The Ultimate Guide To Leave Social Media (By Someone Who’s Done It)

It’s not new that social media can cause trouble. There’s even a book entitled Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts. Studies have shown that the more time a person spends in social media, the more likely they are to develop some psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety or even depression. It happens because social media works with an intense system of validation – if people don’t “like” our posts, we tend to feel bad and not worth it.

Two years ago, I was in a really bad place. I was studying Architecture and Urbanism, and I was suffering because I didn’t like that graduation course. So, it made me develop a psychosomatic disease. Meanwhile, everybody on Instagram was happy and accomplished – but were they, really?

The answer is a huge and obvious “NO!”. But back then, it was hard to believe it, since they were all traveling, smiling, and looking amazing. That “perfect” world got me addicted. I was spending more and more time on social media, and that was making me feel awful, not to mention that I was really unproductive. I had tons of assignments and projects to do, but, as I mentioned, I didn’t like the course, so I procrastinated on Instagram; by the end of the day, I hadn’t done half of the things I needed to – it was a vicious cycle.

Then, one day, I realized that it had to stop immediately. I knew social media was aggravating my problems, so I decided to quit it. I thought I wouldn’t be able to leave it for good, so I deleted the Instagram app from my smartphone for a week. I did it, and I felt… nothing. I thought that people would forget about me and that I would feel bored in the next second. However, it didn’t happen.

People still could find me through WhatsApp, and I filled the “free” time with more fun and productive activities. By the end of the week, I got myself feeling sad because it was time to go back to Instagram. Those seven days were so light and joyful that I didn’t want them to end. So, I decided not to reinstall the app until I actually wanted to. And guess what? That desire didn’t come for over a year. Then, I started a blog and created a new Instagram account to announce it, but I must confess that I was reluctant about it, and still am.

While I was absent from Instagram, I also deleted my Facebook account. I didn’t have any other social media, but I’m sure that, if I had, I would’ve deleted it as well. The time I saved helped me to reconnect with myself, and a few months later, I decided to quit the Architecture and Urbanism course and apply to the Journalism graduation. I also felt more self-confident and less overwhelmed.

So, if you want to leave social media, but are afraid of feeling bored, alienated, or distant from your friends, check out some advice from someone who has already been in the same position.

  1. 1. Take baby steps

    social media hcfsu

    If my initial goal was to quit Instagram and Facebook for over a year, I wouldn’t have done it. It may be really scary to take drastic actions, so try taking baby steps instead. Try to delete one app at a time and for a short period. For example: leave Instagram or TikTok for a week, and after that, see how you’re feeling. If it feels good, don’t go back to it.

  2. 2. Remember: everything is reversible

    Woman staring at phone at night

    When leaving social media, don’t think: “That’s it, I’m gone for good and there’s no turning back”. If you are an anxious person like me, that kind of thought will only make you feel desperate. Instead, keep in mind that everything is reversible – you can always reinstall the apps with one click if you want to.

  3. 3. Try a new hobby

    goals, coffee, notebook

    One thing is for sure: leaving social media will give you free time. It might be a little if you’re not very active on them, or a lot, if you are on the addicted team. Either way, you will have some extra time to fill up the way you prefer. Why not try a new hobby? You probably have something you’ve always wanted to do, but never got the time – well, now you do! It can be a new workout routine, an art class, or reading more. I tried getting better at Italian and recalling some French. I used Duolingo and placed the app at the same spot my Instagram app used to be. That way, in the beginning, when I reached for the phone to check stories, I would find Duolingo instead.

    You don’t actually have any hobbies you want to pursue? Use your free time to get your things done – Yes, school assignments, I’m looking at you! –.

  4. 4. Check the news

    election

    If you are used to see the news on Twitter or Facebook, one of your fears might be becoming alienated if you leave social media – and that’s a legit concern! It’s very important to be aware of what is going on out there. In order to avoid missing things out, develop the habit of checking the news in other places – TV, newspapers, magazines… Just make sure the vehicle you’re consulting is reliable! As a Journalism student, I can’t stress this enough. It might be a good idea to create a routine for that. For example: read the newspaper after breakfast or watch the news after dinner.

  5. 5. Meet your friends

    Woman in front of laptop with mask on

    Leaving social media shouldn’t mean being isolated. Actually, it’s a chance to get closer to your friends and family. Social media gives us the impression of proximity, but it is a different kind of connection; many things are lost without the encounter – eye contact, touching, hugging… Use this opportunity to meet your friends in person for a coffee or a night out – after the pandemic, of course! And while COVID-19 is still a problem, try to call them on FaceTime. You will see that not liking pictures or not answering tweets will not end true friendships.

  6. 6. Reach for support

    Whatever your reasons are, once you decide to leave social media, you will need support. In an always-connected world, going in the opposite direction may be discouraging – but, sometimes, it has to be done. If you want to delete your TikTok account or be absent from Facebook for a while, one thing that can help you is talking to your friends and family. Let them know you are trying to leave social media and, if you feel it’s necessary, tell them why. Exposing intentions will prevent you from being asked to like a video or being pressured to comment on a picture. True friends will support the decisions you make to improve your life quality.

     

The previous tips were elaborated based on my personal experience. Hopefully, they will help you in your own journey. Keep in mind that, although leaving social media might bring you many benefits, you may find it hard to do, even with the tips above. If during the process you feel uncomfortable, it may be a sign that you’re not ready to do it right now, and that’s ok. But if you feel that you’re too addicted to social media, maybe you should look for professional help.

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The article above was edited by Bárbara Vetos.

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