6 Benefits from my first 13 days of a month long social media detox
When was the last time you went a week without social media?
Myspace came out when I was a senior in High School, and Facebook popped onto the scene when I was entering college back in 2005. Not to be the old guy yelling at the clouds, but I remember life before social media and smartphones, and I miss it.
I loved Facebook when it came out, but as I got older, I noticed that I hated it but still noticed myself logging on to it all the time. I gave up Facebook back in 2014 and haven't looked back, I tend to do a social media detox fairly regularly but I am taking the month of March off which will be my longest period in 17 years with social media. On top of that, I am doing a low information diet, which I will cover next week.
This isn't some humblebrag, I want people to know that while it seems counterintuitive to the norm, there are a ton of benefits from taking time off every once in a while.
Here's what I've gained from making this change.
I’m getting more done :
The average American spends about 2.5 hours daily on social media. I was able to cut my screen time from 5 hours to 2 hours a day. So I’ve effectively gained half a working week back.
This might seem painfully obvious, but there is something deeper at play here. By cutting out social media, I've been able to increase my focus by being more present and getting more comfortable with boredom. Also, by not having insane amounts of other information coming into my brain, I can choose where my attention goes instead of being distracted all the time.
I’m more present:
I have a habit of refreshing the same few apps when I’m bored. By taking those away, it’s made me notice how dependent on my phone I can be at times. This has made me notice how much I use my phone to fill in those down moments to kill boredom.
Not to go all American Beauty on you, but cutting the cord with social media helps me notice those small moments and have appreciation for them.
I’m getting better quality connection with people
Humans crave social connection, it's hardwired into our DNA. Social media does that but in a less satisfying form. Without social media, I have been reaching out to friends making plans and opting for real world connection.
A big fear people have when doing something like this is feeling out of the loop. The interesting thing is, I feel so much more connected with people after just a short period of time.
I’m more creative:
One of the things that was bothering me lately is that everyone has an opinion on everything. So you're flooded by information pulling you in a million directions. I love to learn and I’m open to new ideas, but if I spend too much time scrolling, I end up feeling spread too thin and try to chase too many new ideas.
This cleanse has been awesome. Along with cutting social media, I also have stopped checking “infotainment” and news websites. So I pretty much don't have any information incoming unless it's something specific I chose to learn. Since I cut the information hose off, I am coming up with better ideas by allowing myself more time to think through problems.
Work has been more enjoyable:
Social media hacks our reward system, it gives us dopamine in each like, comment and message we get. When we get that dopamine hit, we feel good, but then the feeling dissipates and you're back for more. Much like anything, you build a tolerance over time and when you don’t get it you come back more often.
Completing tasks and doing challenging work actually gives you the same good feelings, but they last longer and you don't feel empty after like you would refresh your feed. Think of it like opting for a nice steak over a drive through burger.
I’m happier with my life
There's a lot of ways social media can make us miserable, but one in particular is it makes us comparison machines.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Social media is a way where people tend to put a very manufactured highlight reel of how great their lives are. If you spend hours each day comparing yourself to others you might tend to feel like shit and stop appreciating what’s good in your life.
I think everyone should try at least a week without social media if you haven't before.
If this seems interesting to you, I am kicking off a guided 7 day social media detox group. In this group you will get the knowledge and accountability to change your relationship with tech, make more time in your day, improve your focus and feel better in the process.
If you're interested, send me an email and I will add you to the list.