This article was written by Lynn Joseph on behalf of Sherley Altidor.
There comes a time when you sit down at your computer or unlock your phone or tablet and open up a social media platform but you truly have no desire to be scrolling through said platform(s). The act is done out of a daily routine but you may have found yourself bored and/or unfulfilled with what you’re getting out of the platform. You may find that the energy that you’re receiving is not as positive as it once was on the platform, or numerous platforms. You may find that you are not finding joy in these moments. In this case, it might be time to take a break from social media. A detox if you will.
Social media isn’t the fun and fluffy place that it used to be. Nowadays, there are trolls and bullies and Nazis and unqualified know it alls and people who do not respect personal space coming into people’s public spaces recklessly. There are so many triggers for people dealing with a host of issues (eating disorders, sexual harassment, etc…) and there’s a lack of intelligent and respectful discourse nowadays because everybody has to be right and not many people can genuinely sit down and listen to an experience outside of their own. That is exhausting. That is toxic. We could write a 20-page essay on all of the ways that social media has become toxic and there would still be more that wouldn’t make it in.
We need a social media break because it’s part of our everyday lives and we get a break from everything else in our everyday lives. If you are going to incorporate a pattern into your life, there has to be a beginning, middle, and end. Within that, there is always an intermission. We rest at night to reset. We need rest for a host of reasons and we can apply many of those reasons to taking a break in general from every part of our daily routine. The pros outweigh the cons in that the only actual con of this is more significant to a small amount of people on social media. Everybody wants to be heard. Nobody wants to be forgotten. Everybody wants a voice. If you take a break, will people realize you’ve been gone? Will they remember you when you come back? Yes and no. Do you want to be remembered in the same way that you were known before your break? Do you want to be another voice being drowned out in many oversaturated spaces online? Perhaps after you take a detox from social media, you should take a week to reassess your purpose on these platforms and how to maximize that. If you want people to remember you, give them something positive to remember.
What’s great about social media is that we can create our safe space. There is a lot that we can control. The same can be said for taking a step back and examining your presence in all of this. When taking a social media detoxification, you set the perimeters for how you’d like to go about taking that break. Nobody knows what you need during this break from social media more than you. Do you need your weekly activity to drop to zero on all platforms? Do you find that one or two platforms have been particular challenges to positively engage in? Do you find that it is more enjoyable and manageable to cruise through social media only in the mornings, during your lunch hour, the evenings, or only on the weekend? Nobody can tell you what kind of detox that you need to take because nobody knows your social media habits better than you. I will say that you will get what you put into this exercise. So you have to be honest with yourself.
If you identify that seeing certain photos on Instagram isn’t good for your mental health, unfollow those accounts, and mute/block any other accounts that come through. Because taking a break from social media isn’t going to be helpful if you come back to the same mess. Clean house. Go through the list of people that you are following and engaging with and reassess who is bringing you joy and being a positive light in your life. If these people and accounts don’t meet those standards, consider if you should really be following them. Then take a week off Instagram. When the week is over, determine how often you really need to be on the platform. After a month, see if you miss any of those accounts that you followed and if you do, determine why.
If you find that after your first detox, you wouldn’t mind keeping this up long term, go for it. If you find that you need to reset and rediscover your love and appreciation for social media once a year or once every season, go for it.
If you’re a blogger/vlogger or someone who has a financial obligation to be on social media as much as possible, you too can take a social media break. It’s up to you if you want to announce that you will be taking a one or two week or one month break or longer, or if you want to take a break but schedule your posts and tweets ahead of time so that you still have content pushing out. I do not know your financial situation or the state of your mental health, so I cannot tell you what is best for you but there are options.
What kind of social media detox works best for you?
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