Social media can be utterly overwhelming at times – and nobody is immune from its negative effects.
It seems like everywhere we turn, we’re inundated with heartbreak, trauma, and the overall sense that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
People who spend most of their time on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter often report a fair amount of anxiety and depression.
And, really, can you blame them?
When scrolling your feeds, you’ll undoubtedly come across images or videos that you can’t unsee, posts that are emotionally triggering, and adverts that make you feel inadequate.
Here are some of the key benefits that come from taking a break from social media, or even quitting altogether.
1. You won’t be able to compare yourself negatively to the posts of others.
It’s important to keep in mind that many people are very careful about what they post on their social media profiles.
They only wish to share the most positive aspects of their life.
That seemingly effortless selfie that someone posts – which might make others feel ugly and inadequate in turn – is likely one of about 100 that they snapped.
And then it was manipulated digitally with various filters until it looked absolutely amazing.
The oh-so adorable photos of your friend’s happy, soundly sleeping, utterly content baby that make you feel like a horrible parent?
Yeah, those are the best of the best: likely a few of thousands taken when the wee one is shrieking, puking, and keeping the family awake for days at a time.
Many people who scroll through Instagram for inspiration forget just how much effort goes into making those images look perfect.
Furthermore, they generally don’t think about all the time and resources that go into various projects.
This can result in the aforementioned feelings of inadequacy – that their own creativity, culinary preparations, physical workouts, etc. will never result in anything as good as what other people are posting.
They’ll sabotage their own efforts or give up pastimes that they love because really, what’s the point when everyone else is so much better than they are?
Stop stop stop. Right now.
If this has been your mindset at all, take a big step back and remember what a spectacular, gifted, shining star you are.
You can’t be flawed or “not good enough” because there is only one YOU.
As such, you can’t be compared to anyone else: you’re freaking awesome and perfect exactly because of who or how you are right now.
Put your phone down and go for a walk, clear your head, and never mind what anyone else is doing, wearing, thinking, or saying.
Just celebrate you for a little while, okay? Okay.
2. You may feel less lonely and depressed.
A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology showed a link between social media use and loneliness and depression.
You might feel like you’re missing out on knowing all the details about what’s going on in everyone else’s lives, but ultimately, do you really need to know all of that?
A lot of people stay on social media because of FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.
They worry that if they’re not kept in the loop, they’ll end up distanced from their community, not invited to functions, etc.
Some people get depressed if they see photos of gatherings that they weren’t invited to.
They feel sad and rejected because they were left out, or that others felt that they just weren’t “good enough” to invite.
Now, a lot of this has to do with unrealistic expectations.
We’re not always going to be invited to every function hosted by every person in our extended social circles.
Just because we’re friends with someone on Facebook, doesn’t mean that they’re obligated to invite us to their wedding.
Some people also get really depressed when those in their social groups all share life experiences that they don’t, or can’t have.
For example, a woman who’s having difficulty conceiving might get depressed that she can’t attend mommy groups with those who used to be her closest friends.
Not only is she struggling with her own fertility journey, but she feels left out by those with whom she thought she had a strong bond.
Thing is, people change a great deal over time, and friendships ebb and flow according to our life experiences.
If you feel that you’re being left out of your social circle, try joining a new one.
There are tons of Meetup groups in just about every niche imaginable, from wild food foraging to blacksmithing, LARPing, winemaking, and more.
Try them out, and you may find that you have a lot more fun and personal fulfillment than you ever could while spending hours scrolling your IG feed.
3. You free yourself from potentially damaging hate speech.
One especially negative aspect of social media is the ever-more-creative hate speech that’s slung around from all directions.
Many people – especially those with anonymous social media accounts – see fit to spew forth truly horrible things at people online that they would likely never, ever say to their faces.
This can range from mocking someone for their personal preferences, to threatening them with violence.
Many people who dare to voice opinions that deviate from the current compulsory narrative find themselves “doxxed”: their personal details are made public, with the vindictive call to action that others contact that person’s place of business, or school, etc. to have them “cancelled.”
Basically, to have a dissenting opinion online may put your entire career, even your life, in jeopardy.
It’s both distressing and depressing to feel that you can’t express your beliefs freely without fear of severe repercussions.
As such, it’s not a far leap to see how someone who witnesses such hate and vitriol online might have a lot of anxiety about potentially being on the receiving end.
Even more damaging is for sensitive people to see so much hate whipping around, and feel like the entire world is just a frothing cesspit.
As you can imagine, this could be particularly daunting for adolescents and teenagers.
Not only are they dealing with their own emotional maesltroms, but when faced with a sea of cruelty and abuse online, they might feel like existence here is just too painful to contend with.
Consider the findings in this 2015 study, which focused on social media’s effects on adolescents’ mental health:
“Daily Social Networking Site (SNS) use of more than 2 hours was independently associated with poor self-rating of mental health, and experiences of high levels of psychological distress and suicidal ideation.”
It’s difficult enough for adults to navigate oceans of hate speech, cruelty, and bullying online, especially if they’re highly sensitive, like empaths…
…imagine what it’s like for a young person who doesn’t have a fully developed idea of how the world works or the right coping mechanisms to deal with what they see.
Social media can be absolutely excruciating, and yet people are expected to tune in and be aware of everything that’s going on in other people’s lives, as well as world news and beyond.
How is that healthy?
4. You’ll feel less overwhelmed and more empowered.
It’s estimated that the average person is exposed to more news in a single day today than a Victorian-era person would have heard about in a year.
Knowing about all the horrible things going on around the world, every hour, of every day, is just too overwhelming.
It makes the world seem like a horrible place, and makes us feel like we’re powerless to do anything to help.
After all, what can we really do in the face of so much pain and destruction?
Sure, awareness is important so we can all support one another toward building a better world, but it’s hard to build up the wherewithal to get anything done when you’re lying on the floor because everything is awful, all the time.
If you’re committed to positive change, but feel overwhelmed by all the ugly, remember the phrase “think globally, act locally.”
Withdraw from too much info about all the horrible crud going on thousands of miles away from you, and focus on your own community.
Where are the difficult spots?
What are your strengths?
How can you help?
Tackle local issues and projects where your input and energy can be used to good effect.
By doing so, you’ll be able to see real change happen, and make a positive impact on those in your extended circle.
The ripple effect will get wider, as everyone who feels better and more empowered around you will help to empower and help others in turn.
And that’s how small efforts result in big, long-lasting, positive change.
5. You won’t judge people harshly for what they post.
It’s surprisingly easy to judge someone for what they share on social media.
An opinion, a photo, a piece of news… even their use (or misuse of hashtags) – they all have the potential to make us think poorly about that person.
We can quickly allow the posts of others to influence how we think and feel about them.
And this is a shame when we might otherwise like someone and enjoy their company.
Just because they expressed support for a cause or political movement that you don’t agree with, doesn’t make them a bad person.
And it doesn’t mean you can no longer get on well with them in the real world.
Quitting social media means you no longer have the opportunity to build up these negative views of friends, family members, or colleagues.
And this can improve your relationships with them in person.
6. Toxic people may give up trying to poison your life.
Before social media really took off, people communicated with friends and families via email, texts, and phone calls.
Now, most people use their online platforms to communicate with others en masse, rather than individually.
When you quit social media, you’re basically out of the loop.
If you step away from these platforms, it’s unlikely that most people you communicate with on a daily basis will go out of their way to keep you informed of everything that’s going on.
After all, it’s easy to publish a post and reply to comments, because they’re all in one space and can be dealt with in one go.
This can be a huge benefit to your overall health and well-being.
If you’re trying to distance yourself from toxic people, a break from social media might free yourself from them for a while.
After all, taking the extra time to keep you engaged in their drama might be too inconvenient for them, so it’ll be easier to just leave you alone.
This works particularly well with narcissists, as they will go after easier targets to get their fill of attention and adoration!
Just don’t announce to them that you’re quitting, as they’ll either take it personally, or consider it a challenge to keep you around/engaged with their personal issues.
How To Quit Social Media, When You’re Ready To Do So
So, are you ready to quit social media?
As you’ve seen here, there are a lot of really good reasons to quit it (or at least take an extended break from it).
Start by timing yourself to determine just how much time you spend on social media on an average day. Then set timers to limit your use.
Reduce that time either every day, or every few days – whatever works best for you.
You’ll undoubtedly discover that you have a fair bit of time to work with, now that you’re not scrolling endlessly.
This time is for you to fill with things that make you happy.
Pick up that creative project that you set aside ages ago.
Go for long walks or bike rides.
Plant a garden.
There are thousands of things you could do that will work wonders for your physical and emotional health.
When you’re ready, feel free to make an announcement on your social media sites to let people know that you’re taking a hiatus.
Give them alternate ways to keep in touch with you, like your email address or phone number, and see what happens.
The people who truly care about you will make a point of keeping in touch with you.
As for the others, well, this is a perfect opportunity to trim your social network down to the essentials, isn’t it?
As a final note, remember that you don’t have to quit entirely if you feel uncomfortable doing so, and you can always go back if you feel like you need or want to.
Make this happen on your own terms, if and when you’re ready to do so.
You may also like (article continues below):
- How Social Media Can Damage Relationships (+ How To Stop It Harming Yours)
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