The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Being a college-age person, especially a college-age woman, social media is generally accepted as an important aspect of having a social life (DUH!!). We all know that “social media is toxic,” that “comparison kills/is the thief of joy,” and that we should put our phones down more and all that. These messages have been stated and repeated to the extent that they’ve lost almost all meaning, especially to the ears who do not want to hear them.
This was the exact mentality I was a proud ambassador of until recently. I hate to be that person who preaches against such a fundamental of socialization in the modern era, but I have to say that in my experience, my daily life has become significantly richer since cutting back on social media use. What it took for me to actually take the steps to lessen my time spent on social media was a necessity due to the business of my classes and work. This then evolved in electing to keep a distance from social media even when I have the time, as my mental health improved, along with other aspects of my wellbeing.
This cutting back from social media can look a number of ways. Simply turning off notifications for social media apps is enough for some people to spend less time on such platforms. For some people, the self-imposed screen time limiting features are enough. For others, completely deleting an app is most effective. For me, these steps were not the best fit, as self-imposed limitations that I can override are not enough, but deleting an app altogether is too much, as I will end up redownloading it for a specific purpose before getting lost in the endless scroll again.
My personal solution for Instagram was to unfollow everyone. As in, I had literally “0 Following” for a while. I have since refollowed a few people (4, to be exact), but nowhere close to the number I was following before. With this low number of accounts I follow, I see one, maybe two, posts on my feed daily. The same goes for stories. Despite my habit to open the app frequently, there is not usually much to see (except for the occasional reel on my explore page), so my time spent on the app is significantly less. I still have access to posting or checking in on any public profiles, though, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much.
The solution I’ve found that works for me is different for TikTok. I deleted the app off my phone, but I kept it on my iPad. So, in the end, I can see any TikToks my friends send me, spend some time scrolling my for you page or even make the occasional original video. The fact that I have to use my iPad to do so effectively hinders me from being on TikTok much, though, as it is generally inconvenient and frankly embarrassing in public. My approach to Twitter is similar, with it only being on my laptop. I realize these solutions are reliant on the privilege of owning multiple electronics, and I understand that this, of course, is not accessible for everyone.
Seriously limiting social media use has been a game-changer for me in terms of juggling my life as a working senior in college who is trying to maintain a social life. I genuinely feel like my days have gotten longer. I now have so much more time to cook, read, and build relationships with others on top of completing all of my schoolwork, shifts for my job, and general responsibilities that felt overwhelming before (like answering emails and texts, organizing my physical space as well as desktop, etc.). I have also found that my sleep has improved, as my bedtime routine no longer includes an hour of scrolling TikTok or Instagram.
Some of the benefits I have reaped after cutting back on social media use were unforeseen. The biggest surprise benefit has been my decrease in online shopping or feeling the need to go thrifting. When I was constantly consuming content on Instagram and TikTok about what other people had or wore, I spend a lot of time scouring online shops for the same or similar items, adding them to wish lists, or buying them on the spot. Similarly, I would make lists of things I wanted to search for on my next trip to the thrift store, and those thrifting trips were frequent. Looking back at the items on these lists, so many of them are things I am no longer interested in or feel the need to own at all. When I focus on my own wants with less influence, I find that I spend a lot less money on things I don’t need.
I have also found that I am genuinely more focused on the present and reality than ever before. A hard truth for me was that so much of friendships and hangouts exist only for social media. Going to a coffee shop just because it’s cute and would be a great spot to take Instagram pictures is not worth it anymore. Going to a coffee shop because you want to try a new spot and visit with a friend there? Totally worth it.
My mentality has shifted through the changes I’ve made with how I use my phone for social media. I completely get that this change is much easier said than done and that this message is not one that people like to hear. Regardless, I urge you to try making some adjustments to how/how much you use social media (and letting those adjustments present results).