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How often do you find yourself checking on your social media notifications soon after waking up or while out with friends and family? Do you spend much of your vacation trying to take the perfect photo for your Instagram, or are you more concerned about going on a vacation just so you can post pictures and keep with the rest? These are signs that social media has a significant influence on you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of missing out, it’s definitely time for a social media detox. Continue reading this article for all you need to know about social media detox.
What Is Social Media Detox?
A social media detox is a conscious exclusion of the use of social media for some amount of time which could range from days to weeks or even months. Many people do a 30-day detox to free themselves from it, while some do frequent 7-day detoxes while others might go away from it for more than a year or so.
The idea behind a detox is similar to all other detoxes where people stay away from social media by either deleting the apps from the phone or disabling their social media account for a while. Many get to this point when they start feeling that social media has taken over their life and their mind is too preoccupied with it. Frequently checking for updates and reaching for the phone in the middle of family time or when spending time with friends is a sign that it is time to take a break.
Why You Should Take a Social Media Detox
Here are the benefits of taking a social media detox:
- Social media is addictive and works on the neurocircuitry that is responsible for reward-seeking behavior. Combined that with the drive for instant gratification and you have the perfect addictive thing that keeps you hooked on forever. What is also part of it is something called ‘social media creep’. Like many addictive things, it would have taken hold of you long before you realize it.
- Social media is mostly a falsely constructed reality. Things that people post regularly to it are stuff they selectively want others t see. Therefore, they only show the few good and fun moments of their lives while hiding a mountain of monotony underneath. Most people’s profile on social media is a carefully curated perception of who they are may not be anything that is real in their lives. When we see these posts everything, we tend to think that they are having more fun and our lives are relatively boring.
- When you follow people with certain political inclinations or interact with only one kind of post, the social media algorithms tend to suggest you similar posts to engage with. It effectively pushes you into an echo chamber that can seriously skew your worldview. This means you only engage with opinions similar to yours and seldom or never hear the other side.
- Social media encourages you to post more about yourself, and as you grow more accustomed to having personal details about you online, you give more than you should. Eventually, it is a security risk where hackers can find your personal details to use against you or stalkers use it to cause harm.
- It is mostly a waste of time on social media when you indulge in reacting to useless posts or having arguments with strangers. Checking your social media accounts often leads to a drop in productivity at work and wastes precious time. It also takes away time you could use constructively in pursuing a hobby.
- Social media encourages narcissism by making it seem that the world revolves around you. The more pictures you post and the more likes you get, the more self-centered your world becomes. It can go to the point where you fall in love with yourself and lose perspective on life.
- Social media detox clears out your mind and helps you see the world without the filters, without the curated versions of people’s lives and the calm that actually exists outside the information storm. Constant engagement with stories and posts by influencers gives anxiety and FOMO (fear of missing out).
- Social media is designed to keep you coming back for the little dopamine hits that your brain gets every time you hit the refresh button. Without realizing it, you would end up spending hours every day as long as the notifications keep popping up. You are also addicted to the ads and stories that appear in the feed. These are designed to ensure you stay for as long as possible.
How to Take a Social Media Detox
Here are some practical steps to start your social media detox:
1. Turn off notifications
It’s not easy for everyone to throw away their social media accounts in an instant. To lessen the withdrawals start from basics such as turning off the notifications. The constant ping on your phone or smartwatch is exactly the sound you would be craving when you are hooked on social media. Adjust the settings to turn off notifications of all your social media platforms. If your work requires you to stay on social media, set the notifications to be sent to your email rather than your phone. You can sort your mail to filter out only those notifications related to work or those that are important.
2. Track your time spent on social media
If you are trying to reason your way out of the detox by thinking a few minutes a day won’t hurt, track the total spend on social media, the numbers might surprise you. Smartphones have screen time tracking apps that tell you exactly how much time you spend on your phone and what applications. Do not be surprised if the total time spent on all your different social media combines comes up to an hour or a few. This is the case with most people who start detoxing.
3. Move your apps to a hidden folder
If you are taking a 7-day social media detox or more, then this trick will come in handy. Move all your social media app launchers to a hidden folder in the phone, or somewhere they are not instantly seen when you open your phone. Delete social media page bookmarks from your browser pages, so you are not triggered to impulsively open it or to do it as a habit when you see the icons. This is enough to give you a moment of thought to rethink your decision to open the apps. This can be used as a way to curb social media indulgences in the future as well.
4. Change the privacy settings
If you haven’t been very particular about it, then your privacy setting is probably set to default on all social media platforms, which can leak more information about you than you would want. Visit your privacy settings to check if you are getting too many reminders, birthday notifications, friend requests from unknown people, targeted ads, or spam. Set most of it to private, so it wouldn’t bother you as much. Do this on all platforms.
5. Quit social media groups
Being in too many social media groups is a constant content source to indulge in on your news feed. You may even find that you are in groups that other people have invited you into, and you don’t even remember joining them. Spend time on useless groups that share forwarded content or political discussions or anything else that doesn’t contribute to your life constructively. Hobby, work, and learning groups are fine as long as you only see selected posts. However, if you are taking the 30-day social media detox, then mute all groups, including the hobby groups, so you can stay away from all temptation completely.
6. Clean up the friend list
If you have too many people in your friend list who generate too much content that borders on spam, then it’s time to mute or unfollow these people. If their relationship is still important to you, then unfollowing works well. If these people are only acquaintances who contribute nothing to your life, then unfriending them is also an option you could consider, especially if their presence on your social media is toxic to you. When creating posts, select only a handful of important people who you know are important. It also reduces notifications in the form of reactions or comments from unnecessary people.
7. Schedule time for social media
If completely getting away from social media is impossible because of work or other important commitments, then schedule time for social media. Scheduling is a good way to make sure you aren’t missing essential things, and you stay on a detox. If it is important to check every day, then schedule social media time during off-hours of work when you are feeling tired or bored after some monotonous work. Since it does have a mood-enhancing effect, it will work well to do it during your lunch break or after office hours. Avoid checking social media before going to bed or soon after waking up. Those are not the times you would want it on your mind!
8. Log out after every session
This might seem trivial, but nothing can be further from the truth! Your social media access works on the simple fact that you are logged in to all of them at all times. So to check any of them is as easy as opening your phone and touching the icon. If you are logged out, then the little moment that you will have to spend entering the password is enough to stop that action and choose to turn around. Logging out also means you do not get any notifications. So cutting down quick access is quite an effective way to keep away.
9. Block social media completely during work hours
Sometimes you’ll find that checking your social media during breaks won’t help. All it takes is a short glimpse, and you’ll have a running thought in the back of your mind as you work. Therefore logging out of social media before you go to work and not checking it until you return home is quite an effective everyday detox strategy to cut down your addiction. If social media is part of your job, try and create a separate work account with no friends or distractions.
10. Limit screens everywhere
How often do you take your phone to the bathroom or the bedroom, or the dinner table? If your answer is all the time, then it’s time to cut it down. Unless you’re reading a book or something important, there’s no reason to take it to these places. You’ll also find that it improves your relationships with your family and friends. Besides, taking your phone to bed is bad as the blue light on the screen interferes with your sleep, and you will wake up the next day not feeling fully rested.
11. Delete apps and completely get off social media
You must have reached a certain level of saturation with social media before you can do this! But if you are still holding on to it, then now’s the time to log out for good. If you have all your important family, friends, and work associates on a simple messaging app, deleting your social media account isn’t such a bad idea. Most social media accounts give you the option of reopening your account, and you can also choose this if you plan to return in a year or two. Once the accounts are shut down, delete all the apps, so you have no way to get back instantly. You will be surprised at how quickly you will forget that you were even on a social media platform indulging in unnecessary content. If anything, it will seem like a dream!
Taking a social media detox will not only improve your productivity at work but also promote life satisfaction and vastly improve your mental health. Follow these 11 steps to slowly detox from social media or even log out for good.