Is this considered social media? Who knows. Either way, I wanted to share with you what quitting social media has done for me.
Before I begin, I want to clarify some things. First, this writing will be sloppy and informal. I did not want to proofread the entire thing. I just got through a very long day at work and wanted to simply get this out there. I apologize if it isn’t a New York Times Bestseller.
Second, I quit the social medias that I would doom scroll through. I’d reach for my phone when I was bored or stressed. I’d open Instagram to feel some sense of serotonin, or take to TikTok to find that one piece of content that may put me into a better mood. Even if I got a laugh or a new idea, I felt like shit afterwards. And “afterwards” would be an hour later, by the way. Then, I’d shower or clean or do whatever habitual practice just to end up back on the couch scrolling for hours. It was an endless cycle that left me feeling disconnected, unmotivated, depressed, and unalive.
Lastly, I quit only the two socials I mentioned: Instagram and TikTok. These two took up most of my time, and would have my attention for extended periods of time. How I felt after using them, the anticipation I felt to use them again, and my dependence on them caused me to finally cut the chord on these platforms. I still use YouTube and Pinterest. I call these the peaceful platforms considering I don’t interact with anyone on there. I watch vlogs, cooking videos, Pin cute outfits, and find creative inspiration. I have a healthy balance of watching stupid shit while also learning a new dessert I want to try.
I hate to use the word addicted, but I was truly dependent on Instagram and TikTok to feel a sense of connection, to feel something. I would use them in any sort of down time from work or conversation — I was always on my phone. I was always commenting, always sharing, always viewing stories, always watching.
Let’s get into the fun things: what I learned. This list grows every week, but this list is from my personal journal (oooh so spicy) within the first five days of deleting Instagram and TikTok. The bracketed, un-italicized text is current thought/notes upon re-reading this excerpt.
Some things are great, some things, not so much. What is important is that I am realizing things I never would have if I didn’t make these apps dance before I finally deleted them.
Day 5 w/out socials
I’ve had to go on some social for work, but other than that it’s just been YouTube and Pinterest. I don’t really interact with people on them, but I’ve realized a lot.
- I depend on social to feel connection to people. I’ve texted friends [since quitting socials], but I feel so lonely. Seeing peoples daily lives gives me a sense that I am experiencing that with them. Its para-social as hell and makes me sad because I’m always too lazy or nervous to go out and actually hang with people. I’ve deprived myself of the one thing I crave the most: genuine human connection. It’s so quiet. It’s just me and then [redacted for privacy] when he’s home. It’s so alone.
- Will I have to completely never go on IG/TikTok again, or can I find a healthy balance? If I have to find the healthy balance, I must:
- Find things that are enriching and take up most of my time
- Go on socials for 30-minutes tops
- Go out and spend time with friends or just by myself in town
It’s so scary. I feel like I’m truly addicted to my phone and that slight serotonin of messages and comments because its digital connection. Social media can be used for good.
It’s important to note right here I felt as if I couldn’t live without it and I was scared that I’d never be able to get on these platforms again. You can notice I try to justify using the platforms if I just give myself these boundaries that I surely will not live by (because I’ve tried that before, many times). I try to justify social media saying that it can be used for good even though I know it is not a healthy thing for me to engage in. All of it was excuses in disguise to eventually get me back to my fix of instant gratification and digital connection.
3. My focus has improved. No headaches. I’m very present and noticing where I make mistakes/prevent them from happening. I feel like I’m here. Theres not a big fog I’m in. I feel good aside from the loneliness.
4. I noticed I think, I should post that, or That’d be a good story. My brain pre-plans content to post. When I am enjoying something, I want to share it and post it. It’s slowed down recently, only happens once or twice a day now.
5. I have freedom that many others do not/cannot have. Social media isn’t my job (besides the little support I do for work interim). My life is private. I’m in solitude [in juxtaposition with loneliness I mentioned above; I think this is a great switch of mindset]. It is quiet. I can decide if and when to use it. I don’t have a dependence on it for my main source of income. I can leave social media and never get on again. Maybe it will help with my art and creativity [it has].
6. I don’t want to share as much as I used to [when I was younger] or thought. Just generally speaking, even on socials, I don’t share as much of my personal life as I once did [when I was younger].
7. I can focus a lot better on my relationships w/out outside influence. I have my expectations set and thats it. I can connect better with my friends, family, partner, and it feels good.
8. I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but no more nightmares or apocalypse dreams recently [I’d been having many apocalypse dreams the last month almost every night. They weren’t exactly terrifying, oddly enough. Just strange]. A win/win either way.
9. I feel the magic of things now [again]. I love Lord of the Rings and how it made me feel [silly, I know — but I had lost the magic of movies/shows and traditional entertainment considering my attention span was weakened. It felt good to sit through 16+ hours of a series and really be into it and actually feel something from it].
That was just the first five days. I’m currently on day 12 and I’ve noticed a few others:
- boost in creativity (mostly writing, my true love)
- lust for life and travel again
- anxiety, but I am now able to identify its roots and calm myself down
I’ve picked up new hobbies to occupy my time:
- I crave going on walks. I walk every day now for at least 20 minutes and this has been a game changer for my mental health and setting the tone for my day.
- I cook and bake every single day. I am perfecting my bread recipe and bake bread at least twice a week.
- I make my own oat milk.
- I read every day because I really need to finish the book I’ve been reading for the last five months and I enjoy the imagery that reading gives me.
These are all things I wanted for myself. Freeing up my time from socials gave me so much more control over my life. It feels so nice to be me again.
If you’re someone who didn’t grow up in the digital age, this may sound really sad to you. Sadly enough, this is the reality of a lot of young people. I notice, however, many more people are quitting socials and creating more community connections.
I’ve also decided that my Medium will probably mostly be poetry from here on out. Its all thats interested me recently and it feels good to be back to writing it. Thanks for reading and for the endless kindness as always.