Always seeking more? Sometimes, the path to happiness lies in seeking less – as this blog series, living with less, discusses. This week, I’m talking about the benefits of spending less time online.
Living less online
It’s a running joke in my household.
‘I’m not as online as you,’ my boyfriend reminds me, when he doesn’t quite catch a reference. (Most recent example: he didn’t immediately understand why ‘Celt Flute, might delete later’ is the funniest tweet of all time).
‘You’re so online,’ he says, when I complain about another Drag Race spoiler. He’s probably right. We’re the same age, but somehow I feel like I’m more a child of the internet: I grew up on Neopets, Runescape, MSN messenger. I love content. And, of course: social media.
Except when I don’t, that is. My relationship with social media is tricky. I think we all know it isn’t that good for us. Fun fact: ‘the benefits of deleting social media’ is the most popular search terms for people finding the Nicer Thoughts blog.
Rightly so – there are loads of benefits to deleting social media. But here I am, back on Instagram. It’s a habit I can’t quite kick.
Why is social media so addicting?
The benefits of spending less time online are noticeable fairly quickly. I’ve certainly changed my ways, and I use them all less than I did.
The bile seeps in, even still.
Twitter is regularly a cesspit of abuse and bots. Somehow, they don’t seem to be able to block the rape threats against public figures. Instagram is a soul-sucking wasteland of branded content and influencers.
At the same time, Twitter is brilliant. Every third tweet on my timeline educates me, makes me laugh, adds value to my day.
Instagram is where I catch up with my loved ones around the world. Many of my closest friends live in other cities, so it’s where I see wedding photos and baby snaps and holiday pictures.
I find inspiration and creativity there, too. Social media is where people find their tribes. It’s wonderful and harmful and addictive, all at the same time.
What should we do?
When I did get rid of social media for a month, I had more time, was more engaged in the world around me, I read more.
But I did miss things. I genuinely enjoy seeing the content of people I care about. And I love to use social media to find content, to read articles, to ugly-snort with laughter into my breakfast.
So yes, the benefits of deleting social media are many. In fact, in general, there’s lots of benefits to spending less time online. But I won’t tell you to do that, because I understand the benefits of social media are many, too. Instead, change the way you approach it.
Unfollowed a shitload of influencers. Unfollow every single person who doesn’t make your heart sing with joy. Mute people, if you can’t unfollow them for whatever reason. Get rid of the apps, or just the notifications: you don’t need to respond to every little thing, the moment it happens.
And remember – live less online, and more in the world. Where the people you love actually are.
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