I have been active on social media ever since I was younger than 12 years old. For more than 6 years of my life, I have been glued to the screen of my smart phone or laptop, constantly updating myself with the lives of my friends.
During the last few months of my A Levels, I realised how toxic this was. I would spend more than 30 minutes at a time on Instagram, scrolling through the lives of people I didn’t know and frankly, I didn’t care about either. Even my dad said, ‘I have a full time job and I don’t even look at my phone as much as you do!” It was horrible. I wasted so much time on social media when I could have spent that time on something productive.
So I decided to remove myself from social media.
I’m not going to sugar coat it - it was tough. The first few days were mentally exhausting for me. I was so bored out of my mind. Eventually I started to get the hang of it, and day by day, it became easier.
I was no longer dependent on social media to have conversations, I had no obligations and responsibility to ‘follow’ somebody or ‘post pictures at the most active hours’ or ‘reply a message by a certain time’. Long story short, I was liberated.
Social media detox was such a beautiful experience for me, so below I’ve shared a few tips on how I survived, and loved, my time away from social media.
Tip 1: Change your mindset
This is my MOST important tip. You can not change unless you really want to. Start by reflecting on your time on social media. Ask yourself, ‘how much time do I spend on social media, what do I learn from going on social media, and how toxic is it to me?’ Even though you realise how dependent you are on social media, you can not change unless you have the right mindset. Be determined, be motivated, and be strong.
Tip 2: Uninstall the app from your smartphone
Now, this is optional, but I highly recommend it for students undergoing exams (or something equally as stressful and time consuming). I started off by removing Snapchat, then Facebook, and finally Instagram. (I only kept Whatsapp because that’s how I kept communication with my friends and family). No matter how hard, just do it. I highly recommend replacing social media apps with apps such as CNN, BBC, or my personal favourite Bustle. You’ll most likely spend less time on those apps, and if you do, you’ll be learning something or keeping up with world news.
Tip 3: Filter your messages
What I mean by that is choosing who and what to reply. As I mentioned, I didn’t uninstall Whatsapp, but I decreased my time from it significantly. This was really easy to do. You don’t need to reply to every message that comes your way. No need to reply one word messages with emojis, no need to create small talk, and no more checking to see if your crush has texted you. Before starting work, tell everyone with whom you are having a conversation that you’ll talk to them after you’ve finished studying. Only text someone if you need a semi-immediate answer, and if it’s extremely crucial, call the person! It saves so much time. A half an hour conversation over Whatsapp can be shortened to a 3 minute phone call. Soon enough, you’re no longer checking your phone every 5 minutes, expecting a text.
Tip 4: Get a friend (or support group) to join you
Or at least tell a friend about your detox. But make sure that your friend does share the same sentiments and agrees the detox is a good idea. This is so that you have positive influence and great support. Trust me, it makes a huge difference and makes the journey a lot easier.
Tip 5: Don’t blame yourself for cheat days
If for one moment of one day, you feel the urge to go on social media, and you can’t stop yourself, and ended up going on, do not be so hard on yourself! We all have those moments. Just remember why you decided to do the detox in the first place.
Tip 6: Fill you social media with good influences
If you end up reuniting with your social media after your exams, or just decided to have a cleaner social media, this is something I find extremely refreshing. Spend a few minutes to ‘spring clean’ your social media. Unfollow the fashion blogger that has really anoying captions, or that primary school friend that posts questionable photos. Make sure that the people you see on social media are those that you care about, or those that inspires you. Fill your social media with positive energy (as cheesy as it sounds). Follow blogs that recommend books or study tips and inspirations. I also recommend following accounts that can help you with your current university passion (eg. Medicine - Medicaltalks, Business - businessinsider, Architecture - architecturestudent). Remember, these are students and individuals that have gone through what you might go through, so keep an open mind because you’ll never know what you can learn.
These are my key takeaways from my experience detoxifying from social media, and the methods that have worked really well for me. I wish those that decide to the same the best of luck!