Quitting social media: A 1-month update

Quitting social media. What happened afterwards?

It’s been roughly a month since my proclaimed social media detox. I figured maybe an update is in order.

Quick recap: Back in January, I wrote this post. In it, I explained why I made the decision to drastically cut back on my use of social media, and how I was planning on doing it. 

I wasn’t quitting on impulse. The thought had percolated in my mind for months, and my interest in social media had steadily declined since October. Before the Christmas holidays, I posted my last picture on Instagram, urging people to put down their screens, stay present and enjoy spending time with their loved ones.

I followed my own advice, and then I simply didn’t want to go back. It felt way too good to just relieve myself of the pressure of having to constantly check and update my channels. To no longer have to find stuff to photograph, come up with snappy captions, stay up to date with everyone else’s feeds and be active in the exchange of shallow likes and comments.

In hindsight, not only has minimizing social media use made me more present, focused, productive, happy, peaceful and creative. I’ve found that the benefits I thought I gained from social media, and my fears around leaving it, were mere illusions. 

Despite my inactivity, my blog has kept growing. I still talk to family and friends daily. I stay up to date with news and events. I haven’t missed anything important. 

Instead, I have gotten an insane amount of (meaningful) work done. My days are calmer. I spend my weekends reading books and working on my creative projects. I feel better about myself and the progress I’m making. I think deeper thoughts and have more creative ideas. 

Was it hard to quit social media?

Some people have asked me if it was hard to break the habit

To my surprise, no. I just felt a huge relief. And excitement over all the extra time I would gain. ;) 

One time I did re-download the apps out of boredom, to have something to do in front of the TV at night. (I didn’t have a knitting project at the time…)

But I quickly deleted them again. Because every time I give in to curiosity and do a quick check of Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest, all I ever get is tired. And irritated. 

Tired of the overwhelming stream of crap and mediocre content that I can’t possibly keep up with. 

Irritated of the way these companies develop and manage their products. Interfaces are becoming more and more messy and distracting. Feeds are overflowing with ads. Interactions are becoming more shallow, with bots, spam accounts and fake users liking my content and posting meaningless comments on it. 

Facebook Messenger has jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon and is littering the app with silly buttons and features. 

Pinterest is suddenly putting big, blinking circles on every image in my feed, driving me crazy.

It’s become more and more obvious to me what the main purpose of these apps are - to rob me of my time and attention. And to make a profit on it.

Do I miss social media?

So do I miss social media? Hell no.

Was it hard to quit? Nope. 

Has it hurt my business? Not to any apparent degree.

Do I still have friends? Last time I checked, yes.

All the possible reasons I might have for using social media - getting my words and ideas out there, building my online business, connecting with people, staying in touch with friends - I can do this without social media. 

I share my words and ideas in my blog, and sometimes in other people’s blogs. If I do my job well enough, my content will be spread, with or without my effort.

I build my business through my blog and email club - platforms I have complete control over.

And I connect with new people and stay in touch with loved ones via phone, text messages and email. A lot more effective than liking their Facebook updates or Instagram posts.

This Monday, I took the next steps in my social media detox journey. I deactivated and deleted my Twitter and Instagram accounts. I’ll admit, it felt surprisingly scary. I hadn’t used Twitter for years, and I certainly didn’t miss checking Instagram every day (or, ahem, hour). 

Still, it felt like such a final decision. I had all these “what if’s” in my head. What if I’ll change my mind? What if I want to check something in my archives? What if I lose touch with people?

But I did it anyways. I deactivated and deleted my accounts, and afterwards, I felt that same huge relief. Two less sites I need to check every day and risk being sucked into. Minimalism sure does feel great. =)

The "quitting social media trend"

In closing, I love the fact that quitting social media is really trending right now. Just over the last couple of months, the number of articles I see online is sky-rocketing. 

Here’s some of the best stuff I’ve read lately: 

A recent survey out of the UK has revealed that quitting social media is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions this year, with 10 per cent of the participants hoping to make the jump. Deleting social media ended up being a more popular resolution than quitting smoking
— Harper's Bazaar
Twitter, for the past five years, has been a machine where I put in unpaid work and tension headaches come out. I write jokes there for free. I post political commentary for free. I answer questions for free. I teach feminism 101 for free. Off Twitter, these are all things by which I make my living – in fact, they comprise the totality of my income. But on Twitter, I do them pro bono
— Lindy West, in The Guardian
I LOVE not being tied to my phone. I love being present in the company of the people I’m around. It’s like for the first time in a long time I live my life with my head up and my eyes wide open.
— Sali Sasi, in Harper's Bazaar
Social media makes us think we are just having conversations with friends but the amount of time we spend oogling wealthy, beautiful and seemingly perfect strangers on Instagram and comparing our lives and appearances with theirs only fuels existing insecurities.
— The Independent
I was beginning to notice how much manufacturing goes on for social media. I mean we’ve all done it to some degree, added a filter, shared only the good points, hidden the bad stuff. But I was beginning to realise how damaging this is.
We’re all trying to make it look like we have this adult thing down pat and we’re beautiful and successful with no visible pores. It’s not real. And it’s exhausting to keep up with.
— Nikki Stamp, in Huffington Post
Social media accounts do not even belong to you in the first place. They belong to the company which owns the platform. At any moment it could shut down, ban you or start charging enormous account fees. If you use a free service, you are the product.
— Rosie Leizrowice, in Huffington Post