Glued to Instagram? Find yourself scrolling Facebook or Linkedin whenever you’re not doing anything. Social media addiction is a thing, and it has real health impacts.
And that’s why you should delete social media, and not look back. Thank me later 😉
Bold statement? Sure. And you can be forgiven for thinking that this might be a bit ambitious for a young person in todays world. After all, how can you communicate with friends if you’re not on Snapchat, Insta, TikTok etc.
But hear me out here. You do not need social media. Social media needs you…
Our dependence on social media
From the days of MySpace, through the growth of Facebook to the time sucking super powers of Instagram and TikTok, social media has had a rapid growth. The novelty of being able to connect with old friends or stalk celebs or our crushes is now taken for granted.
The average American spends 58 minutes a day on Facebook, and 53 minutes a day on Instagram.
We scroll endlessly through our social feeds, liking, watching, sharing. But at the end of it, do we feel better for this time spent? Do we come away from our screens enlightened and glad that we spent nearly an hour of our day reading and watching a carefully curated slice of someone elses life?
I’m willing to guess that the answer there is a pretty solid no.
It’s been shown that interacting with social media gives us that dopamine hit, the pleasure/reward sensation. So, we instictively reach for social media when we’re bored, sad or feeling any other emotional extreme.
And one of the biggest problems with social media is….
Social media vs reality
What we see on social media doesn’t reflect real life. As humans, we are used to presenting our best sides. We do it when we chat to friends, at work, with family – in short we’re always going to try and make it seem as if we’re happy and living our best life.
And social media amplifies this.
What you see on social media is someone elses idealised presentation of their life. From celebrities and influencers, to an old buddy of yours who seems to be doing great. The truth is, they’re sharing only the highlights and the best bits.
Which means we end up comparing ourselves and our lives unfairly to others.
This can mean anything from body image to lifestyle.
There is also the huge problem of misinformation and disinformation. Tests have shown that fake news is more likely to be shared on social media, and that ‘the truth’ tends to be less widely shared.
And when we are scrolling through hundreds of images and posts in a few minutes, we can be exposed to hundreds if images and ‘facts’. And we as we’re digesting these posts, our minds are not processing or analysing them to understand the truth behind them… We’re most often just assuming that what we see is fact.
This alone is a good reason to delete your social media accounts.
But the problem with social media isn’t just the issue of an unhealthy dependence with looking at other peoples lives.
Ads, Ads, Ads
The sheer volume of ads on social media platforms has grown in recent years. It’s estimated that the average person online sees more than 5000 ads every day.
From paid search results, banner ads or paid social media posts… Ads have permeated into our lives more than every before.
For the average person, this means we are bombarded with images telling us to consume, to buy more things and that our happiness depends on a product. And with clever marketing tricks such as the perception of low prices, bargains or limited time offers more of us fall prey to these ads than we might otherwise give ourselves credit for.
Remember I said, you don’t need social media, social media needs you.
The truth here is that social media platforms all make their money from advertising. Your attention is a commodity, and you are the product. Platforms like Facebook have phenomenal insight into your interests and how you behave online, which gives them near unrivalled power to target you with ads.
Although this may seem innocent enough, its been shown that Facebook misinformation and paid posts have been instrumental in the rise of far right movements such as MAGA/Trump and Brexit.
Why you should delete your social media accounts
Do you need social media? Does your life depend on being able to access Facebook or TikTok? Unless you’re an influencer, probably not, right?
The defence for many is that people use social media to stay in touch with friends and family.
But most people use other channels for this, including messaging apps, emails and conference calling software like Zoom or Facetime.
if you were to delete your social media accounts right now, who would you not be able to contact ever again? If there is someone you truly wanted to maintain contact with, you could probably get their email or phone number.
Putting it simply, no-one needs social media to stay in contact with anyone.
But what about being part of your community or friends circle? Again, chances are you don’t need to rely on a social media platform for this. You can create an email group or use messaging apps to manage meetups.
The main reason to delete your social media is that it has been shown to be hugely damaging to mental health. By taking away this distorted window on the world, you’re removing this damaging influence.
How to get off social media
For some, the best way to get away from social media is to go full cold turkey. This means uninstalling the apps immediately and even deactivating your account, so that you can’t access easily.
Yes, this is an extreme way to do it, and it can be easier to go step by step with a digital detox.
Schedule a few days a week when you don’t use social media, or better still, where you don’t use the internet.
Aim to use this time to do something else fun, like a hobby, meeting friends, reading a book or watching a film. Once you’ve grown used to the sensation of not checking social media regularly, perhaps after a few weeks, you can consider increasing the amount of time you spend away from these sites.
It’s true that the internet is used for almost everything these days, including music, movies and more.
But by weaning ourselves off social media, we can start to reconnect with our surroundings, our friends and family and even what we really want from life.
If you’re planning to disconnect from social media, or delete your social accounts, let us know your experiences below!