A year ago, I decided to make a concious effort to spend less time on social media. Why did I do this? Did my plan work? Will I keep this up?
My life, as with many people now, is centered around being online. I work online, I play video games online, I find funny videos and memes online, I keep up to date on my social circles lives online. So why change things?
I was incresasingly finding that social media was not positively adding to my day. It was taking up my time, scrolling through all my timelines in various apps looking at/liking content. However, it wasn’t making my life better in anyway. When I took some time to actually think about it, I wasn’t even using these apps because I enjoyed doing so. I was simply doing it out of routine.
My first test was to just quite cold turkey. Remove the apps from my phone entirely. This only lasted a few days. I realized that there was a genuine need in some cases for these apps. For example, I use Facebook messenger to communicate with several friends/groups. Additionally I did still enjoyed sharing things with my social circle (photos, articles, etc).
~Out of Sight, Out of Mind~
My second iteration was to remove these apps from my phone’s home screen. I would leave them installed so that I could still share things like photos when I wanted. However, I turned off all notification settings to avoid the temptation of looking at them.
This is the compromise that I found worked for me and still use to this day.
Thankfully, I did notice a positive change. My useage of various social media platforms (especially Facebook), dropped dramatically. In the specific case of Facebook, I would usually browse for a bit, first thing in the morning as I woke up. Then I often wouldn’t look at it again until the end of the day. I no longer used the apps as a time filler or distraction. I’m not sure I could specifically say happier, but certainly more present and less distracted.
This very slight barrier that I put in place to use the app (having to go into my app drawer, instead of just clickig on my phone’s homepage), was just enough that it made me consider using these apps. In situations that I would normally start to mindlessly scroll through a timeline (eg. waiting at the mechanic), I would do things like take in my surroundings, spend time visualizing, thinking, or reading articles.
Keep it going?
Though the change was not what I’d call life altering, it was a positive one that I’ve enjoyed.
I don’t have any plans on going back to the “old way”. However I do have plans to change my current system. As life gets busier with work and my daughter, I’ve found myself falling back into spending more time on social median as a distraction/brain reset. That isn’t a trend that I want to continue, so I’ll be thinking about what changes I want to continue to make.
My goal still remains the same. Limit myself to things that will either add to my quality of life. Or that create meaningful interactions with others. Currently apps like Facebook and Twitter don’t meet either of those criteria.
Two apps that I do still regularly use are:
Facebook messenger, as I still use it to interact with friends and create meaningful interactions.
Instagram I find makes me happier both through sharing and consuming content from my friends.
Just like anything it’s a work in progress, but one that I do see value in 🙂