I joined Facebook when I was 11. Twitter when I was 13. Instagram shortly followed. And since I made my Facebook account, I genuinely don’t think there’s been a single day in the last 10 years since I had taken time off or had a break from social media. It quickly became part of my daily routine, second nature so that I didn’t even think about it anymore. Last week I took my first social media break and had a little detox, and thought I’d share my experience.
Social media detoxes is something I’ve seen crop up more and more, along with people feeling pressured by social media and all of the issues that come with that. I’ve always had a very positive relationship with social media in general, and therefore had never considered taking a break, until the sheer amount of people I saw announcing their time away from the apps got me thinking. Were these apps affecting me negatively without me realising? Was I even capable of spending time away from them?
I um-ed and ah-ed about taking time off – I wondered what it would do for my business. I’ve been promoting my online classes and coaching services on Instagram and my Facebook page almost daily for months now, and although I’m not exactly drowning in clients, I did worry about what people would think if I suddenly stopped showing up. During lockdown I got into the habit of posting on my Instagram feed every single day, and I’ll admit it was a habit I was scared to break. The truth is, it’ll still be there when you get back.
In the end I thought about it so much that I decided I did really need a break, no matter what the consequences were.
There’s no right or wrong way to do a detox, but I personally put all of my social apps on my phone into one folder and muted all the notifications. I allowed myself to still use Snapchat to message friends, and watched some YouTube although I did feel like that might have been cheating a bit. But like I said, there’s no right or wrong way to do a detox. The apps I spend the most time on and am definitely addicted to are Instagram and Twitter, so those are the apps I wanted to really focus on not using. The only time I used Facebook was to post links to my online classes for my clients, and even then I caught myself starting to scroll the home feed a couple of times.
I definitely found myself missing Instagram the most, I got a parcel in the mail or cooked a good meal and wanted to post it on my story, then realised how ridiculous that was. The phrase ‘Insta or it didn’t happen’ springs to mind.
My personal Instagram @laurenhollie_ is a highlight reel, it always has been. It was a way for me to save memories, post pictures of friends, from prom, nights out etc. but my fitness account @laurenholliefitness is much more real and raw content wise, but it’s almost gone so far the other way now that it feels strange to not post every little thing on there, so I’d love to work to find more of a balance going forwards.
After the first day or so I started to find it a lot easier to not be on the apps, and didn’t even catch myself going to click on them that much, which really surprised me. This whole thing was a bit of an experiment and I didn’t know how long the break was going to be or how I was going to feel about it, but moving forward I think I will be much more aware of my social media usage, and would really like to have more regular scheduled time off the apps.
So, here are reasons that you should take a social media detox, especially if you haven’t ever done it before:
- Realise how much you use the apps and how much time you waste aimlessly scrolling
- Be more present in real life
- Know why you use social media and what you want to get out of them
- Self reflect on your own content
- Self reflect on your consumption in general
- Regain balance in your life
It’s also worth remembering that you can curate your social media feeds to contain exactly what you want to see. If you are struggling on social media, check who you’re following. Don’t be afraid to unfollow accounts if they are negatively impacting your mental health, even if it’s someone you know in real life. I see so many people complaining about posts from certain accounts and just think, if you feel that passionately about them, just block the account so you don’t have to be exposed to it?
The truth is I love social media, I love interacting with everyone and the community aspect, I have certain influencers that I follow and look up to in terms of their career and lifestyle, and I love that I can run my business on social media. There is a very slim chance I will ever be a Personal Trainer in a gym again, but with social media I can do it online and reach my audience that way and I think that’s amazing.
I do want to regain a balance in my life though, and break the addiction to checking stats so much – whether that’s followers, likes, saves or YouTube subscribers. I want to move forward with a more positive attitude towards social media, I will be having a detox in terms of accounts I am following and curating the content I want to see. I still want to create my own content, I like shooting content, editing and providing education and/or entertainment to my audience, it’s a hobby that I won’t be giving up any time soon. I will just be more mindful about my usage.
If you’ve had a social media break or detox, I’d love to hear about your experience and what you learnt from it, or if you do it regularly – do you schedule it in your diary when you’re going to take time off?