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So you want to quit social media? Here's how!
Social media is ubiquitous. With new platforms being created every few years, updates to existing ones that keep us hooked, and thousands of articles on how to use them effectively - it looks like social media is here to stay.
But should it? Or more importantly, should you be using it? Or should you quit social media altogether?
The Pros and Cons of Quitting Social Media
In 2016, Dr Cal Newport gave a TEDx talk about why you should quit social media in favour of Deep Work.
He then went on to pen a book of the same name, arguing that the ability to focus without distraction is an increasingly valuable skill in the workplace. Additionally, that sustained focus is the core of a good life.
With such a strong case for quitting social media, should you go through with it?
Here are three pros and three cons of quitting social media
1. You think your own thoughts
Clarity comes from space and silence to reflect. If you're always being influenced by the noise of other people's opinions, you never get to focus on what matters to you.
2. You'll live a deep life
Deep Living is the key to greater purpose, meaning and fulfilment in your life. And staying focused on what matters is vital. As Cal Newport writes "...the skilful management of attention is the sine qua non (essential ingredient) of the good life and the key to improving virtually every aspect of your experience.”
3. You have time to cultivate hobbies
Ever wished you had more time to bake, sew, knit, paint, learn an instrument, garden, read, or write? The hours spent scrolling can now be redirected into your favourite new hobby.
1. It can be lonely
Social media does make it easier to stay up to date. Which means you can miss out on a lot when you quit: event invites, updates from friends, news, connecting with interest groups...
If you do quit social media, be sure that you have a way to stay connected and informed. Make the effort to phone, visit or write friends. These kinds of interactions are more intimate and will help you develop a closeness that social media just can't replicate.
2. It can be boring
Unless you make a real effort to replace the time you used to spend on social media with creative and productive pursuits - you can easily feel bored and restless. Make sure to replace the scroll with something you love. Also, learn to be okay with being bored. In fact, boredom can be good for you.
3. It can be harder to do business
Having a social media presence can help you reach a larger audience and market your business effectively. However, it's not everything. Word of mouth and referrals are still the most effective tactics to promote your business.
How to Quit Social Media
So you're ready to quit social media? Here's how to do it.
1. Make a plan
Quitting anything addictive cold turkey is rarely a good idea. And social media is no different. Before you close any accounts for good, ask yourself:
- What do I need to save (if anything) from my account?
- How else will I keep in touch with people who are important to me?
- What will I do when the urge to get back on becomes too strong?
- How will I fill my time without scrolling? (Here are 30 ideas to get you started)
2. Save important data
If you've been using social media for years, there's likely some content that you will want to back up. Photos from Facebook, testimonials from clients, email address or contact details for friends. Make sure what you need doesn't disappear along with your account.
3. Choose what you will keep (and why)
Do you want to keep YouTube for the engaging tutorial videos? Do you want to leave Facebook but keep Messenger to stay in touch with friends? Do you want to keep Instagram but only follow loved ones?
Understanding why you're keeping (and why you're leaving) certain platforms will help you manage your time on them better.
4. Let people know you're leaving
Give friends and clients ample time to hear that you're leaving social media. Give important contacts other ways to get in touch with you.
Alternatives to quitting
If quitting social media sounds like a great goal, but you're not quite ready yet - there are lots of alternatives.
- Go private
Only keep a list of your closest friends to keep in contact with
- Ruthlessly curate your feed
Ask yourself: Who's voices do I hear all the time? Are they enriching my life? Who's voices are missing? Without tokenising anyone, how diverse is my feed?
- Have a business only profile without following anyone
You'll still be able to market your business without getting caught in the time-sucking scroll or comparisonitis
- Remove all friends and keep only groups or events that interest you
If you have a lot of niche-interests, keep the online groups you love and catch up with friends over coffee instead
- Set strong boundaries around use
Leave your phone at home, turn your phone to airplane mode at night, or limit the amount of time you use social media. If you're having a little trouble with self control, there are lots of web plugins and (ironically) apps that can help you block social media websites.
Need more inspiration? Here are some great books to help you quit social media