The original intent of social media sites such as MySpace or Facebook was to create an online platform in which people could connect. This concept took advantage of the far reaching potential of the internet and sought to do something positive and simple — bring people together. No one can argue that social media has not achieved this goal. It is hard to imagine that virtual networking could come with so many negative side effects, but it does, and consumers feel the impact of them each and every day whether they realize it or not.
Taking a step back from sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can feel like you’re folding in the middle of a very exciting game. Social media has no off season, but maybe it should. There have been many studies conducted in recent years that have produced overwhelming evidence in favor of logging out. Here are 5 benefits of a social media detox (and how to actually do it):
1. No more competition and comparison
Social media is the “highlight reel” of day to day life. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow users to manipulate the appearance of their lives to show a fantastic facade. This turns social media platforms in a competition. Instead of providing a landing page for a check-in on close friends, social media provides highly curated posts which encourage users to compare their imperfect lives to a portfolio of fake perfection. By taking a step back from social media, users deflate the sense of competition and comparison in their friend groups and beyond. Logging out allows users to focus inward on their own lives instead of fixating on the unattainable lives of celebrities, online personalities, or even friends. A social media detox is a great way to cultivate gratitude and focus on personal development.
Instead of scrolling through your feed, consider writing a journal entry about everything you are grateful for today.
2. No more unrealistic beauty standards
Apps like FaceTune have taken the basic properties of Adobe PhotoShop and put them in the hands of the casual social media user. No longer are teenagers idolizing the cover girls on magazines at the local drug store, they’re now comparing themselves to retouched Instagram models that appear every day in their feed. The constant influx of beautiful images can have a serious detrimental impact on the psyche of social media consumers. Users who choose to take a step back from social media may find that they are able to be more aware of those around them and the imperfections that everyday people have.
If all you see is perfect, you may feel imperfect. Instead of following bikini models on Instagram, consider people watching at your favorite local cafe. You will notice that everyday people do not look like Instagram models and yet, they are still beautiful.
3. No more fear of missing out
“Fomo” or “fear of missing out” is one of the biggest negative side effects of using social media. Nowadays, users are expected to constantly be sharing videos and images of everything they’re doing. This puts pressure on people be constantly doing more; more events, concerts, vacations, etc. Not everyone has the time to go out so often, and most people simply can’t afford to.
By taking yourself off of social media, you won’t be able to check in all the time on your friends are doing. This erases the fear of missing out. When you feel the need to go out just to satisfy your feeling of “fomo”, consider instead logging off of social media, maybe even turning off your phone altogether, and treat yourself to a new book you’ve had on your list for a while. You’ll get lost in a new story, completely forget about your “fomo”, and maybe even learn something new.
4. No more obsessing over the past
Social Media provides an archive of everything users have done in the years since its inception. This can be good and bad. On one hand, it’s a great way to reflect on positive life experiences. Of course on the flip side, it allows people to hold onto toxicity that should be left behind. “Out of sight out of mind” could not be a more relevant anecdote with this example. Most people have been guilty of checking in on a past relationship or someone you’ve had conflict with and feeling that wave of negative emotion that comes from seeing into their lives. The healthiest way to move on from a past experience is to avoid rooting it in your present.
You will be surprised by how easy it is to move on from any negative experience when you aren’t forced to relive it through old videos, photos, and other social media content. Instead, consider getting your negative emotions out on paper and try and sign off with a note of forgiveness and acceptance. This is a great exercise to process and move on from any bad experience. It’s important to allow yourself to grieve and feel sadness instead of suppressing these natural human emotions. Social media can make you feel like you have to be happy and positive all the time, but we all know that is extremely unrealistic. Allow yourself to be human.
5. Reclaim the hours of your day that you once spent on social media
Social media is constantly refreshing and providing new content for users to consume. This means that users can be engaging in posts all the time. By the end of the day, hours can be spent scrolling through curated content. Not only are there psychological impacts to all of this input, but there is a huge amount of time wasted daily.
The best way to ditch social media is to set a goal. Start by deleting social media apps and making a promise to yourself that you won’t use them for just one day. Each time you feel the urge to pull out your phone and start scrolling, go for a run, open up that book you treated yourself to again, write a journal entry, or call a friend. You will be astonished at how much are able to accomplish when you reclaim the hours of your day once wasted on social media.