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Quitting Social Media And Its Benefits

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Over a year ago, one simple decision changed the quality of my life for the better. 

In an ever-increasing digital age, I challenged myself to do the impossible: quit social media for an extended period of time to see what kind of benefits I would uncover from this (no pun intended) social experiment. 

My determination was set, so I opened all of my social media apps for the last time, deactivated my accounts, deleted them from my phone and went forward with the challenge. Little did I know that this one small decision would snowball into many great habits that have become a mainstay in my day-to-day life.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take it from the top.

The Catalyst

In early 2022, I was fed up with time.

You read that correctly. I was in a full-blown beef with time itself – one of the most crucial aspects of our lives.

Let me explain.

For much of early 2022, I was having a little, not-so-midlife crisis of sorts. Now more than ever, my days felt like a never-ending cycle of nothingness. I would get off work at 5 p.m., walk my dogs, eat, blink, and just like that, my day would be over.

Wash, rinse and repeat every day.

“What the hell is going on?” I eventually started to ask myself. In theory, since I worked from home, my days should feel longer than ever since I wasn’t spending valuable time in tiresome commutes. But this was not the case. Rarely did my weekdays provide enough time to fully enjoy the things that helped me relax after a day of work, particularly video games.

That’s right, video games. Video games were the eventual catalyst that helped me quit social media and take back control of my time. For those who say nothing good comes from playing video games, point them in my direction. I’d like to have a quick word with them.

In any case, I was determined to see what was consuming my time. So, I started to audit my days like I was about to file my taxes. This little exercise eventually led me to a shocking discovery that I knew had to change.

Caught Re(a)d-Handed

After meticulously auditing my day, I found the culprit that was wasting my days away. 

It wasn’t time evaporating right before my eyes like some Dalli painting; it was my constant checking of social media that was gnawing at my days like the ferocity of a rabid dog. 

The mindless scrolling of my many social media feeds was burning away at my days like a bushfire and I had little to no benefits to show for it. I rarely remembered the last TikTok or Reel I watched, let alone any from the day before. 

I was eager to delve deeper and shed even more light on my time on social media.

The great thing about the modern age is the constant reporting we have at our disposal to evaluate many aspects of our lives. Our watches provide important fitness data, our bank apps have countless spending tools and most phones have time management reports. 

When I opened my phone screen time, I was greeted with a shocking revelation: I was spending over three hours a day browsing social media – sometimes more. That’s insane!

This discovery was a wake-up call for me; I recognized that a change was needed, and I knew social media would take the bulk of this hit.

Let the process begin.

Baby Steps

If you want to take a break from social media – or any other activity for that matter – you don’t have to quit cold turkey to reach your goal. 

I mean, you definitely can if that works for you, but usually, the best way to quit something is by slowing things down and taking small steps that help you stay on course to reach your goal.

For me, this was limiting my access to social media. To begin, I decided to implement a screen time limit for all my social media accounts on my iPhone. I set a two-hour limit for each social app, ensuring that I wouldn’t come close to reaching the three-hour mark on a given day.

Initially, this worked out fine and it was doing what it was supposed to. Eventually, however, curiosity (and boredom) would rear its ugly head and I would constantly add more time to my daily limit almost every day.

This backpedaling was not ideal and I realized that if I wanted to really limit my social media usage and have more time for video games, I had to quit cold turkey—no ifs, ands or buts about it.

So I did just that and since late June 2022, I have not looked back.

Benefits and The End?

So here we are, one year removed from all personal social media accounts (minus LinkedIn for work-related purposes) and there have definitely been many pros to quitting social media and I’m grateful for the insights I’ve gained.

To start, my mindset and my approach to time has changed in so many ways. 

Since quitting social media, I’ve made time to be more active regularly and constantly going on more hikes in over a decade. I’ve also been going to the gym three-five times a week and have finally gotten rid of my post-pandemic stomach – ha! 

I’ve also bought a Kindle this year and have read more books this year than I probably have in my entire life! Book reviews to come later on in this blog!

In other aspects, I noticed that I don’t feel the need to always grab my phone when at the kitchen table or hanging out with friends and this has made me more aware of the present and enjoy little things.

In a funny twist of irony, I have more time than I did last year to play video games, but I’ve recently been taking a little break from video games, so I’m a completely different person than I was a year ago. Not to sound exaggerated, but I definitely feel like this is true.

I’ve realized just how much time we spend on entertainment and this has programmed my brain to be more mindful of wasting time and getting more out of my days. Or at least attempt to.

Now there are clear drawbacks to quitting social media, of course. For starters, you become somewhat disconnected from your inner circle because you don’t have the constant social updates that people naturally provide on those channels.

Speaking of disconnected, unless you have a dedicated news app, you can kiss keeping up with current events goodbye. Personally, I don’t mind not occupying my brain with so much information, but it’s something to keep in mind if you need your news fix. 

With all of this laid out, does this mean I am completely done with social media forever? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s tough to answer right now, but what I do know is if I ever do go back to social media in the future, I want to use it wisely — like to promote this new blog of mine, for example (hint, hint). 

Quitting social media made me realize that we shouldn’t spend our entire lives solely for the purpose of online social interactions and shouldn’t overly prioritize seeking validation through “likes” at the expense of our genuine happiness.

It’s OK to have a sub-100 follower account and be selective with whom you choose to follow. It’s OK to put your phone away when having lunch with a family member. And it’s definitely OK to step away from social media for a while if you just want things to slow down and to enjoy the now.

If you ever felt like me and wanted to get a little bit more out of your day, try quitting social media; I absolutely recommend it! It can be challenging and you’ll be disconnected from the world, but you will immediately start to see benefits and small improvements in your life. Your brain might thank you for it.

Now if I could just quit napping so much… 

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