I’ll admit it. I used to be extremely addicted to social media. Upon reflection it’s super cringe and embarrassing.
I remember waking up and scrolling through Facebook and Instagram as the first thing I did upon opening my eyes. The worst part is I’m not even that popular on social media. On Facebook I would just watch these little 2–5 minute video clips that a few people Facebook friends kept sharing. On Instagram I would be lurking on my feed but also looking at random things via the explore page. It would be 30 minutes to an hour of every morning doing this mindless wasteful routine.
Sounds bad right?
That’s not even all of it. Facebook and Instagram were two of the culprits but there was also Reddit. I had to check a bunch of different subreddits every morning. Add that on top of my 30 minutes to an hour that I’ve already wasted. Oh, and I did this at night before bed too. Even if it’s after my supposed bedtime.
You’re probably assuming that this made me mentally unhealthy. And your assumption is correct. It took me a while to be aware that I was severely damaging my own mental health. When I finally became aware, I reacted strongly and went cold turkey for a few months. I deleted all the social media apps on my phone that involved a news feed.
I eventually re-activated my social media usage, but it took a lot of changes to make it sustainable.
Rebuilding Healthy Social Media Habits
In order to establish healthy social media habits, we have to start from scratch. The easiest way to do this for most people is to do what I did and go cold turkey for a few months from social media. This will give your mind a blank slate to start with. It’s moving from a crowded polluted city to a retreat in the woods filled with fresh air and nature.
Using Hobby Dedicated Lurker Accounts
Twitter is my favorite social media platform. Specifically through Tweetbot for iOS. It’s because I don’t follow anyone I know personally. All my follows are for hobbies and people who share good educational information.
Reddit is another platform where this works perfectly. I unsubscribe from default subreddits and only subscribe to the ones that feed my niche hobbies or interests. This has 10X’ed my experience.
When we have hobby dedicated accounts, it’s best to stay in lurk mode. Anonymity is a luxury and you can always follow the same people and pages on another account if you want to be interactive.
Avoid Main Feeds and Explore Pages
This is probably one of the most essential parts to maintaining your sanity on social media. It’s even worse when I’m having a conversation about Pokemon with a friend in real life and next thing you know I’m seeing ads in my feed and posts on my explore page related to Pokemon.
Avoid the main news feed and explore page. These algorithms are good and they’ll help you discover way too many things you didn’t know you wanted. It not only saves your sanity, it will also save you tremendous amounts of time. I can’t tell you how many pointless rabbit holes I’ve avoided just by doing this.
Purge When Necessary
There will be times where you realize that you’re spending way too much time on social media. The brain’s impulse solution is to tell itself that it’s going to use it less. The actual responsible and healthy thing to do is to actually delete the apps and possibly your accounts.
If you’re having trouble with the concept of purging, just realize that social media is always going to be there. Nobody is going to miss you. Seriously!
Me and so many other people I know personally have purged social media multiple times and have come back happier each time.
Incorporating these habits have made me enjoy social media way more than I have before. It’s also made me productive and more in tuned with my interests.
With healthy social media habits, these powerful platforms become tools to accentuate our life instead of prisons for our attention.