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‘Deleting People Off of Social Media Made Me a Happier Person, and I’m Not Sorry About It’

For a while, I rolled my eyes at the movement to stop using social media,” wrote Bethany Halland in her post on Thrive Global. [1] However, she began to notice how social media affected her life. She wasn’t reading or spending time on hobbies, and she felt isolated from her friends despite staying updated on their lives via posts. This took a toll on her mental health. She struggled with deleting social media, but when she did, she began to feel happier. But there are other ways to reduce social media use without deleting it entirely, such as unfollowing people and accounts that don’t spark joy.

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The Benefits of Deleting Social Media

Halland’s story is one among many as people discover the benefits of quitting social media, permanently or temporarily. After all, social media is a mixed bag. It presents many positive opportunities for keeping in touch with friends, promoting art or businesses, and connecting with people and communities you’d never met otherwise. [2]

But the platforms also come with many pitfalls. People tend to post only flattering depictions of themselves, which can make others feel inadequate and disappointed with their own lives. (This can happen even you know that the depictions aren’t reality.) Social media can give the illusion of social connection while users feel increasingly lonely. It’s designed to be addicting, taking time and energy away from more fulfilling and enjoyable activities. Attention and likes on social media can feel exhilarating but it doesn’t last, leaving users anxious to earn that attention again. And even the most passive of users cannot escape the onslaught of bad news, negativity, and infuriating arguments.

It’s no wonder so many people are deleting social media altogether. Here are five experiences and the benefits they’ve enjoyed since signing off.

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Fanny, 38 – No more “doom-scrolling”

My algorithm was filled with social and political injustices with a spattering of friends’ posts. I was increasingly anxious, constantly refreshing my feed to follow the latest police shooting, COVID death number or how many kids were separated at the border… Without IG, I sleep better, my mind feels lighter. I feel less anxious, less angry, and better able to organize my thoughts around what can be done with regard to social and political injustices rather than just being mad. I feel the gloom and doom is more manageable.[3]

Tate, 21 – Improving mental health

What made me decide to delete my social media was the overwhelming negativity that just seemed to circulate around the apps, Facebook specifically. I deleted it about two weeks ago, after years of being very active and having a lot of friends on the app… My mental health has improved drastically. Although I still spend quite a bit of my time on my phone, as most 21-year-olds do, I find myself not feeling as stressed or pressured when I post things on Reddit.

Jody, 40 – Finding the true friends

“Before I unfollowed everyone on Facebook, I shared a post saying I was deleting everyone and if they wanted to stay in touch they could via Messenger or I could give them my number and we could text. As expected, very few reached out, but I knew those who did were my people, my real circle.”

Justin, 41 – Creating time for hobbies

“I gave up social media for Lent, including Facebook, Instagram, two Twitter accounts, several Discords and a private forum. I was scrolling through all of them endlessly. I’d put down my iPad for the night, go to bed, pick up my iPhone, and just continue browsing crap. I read more books, which was nice, and I finished a couple projects I’d been putting off for too long. I kept in touch with friends mostly via phone calls while walking the dog.”

Mehret 26 – Living in the moment

“Quitting social media was the best decision of my life. It allowed me to live life to the beat of my own drum. It’s a very freeing feeling. When I’m doing things, I don’t care to capture the perfect picture or think about how it will look online. I’m fully present in the moment. Take a break. Social media can wait. Life cannot. Rediscover the pleasures of the offline world.”

Read: Has Social Media Has Created a Generation of Narcissists?

Should You Quit?

Social media is a tool with great potential for good and bad. But make sure you’re using it and it’s not using you. There are many signs that it’s time for a detox — or deleting social media entirely — here are a few:

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  • If you compulsively check your feed and feel anxious when you don’t
  • If social media is taking away from sleep
  • If social media distracts from activities and projects you enjoy
  • If you feel isolated despite many online friends and followers
  • If social media often makes you feel angry, sad, and stressed
  • If you feel like you spend too much time scrolling. (Check the app usage under your phone’s settings. You might be shocked at how long you spend on social media.)

How to Quit or Reduce Social Media Use

Deleting social media entirely may sound like too drastic a step. But there are many other ways to detox. For instance, you can delete the apps from one device, like your phone, while still accessing them from your computer or tablet. This can allow you to become more mindful when you are scrolling. Alternatively, you could delete the apps from all devices for a few weeks and see how that feels. That could cement your decision to delete social media or pull you out of the habit so you could set healthy guidelines before going back online. 

Another option is to reduce the number of social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Tumblr, Reddit, and Pinterest all have different formats and present different kinds of connection and entertainment. Pick the ones with the most meaning and benefits for you and delete the rest. While you’re at it, Marie Kondo your feed. In other words, be choosy about who you follow. Unfollow any account that brings in negativity and bitterness, and keep the ones that spark joy. Be unapologetic during this purge; don’t continue to follow accounts of friends and family members if they negatively affect you.

And even if you want to stay logged on all platforms, you could still reduce your scrolling time and fight the compulsion to pull out your phone every time there’s a lull. First, turn off all notifications so you won’t feel the need to check every chime. Then set a time where you’ll do all of your browsing and catching up. Set an alarm and log out when it goes off. Keep social media to certain times and take a break for the rest of the day. [4]

Keep Reaidng: Posting a lot on social media can make you a jerk, study finds

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Sources

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  1. “Why Deleting My Social Media Profiles Made Me Happier.Thrive Global. Bethany Halland. March 11, 2020
  2. “5 Potential Mental Health Benefits of Deleting Social Media.” Self. Lindsey Lanquist. September 2, 2020 
  3. “People Who Deleted Their Social Media Share What It’s Like.HuffPost. Brittany Wong. April 20, 2021
  4. “Want to delete your social media, but can’t bring yourself to do it? Here are some ways to take that step.” Phys.org. Sharon Horwood. February 14, 2022
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