A few weeks ago, I made the spontaneous decision to delete the Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone. I didn't delete my accounts, as I still use them for work, but I put my personal use of the apps to rest. I wasn't inspired by any article or study to do so; I just couldn't keep scrolling any longer. In the decade I've owned an iPhone, I noticed my habits have changed drastically — for the worse. I became addicted to my Facebook app, checking it the second I woke up (resulting in an hour of use), in every spare moment, and sometimes for hours after work. After I had overdone it with depressing news on FB, I'd turn to Instagram, scrolling until I'd become nauseated from the motion and images of friends and celebrities living their best lives, looking healthier and happier than me. So I quit cold turkey. I didn't know what would happen or how I'd feel, but I figured surely it would be better than the current state of affairs. Here's what I've noticed:
I don't miss it.
I wondered if I'd experience a withdrawal, but I haven't. I work in a media company and feared I'd miss major headlines if I didn't stay glued to social media. Truth is, I'm still in the know, no FB or Instagram on my phone needed. Better yet, I feel like my eyes and ears are more open to listening to what people on the streets are talking about and what issues my friends and family care about. I'm able to be engaged with but not engulfed by the news.
Every time I opened Instagram, I used to have this anxiety like I wasn't really living life if I didn't post a memory publicly on Instagram. Not spending hours looking at other people's lives has freed me up to actually live my own life without the worry that the memory is worthy of a photograph.
I feel so much more at peace.
Without social media, I noticed how much broader the real world is. My eyes are open to the actual world around me, not some algorithm that funnels news and pictures it knows I'll click on. This actually gives me a lot more peace and hope for humanity. Less news exposure means less paranoia. I don't have to compare or condemn myself. Instead, I can spend my energy offering love and support to those around me, which makes me feel happier rather than paralyzed by fear.
I'm spending spare time on healthy activities.
I recently learned transcendental meditation, and so now, instead of panicking about headlines the moment I wake up, I sit quietly for 20 minutes to ground myself for the day. I'm able to leave the house centered and aware of my breath rather than feeling like a frazzled shell of a person. I've started eating meals away from screens. I'm listening to positive and uplifting podcasts while I cook or clean my house (special shout-out to Tara Brach's mindfulness podcast). If I watch TV, it's all about comedies.
I've had such a positive experience getting rid of my social media apps, so I can't say I'm going to be compelled to redownload them anytime soon. I'm happily working on getting my zen on, being a kinder, more loving human, and counting down the days until the next election.
For more information on social media usage affecting mental health, take a look at Forbes's 6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health and Time's Why Instagram Is the Worst Social Media For Mental Health.