off notifications
Another great way to make social media less present in your life is by turning off all notifications from apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and more. Notifications pull us into our phones more than anything else — the moment we see someone’s reacted to our latest post, we want to go and check out our apps. Don’t let that happen. Turn off those notifications and experience the peace that comes from a phone that’s not constantly blowing up.
4. Temporarily uninstall social media apps
Instead of framing it as “quitting social forever,” it might help you to simply take a break from social media. You can uninstall the apps on your phone without deleting your account, which means it’ll still be there when you get back. Try it for a pre-determined amount of time (maybe a week, or two weeks) and see what happens. For an additional reward, try turning on your screen time reports and watch how much less time you’ll be spending(!) on your phone during that two week period. It might inspire you to stay off the apps even longer!
5. Start another hobby
When people quit smoking, they usually pick up another hobby. They chew gum or buy mints. When you’re on a break from social media, the withdrawal is inevitably going to make you a little cranky. A nice substitute for social that’s a much slower, more thoughtful medium is journaling. With journaling, you still get to express yourself in ways that matter while also having peace and quiet in your life. If you’re missing the connective element of social, you might even try journaling with a friend or even a coach — someone who can interact with your writing and respond.
Quitting social media
1. Make a final post
Once you’ve decided to really give up social media for good, it’s time to do a little housekeeping. For some people, that means making a last post to inform friends and family that you’re not going to be available on social anymore. You can thank people for their time, and it’s common courtesy to tell those you care about that you’ll still be in touch through other means.
2. Download any info you want to save
Before you completely wipe your accounts, you’ll want to download any important photos and contact information that you want to save. Doing this might feel like a chore initially, but you’ll probably appreciate it in the long run — some of those pictures are likely timeless!
3. Treat yourself
Let’s face it. What you’re doing might sound simple, but it’s actually really hard. Everyone and their mother is on social media, which means giving it up is going to make you feel a little disconnected and separate from the rest of the world. The rewards are absolutely worth it, but it’s still a difficult thing to do. In honor of giving up your social media, you deserve to treat yourself to your favorite meal, movie, mini-vacation or other reward. Go out and get that ice cream you’ve been craving, or take yourself on a little shopping spree to celebrate your new outlook on life.
4. Quit with a friend
Having someone along for the journey can make the process of quitting social so much easier. If you have a friend who’s also been considering deleting their apps, ask them to join you. The two of you will be able to talk about the highs and lows of staying off social together — and you’ll have someone to relate to when you’re out and about, too!
5. Find a new passion to combat withdrawal
Stopping your social media use is going to leave you with a lot of free time. What are you going to fill it with? Maybe you already know. Some great new hobbies to pick up include cooking, reading, playing music, writing, journaling, playing a sport, hiking, climbing, adopting a pet, starting a garden or even traveling. Find the passion that really speaks to you and pursue it like there’s nobody watching.
Because guess what? The only person who needs to witness you succeeding at something new isn’t on social media anymore — that person is you.
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