After I got home from my last trip abroad, I deactivated my Facebook account. It had been contributing to a negative state of mind for a few months, so I knew it had to go. While my Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat accounts are still active, I typically don’t have them installed on my phone, and I try to avoid spending time on them as much as possible.
Here are the biggest benefits I’ve found since minimizing social media’s influence on my life.
1) Social media might make you more depressed
Studies have linked social media use to higher rates of depression, and I certainly found this to be the case in my own life. Even though I’ve been off of Facebook for a few months, I know that an extended session on Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest can make me feel discontented and unhappy.
While there are things I don’t have or can’t afford, and sometimes other people’s lives look very different from mine in a way I’m envious of, when I don’t focus on those things, I am a lot happier.
2) I have more free time
TV and the internet are such massive time sinks. During my last trip in the UK, I didn’t have my laptop with me, and I was astonished how freeing it was to not be on my computer all the time. I watched TV now and then in my hotels, but overall I had much more time to work on hobbies and do things I was actually interested in instead of just turning my brain off and watching a show or scrolling through Facebook.
Over the course of my month-long trip, I had time for the following activities that I almost never did back home:
- Writing in a journal each day
- Reading two classic books (The Scarlet Pimpernel and A Room with a View)
- Making a cross-stitch bookmark
- Practicing taking photos
- Going to bed early
Now that I’m back home, I try to fill my evenings by spending time with friends, being active, drawing, or reading instead of being online. I feel a lot better about myself when I’m investing time in my talents and hobbies instead of feeling like I’ve wasted it on Facebook.
I’m also more productive at work, since social media isn’t there to distract me.
3) Friends text me instead
I was concerned I would miss out on events that are posted on Facebook, but my schedule has been busier than ever. I let my closest friends know that I wasn’t on Facebook anymore, and they text me whenever I am invited to something (or send a Snapchat, which is why I haven’t gotten rid of that app entirely).
Generally, when I see friends or family throughout the week (at church, class, etc.), I find out what they have going on that week and see if there’s anything I can join them for.
I also keep an eye out for local events on posters and billboards that look entertaining, and I join email lists for groups I’m interested in.
4) I’m more grateful for what I have
When I’m not constantly playing the social media comparison game or checking up on people I envy, I feel good about my own life. I am able to focus on ways I want to improve rather than on ways I feel I can never measure up. I appreciate my friends and family, the city I live in, and my work more because I am enjoying them for what they are and not how they compare or look to others.
I think social media can be a valuable tool for some purposes, but having gotten rid of it, I don’t miss it at all. I am also meeting more and more people who have given it up like I did. Have you tried giving up social media? What was your experience, or what’s holding you back?
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