If you’ve ever wondered about the benefits of deleting social media, here’s a question for you. Be honest – when was the last time you screenshottted something annoying on social media and pinged it to your mates in the group chat?
No judgment whatsoever, here – I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. There’s just so much temptation, isn’t there? Social media is routinely full of annoying people doing irritating things, whether that’s celebrities, influencers, or that chick you went to uni with that irrationally makes your blood boil every time she does a prosecco boomerang. (Prosecco boomerangs are only funny and cool when I do it, obv.)
But while the world would undoubtedly be a better place if we were all kinder to and about each other (blah blah blah), that isn’t the point of this blog post. The point is that you – like me, after a grand total of one whole week – might find yourself a bit happier if you just deleted those apps altogether for a while.
All this isn’t surprising, but it is worth thinking about.
Think about it: how many times in one day do you get riled up online? (That’s what I meant about the screenshotting thing: it means we’re actively choosing to engage with content that stresses us out). Twitter almost makes me feel sick, sometimes; it’s such an endless shitstorm of negativity, trolls, bitchiness, and people rightly or wrongly getting cancelled. Punctuated by the odd spark of comedic brilliance.
Instagram, meanwhile, is primarily a platform that makes you feel shit about yourself. Gorgeous travel influencers dangling their legs off a cliff edge. Someone else’s beautiful home. People essentially being cooler, funnier and smarter than you are. I’ve also got a rant in me about how it’s designed to spike our desire for consumption/consumerism, but I’ll save that for another time.
And recently, my usage has got bad. Hour after hour, running through my fingertips.
Which would be fine, if it made me happy, like spanking six hours of Mad Men does. But it’s rare I come away from a session on Instagram actually feeling good about anything. Maybe I’m just an awful person, but it makes me 90% jealous/bitter/salty and only 10% excited about my loved ones’ dogs and babies. Not a good ratio, by any measure.
Worse still, it makes life… performative. Constructed, even. Nearly everything you can do that makes you happy – eat a nice meal, see a friend, go on holiday, smash a gym session – can be reduced to an artfully arranged shot and a number of likes.
Your life is not content.
(Unless you’re being paid per post. In which case, proceed).
When you get to a point – as I did – where it feels like you can’t enjoy things without putting them on Instagram, maybe it’s time to take a step back.
You don’t have to deactivate your account. You don’t even have to put yourself on a blanket ban – I’ve still been scrolling through Twitter on my iPad for ten minutes at night, and since Facebook is dead anyway (RIP), I’m more than happy to log in to that once a day to check I haven’t been invited to any events/missed a picture of my Mum enjoying her retirement.
But even after a week, I feel… better. I’ve listed the benefits of deleting social media below – but mostly I’m pleased my fingers have stopped itching in the morning, which was really worrying when I woke up on January 1st. It was literally like craving a cigarette.
I’m not saying I’m going to delete it forever – although when I do reintroduce it in February, I am definitely putting a ten-minute screen time cap on that motherfucker. Also, it’s one of my main sources of promoting my blog… so erm, bit problematic.
But it wouldn’t be very ‘mental health and happiness’ of me to keep something that makes me unhappy, just to get a grand total of twelve more reads on this post. So, if you’ve made it this far, here’s a challenge for you: delete the app for two weeks, and see if it enhances your life in any way.
And in the meantime, can somebody please send me a picture of their dog?
The benefits of deleting social media apps:
1) I haven’t spiked my own stress levels with pure, influencer related annoyance in a whole week.
2) I’m less inundated with adverts – and as somebody trying to embrace a more minimalistic lifestyle, that’s a significant bonus.
3) I feel more engaged with my boyfriend, because my fingers aren’t itching to scroll when we’re talking.
4) My sleep is better, probably because I’m not inhaling blue light faster than a teenager on nos in Magaluf.
5) I’ve read two books this week already. Because hey, a bitch still needs an endless stream of distraction to make it through her commute.
6) My phone usage is mainly now talking to friends. It also still has battery at the end of the day.
The downsides of deleting social media:
1) I feel perilously out of touch with memes.
2) I was very scared I might miss a picture of my friend’s new baby. But then she wisely said she’d prefer to limit the exposure of the baby’s face on social media, so I calmed down a bit.