Taking a social media detox for a month really opened my eyes to the feelings and motivations I had using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Here’s what living without social media for a month is like.
Most people won’t admit how much social media means, or has meant, to them. For me, social media WAS a huge part of my life since 2008. I’ve built multiple businesses using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms to garner attention, build community and generate revenue.
Now, more than ever, I believe we all need to take control of how we use social media platforms instead of letting them control us.
I don’t know how much you’ve used social media sites and apps over the years, but for me, after six years of HEAVY social media use (read: nearly every waking hour of every single day) it was time for a break.
- I was fed up with feeling like I could never put down my phone.
- I was tired of “creating content” all the time.
- I felt myself becoming cynical and even angry with people I was following.
- I wanted to regain my free time AND my mental health.
- Maybe you’re experiencing these same feelings? If YES, then keep reading…
For 30 days, I quit social media cold turkey and implemented a self-imposed detox.
Should you do a social media detox starting today? If you’re reading this article, you probably already know the answer to that question. 😉
Without a doubt, doing my first social media detox (which you’ll read about below) changed my life for the better. Let me repeat that: Taking a break from social media changed my life. I want you to experience that same feeling I had.
The following is a daily journal I kept on the notes app on my iPhone during the 30-day social media detox.
If you want to skip the journal, click here to jump to my final thoughts (and recommended social media detox tools).
Day One of living without social media:
My morning ritual had changed in previous months from waking up and checking all social networks and email, to only checking Instagram. But on this day, I didn’t even touch my phone and went straight to making coffee. Normally I’d stand in the kitchen, scrolling through feeds and clicking notifications, but on this day I thumbed through The Essential Calvin and Hobbes (my form of meditation). I felt the boyish smile on my own face as I flipped the pages of one of my favorite books. From there, it was time to go to my upstairs office and pull the plug.
As I sat down on my giant blue yoga ball and flipped open my Macbook, I placed my coffee on my desk and grabbed my iPhone. I swiped it open, stared at the social media icons littered across the Home screen and pressed my finger on one of them. The icons started to shake and the little “x” bubbles appeared. With a confident ferocity I removed Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vine, Pinterest, Google+ (although never used) and finally Instagram from my iPhone. None of the apps were opened before deleting, they were simply removed (thus also removing any lingering push notifications I’d get on my phone). This would be the first time since 2008 that I wouldn’t have the Twitter and FB apps on my iPhone.
From there, I closed my phone and moved to my laptop. I moved my mouse to my Bookmark Bar in Google Chrome and deleted the shortcuts to FB and Twitter (the only social sites in my toolbar). I typed my Facebook URL into the address bar and quickly navigated to my Settings, while opening another tab to Google “How to turn off all Facebook notifications.” Ten seconds later I had turned off email notifications. I closed those tabs and moved to Twitter. One click to Settings and another click later, email notifications were turned off for Twitter as well.
All notifications were turned off. All apps were removed. And I felt an immediate feeling of freedom living without social media.
It was as though I’d lifted a 900-pound silverback gorilla from my back. I could feel myself wanting to go to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, especially on this day because I had just relaunched my personal website the day before (the timing was not only impeccable, it was planned).
After what felt like a few grueling hours, I had spent 30 minutes answering emails. One of my first realizations was just how much time can be wasted browsing social networks without knowing it. I could feel myself wanting to sneak a peek at Facebook, so I decided to get up from my desk and run an errand.
You’d think getting in a car would be an escape from social media and technology, but most of us don’t even realize how much we’re checking things while driving. I probably glanced down at my phone 20 times during the course of an eight minute drive. Then I hit a stoplight. Like a drug addict reaching for his/her fix, I scooped my phone up from the cupholder and swiped it open. It wasn’t until I was staring at a barren Home screen, devoid of red notification icons, that I realized what I was doing. I closed the phone and put it back in the cupholder. As I moved my gaze from the center console to the front windshield I took notice of how beautiful of a day it was. Not a single cloud in the sky and the trees on the sides of the road slowing swaying back and forth in a cool Florida breeze. I rolled down the windows and took the moment of beauty in, completely understanding how often I take for granted amazing weather and a moment of stillness.
Making my way back home I decided to swing through Starbucks to grab a cup of coffee. After placing my order in the drive-thru lane, I happened to look in the sideview mirror and take notice of the lady behind me. From the time I pulled forward from the drive thru speaker, I barely saw her eyes come up from her phone one time. Not while she placed her order. Not while she pulled around a tight corner. Not even while waiting in line. It was at that moment I decided to pay for her drink. Selfishly it wasn’t even because I wanted to make her day better, but I did it in hopes that she’d look up from her phone and acknowledge the gesture (or heck, just something else in the world). I paid for the drinks, pulled up, watched her take her [free] drink and was shocked. Not once did her demeanor change or her laser-vision locked on her phone. I shrugged my shoulders and drove home.
The remainder of the day was filled with answering emails, writing a few articles and little fixes with my new website. Typically I close my email inbox at multiple times throughout the day to focus. On this day I caught myself checking email on my phone more often than normal.
The first day of my detox ended with a feeling of relief and freedom. I was relieved that I hadn’t caved and secretly checked one of my social accounts. And I had a sense of freedom from the shackles of notifications and rabbit holes of links, photos and feeds.
Random fun note: My iPhone battery was at 52% at the end of the day. Prior to that day, I hadn’t come close to going even half a day without needing to plug my phone in and charge it.
I woke up in the morning and reached for my phone. Again, my ritual had been to scroll through my Instagram feed upon waking up. I swiped my phone open only to remember Instagram was no longer there. I don’t recall how long it was, but I stared at my home screen in bewilderment for quite awhile. What else can I do on my phone? I thought to myself. I checked ESPN.com on Safari and snuck a quick peek at my emails. I felt dirty for looking at my emails.
I got up and started my day like the previous one; making coffee and reading Calvin and Hobbes. When my coffee was done I headed to my desk and opened up my email (now with less guilt). I had quite a few emails from people who were interested in my social media detox. Funny enough, multiple people sent me the “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?” YouTube video:
I was about 20 seconds in before realizing I had gone to YouTube, a site I was going to stay off for the month. Crap! I felt dirty again.
This brought up a conversation with my wife about YouTube being part of the detox. I decided I would finish watching that video because it was outstanding. But after that, I would abstain from YouTube, mostly due to the time-suck of it.
Throughout the day it felt like things had slowed down considerably. It just seemed like I had much more time than normal. This would become a recurring theme of the 30 days.
This day brought about the first big takeaway from my detox:
So often in my social media life I kid myself into thinking I don’t care how much response something I post gets. Often times I’ll write and rewrite a status update or tweet many times, hoping that my cleverness, insightfulness or humor will get more attention.
We all do it. We’ll take a photo of something, look at it, not like it and take another (or 10 others). We want to capture the perfect moment or share the wittiest update. All because we want the most positive response possible. It’s simply human nature and what social media has done to amplify the feelings of acceptance. I could already feel the freedom from worrying about posting something and hoping it would get Likes or Retweets.
Today was the first day I was acutely aware of just how many email notifications I get from social media. One of my email inboxes, which usually has 50-100 messages in it per day was dead quiet. Not a single email came to that inbox. It was shocking when I realized how much of my attention and mental energy probably got sucked away every day just because of that inbox.
I was also noticeably happier today too. Not that I’m normally unhappy, but I often feel stressed or strained. I could sense myself feeling happier (if that makes sense).
This day was a Saturday, one I spent the majority of cleaning and organizing my house. On most Saturdays I try to stay off the Internet, but it rarely happens. This day I was fairly busy, so my phone and laptop were mostly left untouched.
There was a moment later in the day when I finally made the decision to get rid of my entire DVD collection (over 350 DVDs). I took a before and after photo of my DVD shelf. I wanted to share my big decision to let go, only to think to myself: Who cares? I mean, I guess I could inspire someone else who’s holding onto to something that doesn’t have much value anymore. But instead, I kept the photos for my own memories and moved on.
As a quick aside, 350 DVDs being sold to MovieStop are only worth $490 in store credit or $225 in cash. I chose the cash. Also, the process of selling this many DVDs took about four hours, which was about three hours and 58 minutes longer than I wanted to be standing in a MovieStop store without anything to distract me on my phone.
This was the first day my iPhone felt more like a brick in my pocket than a time-wasting device. I honestly couldn’t even think of anything else to do on my phone but keep refreshing my email. It’s kind of silly in retrospect since I had the entire Internet at my fingertips, but all I could think about was wasting time on social media sites.
Sundays are the days I sit on the couch for 90% of the day. I’m a huge NFL fan, especially NFL RedZone. Normally I’d tweet something to show my support for the ailing Jacksonville Jaguars, but on this day I simply kept it to myself.
I did get an email from a longtime IWearYourShirt community member named Joby. He’s a Pittsburgh native and emailed me a tweet he posted talking trash to me (since the Steelers were playing the Jaguars). I loved his commitment to talking trash and emailed him back some emojis or something silly.
I miss Instagram. It’s the only social media site that I keep wishing I could check. I think that’s because there’s almost zero negativity, complaining or criticism in my photo feed. Instead, it’s just beautiful landscapes, cars, people doing cool stuff and random food and art I love. I will definitely be back on Instagram immediately after this detox is over.
A Monday, typically my most active day on social media, was interesting.
I crafted my weekly newsletter to my email list (an explanation of my 30-day social media detox). Normally my email gets posted on my blog and I share it via Twitter and Facebook. On this day, my email was published on my blog and that was it.
I usually receive 5-10 replies to my weekly emails. This email received 72 replies. Many people had no clue I was doing a 30-day social media detox. Even though I’d posted it on all my social accounts the previous week, this goes to show the limited reach of a single update on Twitter or Facebook.
I spent quite a bit of time replying to emails, almost all of them encouraging. Multiple people said they were going to start a detox of their own (though only one person was willing to commit to 30 days).
One thing I did notice myself doing way more than normal on this day was checking my website’s traffic and my MailChimp analytics. Truthfully, I rarely ever checked either of those things. I could feel these becoming the new vanity metrics, replacing likes, comments, favorites, etc. I did my best to catch myself refreshing these accounts and moving my attention elsewhere.
Most Mondays end with the feeling of hoping for more. Hoping more people would have enjoyed my weekly newsletter. Hoping more people would have liked it on Facebook. Hoping more people would have tweeted at me about the content. I was actually perfectly happy with the response and enjoyed not worrying (as much) about what people thought.
Day Seven, one week living without social media:
One week into my detox, an experience on this day would lead to one of my biggest takeaways about my current disdain with social media.
While driving to get coffee, my wife checked her Instagram account and asked me if I knew the name of someone who had followed her. The name wasn’t familiar, but upon further investigation it was some Internet Marketer that had reached out to me in the past. While looking at this person’s Instagram profile we noticed he followed over 6,000 people but only had 800 followers. I completely realize that’s a stupid thing to be upset about, but it really irks me when people do that on social media.
It didn’t stop there though; the bio this person wrote was awful. He was a self-proclaimed “social media maven, chief defier of gravity…” and some other nonsense. I felt myself getting angry reading his bio and seeing his overly self-promotional and braggadocios photo updates.
Then it hit me: Before the advent of social media, people like this couldn’t weasel their way into our personal space and lives.
Social media has allowed people to push their agendas and put their messages in front of us, with barely any way to avoid it.
This was, without a doubt, one of my biggest problems with social media. I may not create projects or ideas that everyone agrees with, but I certainly do my best to not spam other people with them or to be overly pushy. The people who do spam, who do brag, who are sleazy, can get their messages in front of us, whether we like it or not.
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I woke up with a massive headache. I don’t ever get headaches, and fun fact, have never once had a fever in my life. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the detox, but the timing was certainly noteworthy.
There was a task on my to-do list that’s been bumped for months (writing an e-book). I just kept dreading doing it. Today I sat down and was able to knock 2/3’s of the task out without taking a break. There wasn’t a moment I felt I needed to stop to check FB or Twitter. I was able to focus completely on that task and get the majority of it done in one sitting (which took about two hours of writing).
Proud of myself for making progress on that task, I decided not to overdue it and shut my laptop. One of my goals during this 30-day detox was to read two books a week. I cracked open my first book since the detox started and began reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.
Interestingly enough, I realized I had purchased The War of Art a year prior and hadn’t once looked at it. I read about 100 pages, enjoying Mr. Pressfield’s commentary on resistance. It felt fitting and timely with what I was doing. And I felt great that I had overcome my resistance to taking a break from social media. So meta!
Random thought of the day: Could I sell my Facebook account? Would it be worth something? Is that stupid? Answer: Yes, stupid idea.
No more headache. Phew.
Each week I write an article for Inc.com. This was the first week I think I’ve ever looked at the amount of shares the article received. Normally I write the article, share it on social and go about my day. Without social sharing and the conversation that ensues, I felt a little void. I guess I tried to fill that void by seeing how many shares the article received throughout the day.
Today was another day I looked at my website analytics more times than I’d like to admit.
With six Skype calls on my calendar, this day flew by fairly quickly. It was fun to get asked over and over again about the detox and how I was “surviving without social media.” Kind of funny to think that was a serious question from more than one person.
On one call I did have someone say, “I don’t think I could give up Facebook for even a week.” My immediate thought was: “Then you need to give up Facebook more than you know!” I didn’t actually say that, although I wanted to.
Normally I write my weekly newsletter for my list on Sunday or Monday. Instead, I found myself motivated to write it on this day (Friday). I was also able to write the first draft of the article distraction-free, meaning I didn’t stop writing to check any website, email or even my phone.
Just ten days in to my detox I started to feel like my attention span increasing and the length of time I could focus on one task was greatly improving.
Random aside: Jacksonville got its first Trader Joe’s and I took a trip to check it out. Normally I would have shared a photo on Instagram or Facebook holding some random vegetable or something. I didn’t even think about taking a photo, even when a UPS guy came through the door with multiple large Amazon.com boxes (odd??).
Spent most of the day dealing with Craigslist buyers. So while I was on my phone a bunch, it was almost exclusively to answer questions about the random crap I was selling.
Toward the end of the day I reflected on my social media break. At first I felt grateful that I could create the opportunity to do this, but then I wondered a few things:
- Why the heck do I need to be grateful for taking a break from social networks??
- Is it stupid to make such a big deal of this?
- Will other people care?
I thought about those questions a lot before realizing that social media had taken some control from me. Not just in algorithm changes, although those suck, but in that I felt like I was a slave to them and the conversation or feedback that ensued. I want to be in control of how I feel using something or doing something, not the other way around.
This day ended in a swirl of thoughts and questions, if you couldn’t tell.
Another Sunday. Another day for lounging on the couch watching football. GO JAGS!
I mentioned it on Day Three, but I am absolutely much happier and less stressed. I didn’t land any big business or launch a successful project. I simply removed stuff from my daily routine that negatively affected my thoughts and feelings.
Monday email newsletter went out and I immediately checked the MailChimp report. I probably checked it 3-4 more times throughout the day, again, way more than normal (most times I don’t check it at all).
A random LinkedIn invite email wound up in my inbox. I laughed to myself, realizing LinkedIn wasn’t even on my radar as something to take a break from (due to never, ever, ever using it).
I did miss an opportunity to share an overheard comment (OH): “He’s dressed like a lesbian from the waist down.”
Day Fourteen, a huge increase in productivity starts from my social media detox:
This day was probably one of the most productive days I’ve had in an incredibly long time. The things I accomplished:
- Edited two 30 minute videos (about 90 minutes spent on each)
- Edited four 5 minute videos (about 15 minutes spent on each)
- Troubleshooted issues for a SaaS product I’m building (including 10 or so in-depth responses)
- Finished writing the e-book I mentioned on Day Eight
- Wrote the first draft of my weekly Inc.com article (a day earlier than normal)
- Opened my email inbox only three times throughout the day (it’s normally 10-15)
- Outlined an idea for a new project (500 word doc)
- Played in a YMCA league basketball game
- Cooked dinner with my wife and watched The Voice (yeah, #TeamAdam)
It’s safe to say I had more will power and motivation on this day than any I can remember in a very long time. Not once throughout the day did I feel stressed or like I had too many things to do. Everything just kind of clicked into place and got done.
I’d noticed it a few times before, but on this day I realized that because I deleted the FB app from my phone and it was connected to my Contacts, it removed a ton of contacts from my list. Some of which were in my phone before the FB app was ever installed (like my Mom, my GF, and some other friends I text message with often). Not only did this suck because it seemed like a weird security flaw, but I also had to say “sorry, this # isn’t in my phone, who dis?” on a few occasions. (I later found out this was an iOS 8 setting in Contacts Group settings).
Also today I went to someone’s personal website and they had not one, not two, not three, but four separate pop up boxes on their website to try to get me to sign up for their email list. Seriously, I get it, email marketing is important, but if you need to ask 4 times (abrasively), I’m not interested in whatever emails you’re going to spam me with. Ugh, sorry, had to rant about this somewhere.
That brings up an interesting thought about not really having an outlet to rant or share frustrations when not using social media. Maybe I should start a diary? Or just keep writing things in my notes app on my iPhone?
It was bound to happen: I had to login to FB today.
But wait! It was for business reasons, not my own desires…
I needed to give someone access to my FB Ads account and didn’t feel comfortable just giving them my login info. With the stealth of a leopard stalking it’s prey in the jungle, I logged into FB via the ads URL. In a matter of seconds and just a few clicks, my task was done. Unfortunately, the red notification numbers caught my eye. I didn’t click them, but I felt like I had cheated myself.
Also, I wanted to upvote something on Product Hunt and realized I couldn’t do it without being logged into Twitter (or having the Twitter app installed on my phone). Having already felt like a “cheater” today, I decided not to login and the upvote wouldn’t happen on this day.
From my Monday email, one of the replies was someone who started doing their own 30-day social media detox. I enjoyed this line from their email:
It made me happy to see someone else being positively impacted by taking a break from social media. Then I thought about how happy I was that they were happy. So much happiness!
Attention span increasing noticeably and not feeling like I need to check other things while working. I actually didn’t remember to add an entry about this day in my notes until the morning after Day Seventeen. That’s how focused I was on getting work done and being present in other things I was doing.
Day Eighteen & Nineteen:
Lots of football and relaxing over the weekend. Jaguars finally got a win!!! Peyton Manning broke the TD record in the NFL. Both things I would have shared on social media, but instead, I just enjoyed them happening and went on with my life.
Wrote an update post about this social media detox for my newsletter and blog.
Also, I downloaded the Angry Birds Transformers app. That was a bad idea as it was super addictive, hah. After a few hours of non-stop play I deleted the app.
Decided to have a relaxing Monday. So often Monday’s are packed with work and are exhausting. Finished up my weekly email, posted it as a blog post, answered a handful of emails and spent the other parts of the day reading The Circle by Dave Eggers (a book that was sent to me by my buddy DJ).
Actually started reading The Circle over the weekend, but read almost 200 pages on Monday. Amazingly well-timed read, but that’s also because DJ knew I was on this detox. I really really enjoyed it and couldn’t stop reading, which never ever happens for me.
Fun fact: This is the first fiction book I’ve read since James and the Giant Peach when I was a little kid (not kidding).
Day Twenty One, deciding to remove social media apps from my phone for good:
Recorded an interview with Dave Delaney for his podcast. We talked about my book, but more timely, my social media detox. One big question that popped up, and one that’s been asked by many people via email: What will I do on social media after the detox is up?
I don’t want to get sucked back into social expectations and notification addiction.
Yesterday’s email update talked about my big problem with social media (which I mentioned in my Day Seven update). The first clear thought I had about what to do was a weekly update on FB. Maybe it’s Friday morning and references my week and anything I want to highlight or share? This won’t work for twitter, so I still am on the fence there. I will, however, use Instagram again (as mentioned a few times).
As of right now, I’m 98% certain I won’t put the FB or Twitter apps back on my phone again. I don’t want to feel tied to them or get back into old habits.
Fun aside: Got a new Kindle in the mail today. While I love reading paperback books, I’m also trying to be more of a minimalist. My first Kindle book? Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull.
Day Twenty Two:
Had an idea strike!
I was thinking about the second season of the podcast I co-host (update: this podcast has been retired) and how we could generate more revenue from it. The go-to (and we did this with our first season) is to get episode sponsors. While this is all well and good, it’s not great or passive income. In a matter of a few hours, I outlined the idea I had in a Google Doc, mocked it up in Photoshop and shared it with my co-host Paul Jarvis. We’re both really excited about the idea.
Didn’t even really think about social media at all. Was focused on working and my big idea.
Amazing to think it took only 21 days to rid myself of something I couldn’t imagine living without. I felt an entirely new perspective on my digital life.
I think James Clear would be proud of me. This thought and realization came after reading his weekly email he sends (typically about forming habits).
Day Twenty Three:
Thought about this a few times before, but it became more clear today: I was (and many of us are) addicted to social media in the same ways people are addicted to alcohol, drugs, and other vices.
It may sound silly to compare social media abuse to drug or alcohol abuse, but I firmly believe it’s very similar at this point. Some recent emails and conversations I’ve had with people about them doing their own social media detox often had things said like this:
- I could take a break from social media whenever I want to, I just don’t need a break
- I only use social media to waste time
- I’m not addicted to social media because I only check it a few times per day
- I get all my work done, so I don’t need a break from social media
- It’s not hurting me to be on Facebook all day
Those are real responses from multiple people I’d emailed with or talked to during the month. It’s kind of scary how much those same statements reflect the telltale signs of people who have addiction to other things (that we’ve had years of experience dealing with).
Addiction is a scary thing. It’s definitely not something any of us want to admit to. Taking this break from social media has more than proven to me that I was addicted to Facebook and Twitter. Was it an unhealthy addiction? I feel happier, of clearer thought and less stressed out. So yeah, I’d say it was unhealthy.
Day Twenty Four:
Had coffee with a friend. Facetimed with my brother-from-another-mother Ben. Spent the evening eating dinner with friends.
I felt really grateful for all of these interactions. They felt more meaningful to me. None of them needed to be shared on a social network or documented outside of these notes. These were just moments in life I really enjoyed.
Day Twenty Five & Twenty Six:
I finished the book The Circle. Wow. What a great book. And for me to finish a 500-page book in less than a week? That’s almost a miracle.
I have a ton of thoughts about Dave Eggers’ book. I don’t think they necessarily fit here, but it does bring up the discussion of privacy and are we too connected in life? For me, I’m not too concerned about my digital privacy. But I’m not sure I want to get any more connected than I already am.
Was excited that I’d be able to use Instagram again in less than a week.
Day Twenty Seven:
Sent out my weekly newsletter. Finished up some odds and ends.
Realized it had been two full days since plugging my iPhone in to charge it. That’s unheard for me. I can’t ever remember going one full day without plugging my phone in for a charge.
Tomorrow starts a two week vacation with my wife and my dog Plaxico.
Day Twenty Eight:
Drove to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. It couldn’t have been more perfect weather for the trip. The trees along the highway were beautiful shades of yellow, orange, red and green. I can’t remember an 8+ hour drive feeling so short.
Had a conversation with my wife that was important. I don’t want to make people feel like I’m judging them for using social media. I also don’t want people to think I think social media is all bad.
Like anything else, I think social media is great in moderation. It’s helped me do some amazing things and meet some awesome people. But, I do hope people reflect on their usage of social media and think about taking a break, if nothing else just to see how it makes them feel.
We arrived at our beautiful cabin in the woods right at sunset. I wrote these notes realizing I hadn’t taken a single picture of the journey or the place we were staying. Previously I would have probably taken 20 or more.
Day Twenty Nine:
Spent most of the day writing, reading Creativity, Inc and thinking about what my decision would be about returning to social media and my usage schedule. The more I think about returning to social media the less I want to think about it. Does that make sense? I have no idea.
Wrote over 5,000 words on this day. These were spread across my weekly Inc article, my next newsletter and a random paid article. Not once did I feel distracted or wanting to stop writing to check emails, my phone, etc.
I also made some white bean chili in a slow cooker. I tried to make it “healthy” by not adding too many ingredients to it. It tasted like dog food. You’re welcome for that bonus info.
It’s amazing how much clearer I’m thinking. Along with a bunch of writing and emails, I outlined an entirely new business idea and sent it off to a developer friend for feedback.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had so much clarity and focus in my thoughts. The only thing I can equate it to would be “getting in the zone” in sports.
Whenever I sit down to write, I can do it without the feeling of distraction or procrastination. Whenever I answer emails I can tear through them without breaks. Even during Skype and phone calls I don’t have any urges to do other things (even during less than exciting calls).
Again I’m thinking about what I’ll do when the detox is over. I don’t want to regress back to into old addictive habits.
Day Thirty One of living without social media (the last day):
Still on vacation, I started to work on this very post. The more I thought about writing it, the more I thought about the response it would get on social media. How would that affect me? Would I be able to fight the urge to constantly check responses, likes, comments, etc?
I decided to stop writing this post for a week. I didn’t want to force myself to write it and share it just because that’s what I thought everyone would want. Instead, I worked on it here and there, finishing it at my own pace.
I really value taking control of my time.
Hey, that’s me and my wife Caroline enjoying a social-media-free experience at the beach.
Not being on social media for a month really opened my eyes to the feelings and motivations I have using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Immediately after my first 30-day social media detox I felt a sense of freedom. To me, that’s a huge takeaway. It literally felt like ripping shackles off my mind and body.
Since the initial writing of this article, I’ve completely quit Facebook, am on the verge of quitting Twitter, and will probably stop using Instagram as well. I simply feel like a happier, more productive person without social media dictating my life.
I got tired of people showing up in my feeds, completely disrupting my life. I bet you’re tired of that too.
Even with filtering, muting, and blocking on social media, you can’t avoid the modern-day telemarketer (or crazy family member who can’t stop reading conspiracy theories and sharing them). If you have a profile on any network you’re incredibly likely to have people push their messages in your face. I know I want less of those situations to happen in my life.
- We all care what people think of us.
- We all want to feel accepted.
- We all want to feel liked.
- But social media is corrupting our minds and we have to take back control.
Social media multiplies those thoughts and feelings without us even realizing it. It’s not healthy to always be under the knife of criticism. In a digital world, we need a break from having our lives judged and commented on (often times by complete strangers who we don’t align with).
My productivity, attention span and clarity of thought all increased greatly with living without social media for a month.
I felt like I broke bad habits (refreshing feeds and checking notifications) in a very short period of time. If all of that can be done in just 30 days? Shouldn’t you at least give it a try this week or weekend?
I’m not suggesting you also have to completely quit social media. But I do hope if you’re reading this you’ll think about taking a break from social media to see how you feel. Start with a weekend or a week, but aim for 30 days.
Give yourself a chance to feel how I felt after just one month.
Social Media Detox Tools
I’ve found a few free helpful tools (and had a few recommended) to keep you off social media if you embark on a detox of your own:
- StayFocusd Chrome Extension – This is the perfect tool if you use Google Chrome as your web browser and want to remove the temptation of checking Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Facebook News Feed Eradicator Chrome Extension – This is less about your full detox, and more just keeping your usage of Facebook more sane by removing the News Feed and replacing it with a quote.
- Self Control App – A Mac App that let’s you block certain websites (similar to StayFocusd, but not just for Google Chrome).
- OurPact – Block social media apps from your phone! Made for parents to control their kid’s phone usage, but good for adults who can’t help themselves.