Over the last decade, it’s no secret that social media has wildly grown and become an essential piece of our daily lives. There are SO many pros to using a social media network, like connecting with friends, co-workers, family, or meeting awesome new friends. We can make connections around the globe and aren’t limited to the people who live in our vicinity. It’s truly a beautiful thing, when used correctly.
For me, Facebook became a site I logged into out of habit and rarely enjoyed my visit. I would endlessly scroll through the timeline and became increasingly annoyed at most of the posts I read. I got to a point where I would log in and think, “Why am I even here?”
Sure, I enjoyed seeing updates from friends and family about their happy lives, but i could no longer tolerate or scroll past the users who would blindly share incorrect information or misleading/fake news stories. I wanted to shake the person posting and scream, “Seriously, it takes 30 seconds to open Google and verify something these days!” I even texted a friend and said those exact words. Their response? They didn’t care or think it was a big deal. I finally reached a breaking point.
I decided to actually do something about it. I couldn’t continue correcting people in the comments (yeah, it’s fine, I was that person…). It was time for me to bid my adieus and bow out gracefully. But that isn’t the answer for everyone!
How do you know a social media detox, whether it’s in the form of deactivation or deletion, is right for you? Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Is this adding joy to my life, or is it simply a way to pass time?
- Would I miss it if I didn’t have it?
- Am I wasting too much time endlessly scrolling through a news feed, only to find myself annoyed or angry at the content I view?
That third question was a big YES for me and that’s how I knew it was time to detox. I ended up deleting my Facebook account in May after having it for 12 years. TWELVE YEARS! I mean, the archive this website had on me was insane (which, to be honest, was a great reason to delete it). I was worried I would have a serious case of FOMO, but I don’t. Sure, I miss connecting with friends and family but deleting has (happily) forced me to make phone calls and send texts/emails to the people I love.
I still have Twitter and Instagram, but I’ve changed my habits on both of those platforms after this detox. I took a small break from posting anything on those networks and even deleted the apps off my iPhone for a couple of weeks. I missed those much more than Facebook, though. It didn’t take long to reinstall those and I didn’t have a sense of dread when I did. I kind of had the “first day of school” feeling — you know, when you’re excited to get back to see all your friends and hear about what they did during the break!
When I decided to end my detox with Twitter and Instagram, the first two questions I mentioned before were now easily answered: yes, these do bring joy to my life (but also to pass time when I am waiting for someone or something), and yes, I did miss it when I didn’t have it. That’s how I knew I took enough time away.
Deleting Facebook was a bigger decision, given I was connected with family and friends. That, and I used Facebook for professional purposes. I help moderate several pages and groups on different networks for the podcasts on which I work, and I simply can’t abandon them. I found a way to work around this and still have a successful detox and/or removal of my main account, but it does require some effort.
- Make a new “burner” account. Create a new, separate profile without any friends or personal details (or what you consider to be the bare minimum of information for your profession).
- Log back into your original account and make that new burner account an admin/editor of all the pages you run. If you work for a company, make sure you clear this with your boss first!
- Log into the new profile and test! Double-check your permissions are correct and that you have access to everything you need.
- Wait a couple of weeks. Make sure you have everything you need from your original account before pulling the plug. Or, just rip off the bandaid – honestly, what’s the worst that can happen?
- Click that delete button! It’ll feel so good, I promise.
Would I detox again? Absolutely. I think it’s healthy to take a break from everything in life every now and again – it’s just like taking a vacation from work. Sometimes you just need to unplug!