Every new year comes with a new chance to set intentions and goals for where you’d like to be. Is your relationship to social media on that list?
With 3.6 billion people using social media worldwide, social network apps have become almost synonymous with the idea of a community.
But while opening social media apps has become second nature, we see more and more people turning their backs on social media.
If you want to join them and take a break from social media in the following months, here’s how to do it.
Social media and mental health
As human beings, we’re social creatures. We crave human interaction and validation. We want to be in the company of friends or family and share our lives with them.
This explains why we want to share significant events in our lives. To have someone to celebrate or a shoulder to cry on.
But sharing the little details in our daily lives also makes us feel good. When someone acknowledges that we’ve had a yummy lunch, a weird commute, or a relaxing vacation, it makes us feel validated.
We need to be able to communicate and forge personal connections with one another. And social media platforms made communication so much easier.
Firstly, distance, busy schedules, even different time zones don’t seem to matter anymore.
However, it might be hard to notice that we’re becoming more acquainted with our friends’ digital facades than their real-life personas. And the disconnect between what we portray on social media and real-life led to so many mental health issues.
Social media may cause feelings of stress, anxiety, isolation, or even depression if you find yourself comparing other people’s lives to yours.
Using social media too frequently has also been linked to increased unhappiness and feelings of isolation. Obsessively checking notifications can lead to lower sleep quality.
You might want to keep an eye on the signs that social media is starting to impact you negatively:
- You feel drained after scrolling through your feed.
- You’re constantly comparing yourself to others.
- You rely on likes and comments to boost your confidence.
- Your feed is the last thing you see before going to sleep.
- You feel guilty enough to change your diet, lifestyle, or body.
- You find it more challenging to focus outside the online world.
- You find yourself doomscrolling more often than not.
- Social media is no longer a nice-to-have but a need-to-have activity.
To ensure that social media has a positive impact on your health, it’s essential to be conscious of how you’re using it.
That means knowing when to take a break and direct your attention elsewhere.
Social media and data-mining
But even if you might not get FOMO on social media, most websites are far from being friendly with your privacy.
Of course, I’m talking about data-mining.
Given the very nature of social media platforms as connection-enablers, it’s easy to overshare. And tech companies know this.
They have your likes, your dislikes, your hobbies, your interests, your activity history. All of which can paint an accurate picture of you. Unsurprisingly, they want to monetize their knowledge of you. And companies, advertising agencies, government authorities, or law enforcement agencies are willing to buy the valuable data.
For example, Facebook regularly collects data on its users by monitoring which ads were clicked, updates on profiles, shows watched, and holidays. They then neatly file and sort all this data to “help advertisers reach the right people.”
But Facebook has gotten in trouble many times in the past for overstepping boundaries and user privacy to keep on “helping advertisers.” The Cambridge Analytica scandal is perhaps the most famous example.
To refresh your memory, back in 2018, Cambridge Analytica used personal information taken without authorization from Facebook profiles to build a software program that could profile voters and target them with advertisements.
A whistleblower revealed how the data analytics firm worked with Donald Trump’s election team to harvest millions of people’s profiles and built models to exploit and target people to sway them as potential voters.
But Facebook isn’t the only social media giant that came under fire for its privacy-invasive practices.
The Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma tackled people’s relationship with social media and the impact big tech like Google has on our lives. It’s really worth a watch.
How to take a break from social media
Even if you feel like you should take a break from social media, it can be difficult to do. For many people, scrolling through social media feeds can be an addictive stimulus. If you want to focus on yourself, it will take some real willpower to ignore your phone notifications.
Here are some things you can do:
- Turn off notifications on all platforms.
- Dedicate time to your friends and hobbies.
- Put your phone across the room at night so that you can’t scroll before bed.
If social media is still all too tempting, you can ease up by deactivating your accounts.
Or, if you feel social media takes up too big a part of your life, you might consider deleting your accounts and your digital footprint.
No matter your choice, we got you covered with our step-by-step guides. Check them out:
As an alternative, you can look into more privacy-friendly messaging apps to keep in touch with friends and family.
Does your social media feed have you feeling down and like less than your typically fabulous self? How did you decide to deal with your accounts? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time, stay safe and secure!