Breaking up with Social Media

Breaking up with Social Media
Cartoon of happy, productive man looking at smartphone (by Dall-E).

At the end of last year, I deleted my accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I’ve been around eight months since I’ve gone cold turkey on social media. Let’s provide some context on the decision and consider the impact on my life today, so folks can consider whether it may make sense for them too.

Like most people, I was a near-daily, usually multiple times per day, user of Instagram. That app is the primary messaging platform for some of my friends, and the channel helped me keep up to date on the happenings in my network.

Great looking vacation! Looks like the new girlfriend is Instagram-official!

But the Instagram algorithm is ruthless. The FOMO Factory reminds you that even if your life is going pretty well, some people have it better in each aspect (though not necessarily the holistic view), so your life looks worse by comparison. A gratitude journal, it ain't.

Stories and posts keep you hooked, so your perception of time disappears.

I deleted my social media for similar reasons in 2018, only to recreate accounts around six to twelve months later. So I’ve done this before, and my social life didn’t end.

Late last year, I decided to break the cord again. My professional aspirations and personal commitments demanded a level of focus that was challenging to sustain with social media's constant interruptions. It was time to reprioritize, to replace scrolling with more deliberate actions, and devote more time to productive endeavors that aligned with my professional and personal growth.

Apps have mastered the art of delayed account deletion. This gives us 'commitment-phobes' (like me at times) ample time for second thoughts. But once dormant becomes deleted, it's a done deal!

So, how has it gone so far?

The impact of this decision has been profound, resulting in noticeable improvements in my work productivity, my health and fitness, and, surprisingly, my social life. These changes, particularly in my professional productivity, have given me a deeper appreciation for our power to control our time and align it with our goals and values.

Most people are addicted to their smartphones. Day-to-day, my phone addiction remains, unfortunately. But the activities are different. More messaging with friends, reading news articles, and no social media. Time still goes out the window, though I imagine these habits are healthier.

While it's challenging to establish a direct causal relationship between my productivity surge and the deletion of social media accounts, the correlation is hard to ignore. The time and mental space freed from social media distractions has nourished my professional efficiency and personal well-being. My biggest productivity hacks remain: 1) putting my phone in a different room and 2) operating in Pomodoro blocks (25 mins of focused time).

For fitness, I work with a trainer in a small group, so it’s a social activity on my calendar – two big reasons I’m more likely to show up, making it much more likely to see results.

My social life has clearly improved, which can be more directly attributed to the social media deletion. The only way to know people’s updates is to ask them! So, I’ve likely become the most socially proactive person in my social group(s). Because if I’m not proactive, I will likely be in the dark! Coffee, dinners, drinks – all increased.

Would I say it’s been worth it? Absolutely! I would recommend it. LinkedIn is my only social network at the moment, which is both fantastic and sad at the same time.

I’m not saying I will never recreate accounts again, but I’ve no current plans or motivation. But so far, so good!