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The 5 Lessons I Learned from Deleting Social Media

I never planned on deleting my social media. My one-month break suddenly turned into two months, six months, and somewhere along the way, I realized that I didn’t want the break to end.

My relationship with social media had become fairly toxic long before deleting it. I constantly sent people Snapchats, posted random pictures on my Instagram story, and obsessively scrolled through TikTok all day. Deciding to take some time off was a difficult one. But after being constantly drained and having a screen time that was never less than five hours, I knew I needed to make a change.

Now, after a year without my social media accounts, I have a better understanding of the role it played in my life. Here are five things I have learned since deleting all social media:

Taking pictures is more fun when they don’t need to be perfect

The reality is I would spend hours looking at pictures I took, adding filters from all these different apps, before posting it online. I would constantly take pictures of anything deemed post-worthy: new outfits, food, sunsets, makeup looks, time with friends. Taking an image does not need to equate to posting it online.

I now take pictures of anything and everything I feel like. I still love taking pictures of sunsets and special occasions with friends, but there is no pressure for perfection.

You will lose social connections

My concern with the initial break from social media was that I wouldn’t talk to my friends as much. The truth is that I don’t speak to them all as much without it. Since deleting my social media, I haven’t talked to some people I considered friends. And that is okay. Strong and valuable friendships require effort from both parties.

Social media allows us to cheat by constantly showing us our friends’ names and faces. But just because someone comments a heart emoji under your picture, it doesn’t mean they’re a friend. As much as I appreciate the interconnectedness that social media creates, it’s refreshing to take a step back and focus all my efforts on the friendships I value most.

Your screen time will cut down

Old habits die hard, and within the first few months, I found myself constantly grabbing my phone to check something on it. While I was already aware that I was spending hours scrolling through different social media apps every day, I never realized the importance of that time. Instead of waking up and checking all my apps first thing in the morning, I get out of bed and start my morning routine with stretching.

It was challenging to fill these spaces in which I would typically be checking all the different apps. Still, finding other ways to spend my day or simply sitting in those moments and doing nothing at all has been a positive challenge.

Social media “influencers” are actually influential

This may not seem all that surprising, but the reality is many of our lifestyles and consumer choices are majorly influenced by what we see across social media apps. Companies are constantly shoving their products down your throat, primarily through ads and influencer posts. It can be too easy to get wrapped up in the never-ending trend cycles.

I find myself making less impulsive online purchases now, and I’ve had the chance to discover my own taste.

You aren’t missing out

Like many people, I experience extreme FOMO—the fear of missing out. I often feel compelled to go to every social gathering I’m invited to. Of course, at these gatherings taking a picture to post online was essential. When I wasn’t invited and saw the event later on social media, I would feel incredibly lonely.

Not knowing what other people are doing has brought a new sense of peace to my life. It has enabled me to focus more on myself than worry about everyone else. I can spend more time doing fun things by myself without seeing what I allegedly missed out on in other people’s posts. A cozy Friday night in doesn’t get tainted by seeing that everyone else is out partying.

I’m not suggesting everyone deletes their social media permanently. I probably will use social media again and make new accounts one day. There were many reasons that I loved using all the different apps. It makes it easier than ever to connect with friends. I get to explore pages about things I’m passionate about, like books, music, and travel. If the time comes that I want to make new accounts, I will be able to make healthier choices about my social media use.

Mara is a third-year student at York University's Glendon Campus in the International Studies Program. As an avid reader herself, she is delighted to be writing with Her Campus York U to motivate and empower the community. In her spare time, Mara enjoys doing yoga and playing the piano.
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