Thought Collective #5- How I Feel About Social Media

It’s not secret that I have been trying to spend more time away from my phone for the last few months. I even wrote a whole post about going off the grid (sort of) for a week, and that experiment was really eye opening for me.

Since then, I have really been paying attention to the way I use social media and how much of my time I spend on it.

Before I get into the darker side of the internet, I want to acknowledge some of the good that is has brought me! Social media is a wonderful tool, one that I am so grateful for.

Because of it, I…

  • found a community of like-minded readers
  • made amazing friendships
  • discovered new passions
  • became informed on topics that I otherwise would not have ever heard of

I would not take back any of these things that social media has given me.

However, I think it’s also equally as important to talk about the bad, too. We all know that social media affects us tremendously. It has been the cause of anxiety and depression for me, given me FOMO, triggered unhealthy perceptions of my body, and overall just helps me waste time.

I think that what I’ve realized about social media is that you need to remember that it is a tool. You are supposed to be in control of it, not the other way around.

I am much more conscious of how I use social media now. I use it for interaction with friends and fellow readers. I use it to share parts of my day that I think others will be interested in. I use it to stay informed and to inform others. I use it for inspiration. And that’s it.

I don’t use it for mindless entertainment the way I used to. I don’t use it to compare myself to others. I don’t use it to follow petty drama.

And I have truly seen a huge improvement in my mood.

I thought that I would share some things that I did that really helped me break my social media addiction of mindless scrolling.

  1. Don’t be afraid to unfollow: I know that it may seem harsh to unfollow someone, but I think if you are not benefitting from their content, you don’t enjoy their content, or you’re just not interested in it, you should not feel guilty for unfollowing. You are allowed to curate your space for yourself! I regularly go through my following lists on various social media sites and unfollow accounts that don’t align with my values. When I do scroll through my feeds, I only see content that I am genuinely interested in!
  2. Set limits: When I first began shortening my time online, I found it super helpful to implement the downtime feature on my iPhone. From 9:30 pm to 8:00 am, I set a control that blocked all of my apps! I no longer use it now, but I conditioned myself not to go on my phone for the first hour after waking up, and I try to get off of it at least 30 minutes before I go to bed. There are other ways to set limits, too. You can allow yourself to go on social media for one hour a day. Or you can delete the apps on your phone and only check it on your desktop. Or you can schedule specific times throughout your day that you will check it. Figure out what works best for you!
  3. Decide what you want to use and figure out your why: Having a ‘why’ for spending less time on social media is really effective. What can you accomplish in the 5 hours that you don’t spend on your phone? Maybe you can pick up a new hobby. Maybe you can improve a skill or learn something new. Maybe you can use that time for self care or to spend time with your family! You don’t realize just how much time you are spending on social media if you don’t pay active attention to it. It also helps to know which apps you actually want to use. For instance, I spend much more time on Instagram than Twitter now, and I deleted TikTok entirely a few months ago. I only use Snapchat for sending videos/photos to friends, but I otherwise don’t go on it. Again, decide what works for you!

How do you feel about social media? It’s definitely one of those things that’s in the gray area. It’s neither good nor bad. Again, I think it all depends on how you use it!

I hope this post was helpful, though, and that you took something away from it! I would love to know what you think.

I Took a Week Off of Social Media

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may already know that for the last full week of June, I took a break from social media. After watching Ariel Bissett’s video, my friend Olivia and I decided to take some time away from the online world for our mental health.

First, I think social media is a really powerful tool and it has so many benefits. I love social media, and I would never be able to give it up, BUT I think taking occasional breaks is important, too!

How did it go?

  • Truthfully, it was hard.
  • I chose the week I did because it happened to be the week I was going on a mini vacation to the Pocono Mountains- my parents rented a house on the lake so that we would get a break from the monotony of sitting home for months. I wanted to be present during this time and really enjoy my surroundings instead of being glued to my phone. Plus, I figured I would be a bit busier than normal, so it would be easier to get my mind off of my phone.
  • Day one, I woke up and felt super anxious because I almost always get DMs overnight, and I felt bad that I wouldn’t be able to answer the people who had replied to my story or asked me a question. I had a nagging feeling all morning. However, that was the same day we were leaving for the trip, so I was pretty busy with packing, grocery shopping, etc. After those initial few hours, it actually got a lot easier!
  • The second day was pretty good, and I figured the challenge would only get easier from there.
  • Boy was I wrong.
  • On the third day, I caved. accidentally. I was checking to make sure my blog post went up as scheduled, and I clicked on the link to my Instagram unintentionally. I checked my notifications, read my DMs, and left the app.
  • The next two days were alright after that… until I caved again on the sixth day. I checked my Twitter notifications and scrolled through my feed for a couple of minutes. Nobody’s perfect, okay?
  • I spent the last day off of social media until about 8:30 pm. I decided that was when I was going to make my return because there were some things I wanted to check online.

What did I learn?

  • I can get a lot done when I don’t spend 9+ hours on my phone a day.
  • Twitter can really bring my mood down.
  • I am much happier when I spend more time outside.
  • Social media is a much better tool when I use it consciously instead of spending hours mindlessly scrolling.
  • Leaving the house without bringing your phone? Freeing.

What did I accomplish?

  • I read 3 books and got over halfway through another!
  • I went kayaking and bike riding and paintballing and running. So. Much. Fun. And I didn’t feel the need to document it at all. I really lived in the moment.
  • I did…some…writing. It wasn’t as much writing as I had hoped, but I was still able to write a couple of chapters.
  • I worked on some blog/freelance related stuff and it felt SO. GOOD. It was stuff I had been putting off for quite a while.
  • I caught up with some of my best friends, and I reached out to others who I haven’t talked to in a while.
  • My screen time went from an average of nine hours a day to FOUR- i used my phone for reading e-books and audiobooks & taking pictures!

Final Thoughts:

I think this was a super important experience and I’m glad that I attempted it. I wasn’t perfect at following the rules, but I accomplished most of what I wanted to.

Going forward, I am definitely going to be much more intentional about my time online. I also want to take social media breaks more often (maybe once a week or so?).

Have you ever taken a social media break? What did you think of it and would you do it again?

If not, have you ever considered it? Let’s chat about it in the comments because I’m so interested in it now!