Social Media Fasting

It was painful at first, like starting a new diet. I was perhaps a bit cranky. But it was necessary.

The Social Media Fast!

Have you ever tried giving up something that you didn't have a healthy relationship with? Well, that was Facebook and Instagram for me. It really started during fall of 2020, when the vast majority of my feed seemed to transform from cute kids, spunky pets, and funny memes to anger, frustration, and negativity over all-things-politics-and-pandemic.

I'm not saying that any of those BIG, complicated, intense emotions were unfounded, I felt them too, but when what's supposed to be relaxing scrolling time lost the relaxation bit, well, it took a toll.

Like with any addiction, and don't kid yourself, scrolling and trolling can be addicting, one has to first realize there's a problem. 

I admit, I found myself being sucked into watching how online arguments would unfold. I didn't dare participate, I just grabbed the proverbial popcorn and let the angst be my entertainment. It was gross. I felt gross. That's when I knew I needed to make a change.

So, on December 31, not as part of any grand New Year's resolution or anything, I decided I would take a little break. I thought I'd stay off through President Biden's inauguration - platforms seemed unusually nasty after the election on both sides of the spectrum. Just a few weeks. It wasn't going to be permanent.

But then something interesting happened: everything felt lighter. Happier. Simpler. 

By mid-January, I'd mostly gotten over missing it, I'd filled the time with some other fun distractions (mostly puzzles and writing) so the fast continued.

Please understand, this is not a judgment on anyone's use of social media. Nor is this a deep-dive into how social media impacts mental health. There are so many positives that can come from the various platforms, like getting blog posts out. :-) But for me, and perhaps for some of you out there, if you notice a negative impact, maybe a break is a good idea. 

If any part of this post tugs at a little part of your heart, here are some simple steps you can take:

  • Check your usage on your phone. If you have an iPhone, you can see how much time you spend on each app by going to Settings - Screen Time - See All Activity - Week or Day.
  • If you are surprised or shocked at how much time you spend scrolling, think about a reasonable limit. Then commit to it. 
  • If you decide to just cut back, be selective with who and what you follow. Choosing where you engage and muting negative voices are things within your power. Use it.
  • Maybe with the family or a group of friends, you can make a fun game out of cutting that time back. I highly recommend prizes. It's way more motivating to change a bad habit when you have incentives and a support system.   
  • Replace scrolling time with something else you love. Phone dates with good friends, a fun house project, one-on-one time with someone special, a new hobby, reading, art, meditation, etc. 
  • WARNING: Quitting cold turkey like I did may lead to withdrawal symptoms...seriously. But you know yourself and maybe a quick rip of the bandaid is the best way for you. Stay strong. 

If you decide you need to take a break from any unhealthy habit, social media included, don't be too hard on yourself. Life surely seems to be more complicated and nuanced and volatile lately, and the need for a little escape is real. My advice: choose your escape wisely.

Sending you love and peace and stamina, friends. 


P.S. If you haven't already, go watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix. It's insightful. 

Photo by Inspa Makers on Unsplash

Holly and Jenn