I quit (major) Social Media cold turkey.
I kept LinkedIn because it’s not a huge distractor for me. And if you consider YouTube Social Media, then add that to the keep column too. For me personally, LinkedIn is for work, and YouTube is for learning. If there comes a time when the platforms that I kept around are no longer working for me, they’ll meet an abrupt end as well. But this unraveling thought isn’t about what’s working for me, it’s about the things that aren’t. It’s about the other monsters that had to go.
It’s funny because younger me, even the me who started the month of May 2021 would have been shocked at the idea of ditching major Social Media. I worked so hard to make a name for myself in my career and sharing my community contributions via Twitter was a huge part of my day for many years. It blows my mind to think of the juxtaposition of how much I absolutely loved being active on Twitter a few years ago, and how much I abhor it now. Facebook was extremely important to me as well. It was my personal outlet where I could spam anybody with a profile with photos of my family and horses. Especially the horses. I held back on Instagram and made several attempts at doing it right. I just didn’t understand the pastel/white photo theme, and I think I in general am just uninteresting enough that the efforts flopped. And there I’m left staring at the facts that I’ve been trying to be a marketer (you know, that think about Social that I don’t like) when I’m just not born to do that. And that’s totally ok.
I just had to see it, accept it, and act on it. “It” being the fact that Social Media wasn’t serving a healthy purpose for me anymore.
This might have been a long time coming. I just didn’t see it. Until my 7.5-year-old son very directly told me his frustrations with my time on major Social. Some of his frustration was in the fact that he wanted to mindlessly scroll with me, and I wanted to scroll to loosen my mind and have a break. Little kids ask a lot of questions, so it meant listening to, and answering every single question if I was going to let him participate with me. Or risk disappointing and even rejecting him to spend time scrolling on my own. Social had become a crutch of sorts. You can even track anxiety episodes on my Facebook where more of the real, mentally unstable me, shines through. Then a few major life events hit me. Some I shared, some I internalized. Either way the Social crutch had stopped becoming useful for me and started becoming a point – a trigger – of anxiety. I finally accepted that even though I was taking great steps to improve my mental and emotional health, there was still something lingering that was triggering anxiety, depression, and even insomnia.
So, I quit. Cold turkey.
I’m at a point in life where I want time to slow down. I want to work through feelings and issues quietly and in my own space. Social has turned everybody into a marketer of sorts. Every platform made me feel like (and I’m extremely guilty of doing this as well) my connections were selling something yet the very principle of being connected to them was completely removed. And as much as this pains me and the members of my generation to admit, I think I’d rather talk on the phone with my close friends and family members than post things online. I looked back over recent posts and broke them down into two categories: posts about things that were meaningful to me, and mindless posts. Guess which posts got the most interactions? And I think that was when I realized it was the beginning of the end for me. If I am going to make healthier choices for myself, if I am going to work on becoming a better me (spouse, parent, friend, boss) then the right decision for me currently is to walk away.
I’ve been considering if I would ever create profiles on Social again. Sometimes it’s really tempting, but I don’t want to go through with it until I have a plan for Social that works for me and is healthy for me. I don’t think I’ve stepped away from it long enough to be able to say I’ve taken a break that’s healthy. If we want to put it into new age fitness terms, I’ve done the short duration detox that has stimulated things. I haven’t detoxed on a cellular level yet.
There are quite a few digital friends that I miss, and I want to find ways to stay connected to them so that we can maintain our online friendships. I’m being conscious too, of the idea that not everybody has the same issues or triggers with Social Media like me. I’m sure I know many friends that already have healthy boundaries with Social. They go online to connect and catch up; they can easily walk away when they are done. Phone calls might not fit where they are right now. I do know that true connections can withstand time and distance, at least to some degree. So, while I might miss out on day-to-day digital news, I am confident I can create healthy boundaries for myself so that when I do decide to have an online presence again, I can do it in a way that’s healthy for me rather than triggering.
To sum it up, I quit major Social Media for the following reasons:
It was distracting me in all areas of life, and I had a hard time creating healthy boundaries.
It was causing emotional triggers and impacting my mental health.
It was no longer serving a valuable purpose to me for maintaining connections.
It’s hard to say what is the right answer for everyone. Your decision to stay on Social Media is very personal and is a decision that is best for you to make on your own. I will say that if you feel triggered, distracted, or unhealthy, that it’s perfectly ok to at least take a break. Major Social Media platforms have very good mechanisms to help you take a break from disabling notifications and email alerts to putting your profile in “on a break mode”. You don’t have to go to the extreme of deleting your profile, and you even have a 30-day diffuse button if you want to stop the permanent deletion before it’s too late. No matter what you decide, can we at least agree on two things? Don’t post that you’re leaving as a way of fishing for compliments/interactions to feed your need for attention to stay, and don’t be upset with those who decide to stay when you want to leave and vice versa.