I know this isn’t the first time you’ve heard that you should take a break from social media, and it won’t be the last. I also know every excuse in the book for not embarking on this oh-so-daring adventure that such an idea has become, because I’ve made them all.
I used to be someone who depended on social media for my livelihood. I’d advertise both my yoga classes and writing services on Insta and Facebook, and I found clients that way. When you’re someone who does use the platforms for such activities, social media can be a necessary evil. This can make it difficult to simply remove them from your life. I get it.
In 2019, I was traveling in a van through New Zealand with two strangers I’d met through Couchsurfing. I remember how well we got along, and how happy I was that they were such chill people — it really was a gamble jumping into a van with a couple of randoms, no matter how great their reviews on the CS app was.
But I did butt heads with one of them around the second week of our travels, right about when we’d made our way from the north island to the south. Why? Because as we sat down to have a beer at restaurant, having emerged from days of camping in the wilderness into sweet civilization, I was glued to my now Wi-Fi-blessed phone.
One of my fellow travellers said, “You know, one day you’ll look back and regret not having been present with us. All that other stuff will always be there.”
Hurt by my pride, I said defensively, “Well I depend on social media for my work. I need Wi-Fi…I made that clear before we joined this trip together…” And on and on.
While I did speak the truth, and at that time I was working part time as a personal assistant, he had a very good point, too. And he turned out to be right.
It’s never the bad stuff you remember about the amazing places you’ve travelled to. It always seems to be the good that sticks out as you reminisce, and I do wish I’d worried a little less about always getting service at the next town.
Since then I’ve moved over to Fiverr to find clients needing my freelance writing services, and COVID virtually erased my ability to teach yoga. Consequently, I seem to have run out of valid excuses to distance myself from these addictive and crippling apps. If you get the chance, I hope you run out of excuses, too.
As my friends and I reach our upper twenties and lower to mid-thirties, it’s not uncommon for a few of us to be taking a “sabbatical” from social media at any given time. Here’s why you should.
Your happiness will soar, organically. I can’t promise this will happen right away, but when I take a week or two off social media, I notice my levels of happiness being higher, but also more stable.
That’s because of taking a break from those likes. Yep, the ones that give you that instant gratification. If you’ve ever wondered why that is, it’s because of the little jumps in dopamine that happen when you feel validated over and over by those little hearts and thumbs-up. The end result? We end up basically living our lives for the next post we can make — just to get some more of those likes.
According to a Harvard blog by Trevor Haynes, “platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines and cocaine to keep us using their products as much as possible.”
Once you remove that source of artificial and temporary happiness, you can start getting it from sustainable places in your life like real, in-life connections and relationships, or even exercise which is a much more healthy source for the happy chemicals. You can even find joy by creating things out of pure inspiration, being productive, etc.
Another reason you should give up the Gram is that you’ll likely be a mentally healthier person when you do. “Studies are beginning to show links between smartphone usage and increased levels of anxiety and depression, [and] poor sleep quality,” Haynes says.
I guess it makes sense that something proven to be so addictive would cause anxiety whenever we can’t have it or don’t use it. Plus, it’s so easy to compare your life to everyone else’s when you’re spending all your time watching and observing just that. A very skewed reporting of your followers’ lives.
Also, you will gain so much extra time. And who couldn’t use more of that? It’s the only thing you can’t get back, after all. You probably don’t even realize how much time you spend staring at your phone, scrolling on that damn timeline, and watching videos of, yes, admittedly hilarious, but also meaningless things that other people are doing. Other people.
At some point, it hits you how limited your time is in YOUR life — and not to be dark or negative, but that’s assuming you’ve got a full lifespan. The truth is that none of us knows how much sand we’ve actually got left in the hour glass. We have to carpe diem that shit way more often than we do. Don’t let social media steal your time away from you. Stop watching other people’s lives, and take the reins on yours.
Finally, you will have more energy. You could use extra energy too, couldn’t you? Towards, I dunno…your goals and dreams? It’s plain fact that spending time and energy doing one thing leaves less in the rest of the pie for doing other things. Therefore, do less of that and more of something else.
Taking some time off of social media can really open up your inspiration channels. You’d really be shocked at the ideas and motivations you’ll find popping up in your head and in your soul when you give those doors a chance to open.
It’s honestly like being in a bad relationship. You’re putting all your time and energy into that one thing, which is serving no positive purpose for you in the long run, and you’re effectively making sure you miss the other opportunities out there beyond those closed doors.
By cutting off social media for awhile, you’ll be giving yourself so much more headspace. You can use all that to do productive, empowering, and meaningful things — things you can be proud of. You can start making a legacy out of your life. Use that free time after work to start your dream business. Make other people feel better somehow. Benefit the world using whatever strengths you’ve got. Or even just take better care of yourself. Because you can benefit others more when you’ve got yourself intact.
Some people are great at moderation and limiting the time they spend on social media, and that’s a wonderful skill. I use the ‘everything in moderation’ tactic and I’m a firm believer in it. However, those videos really can suck you in sometimes.
Most people do best and see the most improvement in their lives by taking full sabbaticals, at least based on mine and the experience of my friends. Give yourself the chance to get the full detox from your social media cleanse, because it really is that much of a drug.