by Lydia 2MD5 All Posts
There’s a good chance we are all addicted to social media, just in various degrees. I still remember a life without all the colorful social media apps plaguing my phone, back when I was in primary school without a phone to speak of, but even then I was a huge fan of the email and used it nearly every single day to talk to my friends whom I also saw every single day. Now, we just do the same thing, except with more pictures and less words.
But sometimes, enough is enough. If you are like me and have figured out that social media is sucking up all your time and energy that can be better used elsewhere, here are some tips for how to go on a clean break, from a (former) Instagram addict.
- Actually delete the app off your phone. Simply having it physically NOT there on your phone screen helps more than you might think. Out of sight, out of mind. I found that not seeing the app drastically reduced how much I thought about it, and whenever I swiped to unlock I would not automatically be reminded to open it and check for new posts.
- Don’t keep redownloading it. Duh, you say, but it is hard, and I can 100% empathize. For those with great willpower this is a trifle. But for the rest of us with less than ideal discipline, refer to my cheat code (next point).
- Decrease your usage in doses. I found it hard to quit cold turkey right off the bat, so for the first few days (up to 2 weeks) I would instead go on the Instaweb site. But this is the catch: only allow yourself to go on it 1-2 times a day, and for no more than 5 minutes. This isn’t to let you completely catch up on everything you’ve ‘missed out’ on, but just to allow for a small hit of social media, at a glance. I found that it let me use it in a more meaningful way too, as opposed to mindless scrolling: I’d deliberately see the stories or posts from only my favorite accounts, and that was enough to keep me happy. (Another ironic upside to using Instaweb is that the interface really, really sucks compared to the app. The scrolling is funny, stories refresh everytime you finish viewing one, and you can’t check your DMs. You may just be turned off from going on it at all.)
- Have another outlet. One of the biggest drawbacks to quitting Instagram is that you might suddenly find that you have a lot of stray thoughts and pictures that have nowhere to go. We’re used to dumping them all in our own communal sharing space. Find another space that’s best for you- it can be very personal, like starting a small journal, or it can be a designated best friend that you message whatever little (but significant) updates you have that you can’t keep silent about. Or a Tumblr account just to have somewhere to put the photos you’ve taken. It’ll keep you from having to post something on Instagram specifically.
- Download other apps that are more meaningful / educational / fulfilling. Quitting Instagram doesn’t mean you have to stop going on your phone at all. I’m of the opinion that even just doing something on your phone that can in some way improve your life is better than being an addicted viewer. Again, this doesn’t equate to unlimited time on your phone. Do it in moderation and as a coping tool for staying off Insta. Especially during idle moments, like when travelling or in between classes etc. For me, this translated into using the e-books app, language app, and my personal favourite: podcasts, you’re guaranteed to find a topic that you’re interested in listening to. And it’s free!
- In the meantime, get your dose of social interaction in real life. Just because you’re off a social media platform doesn’t mean you suddenly become a couch potato hermit who quakes when she sees real people. Arrange to meet the friends you haven’t seen in a long while, talk to your classmates over lunch- since they don’t have updates from you online!- or go old school: make a call to someone and have a conversation to catch up.
Here are some extra tips from friends who are experts at quitting social media:
- Recognize a good reason to quit and stay focused on that reason
- Quitting takes time, but after a while you will get used to not having it around
- Realize that it doesn’t make a big difference whether you see your friends’ posts or not
After all this, will I go back on Instagram? Of course. But at least I know that I’m fully capable of living without it whenever life calls for it. Give it a go yourself, and maybe you will find that it’s the same for you.