If you haven’t done one before, you have seen a friend post on their Instagram story about going on a social media detox. It might just be me being a cranky old person who thinks announcing to the world that you are going on a social media detox is a little self-serving. Still, there is some merit to the actual detox itself. Social media can be one of the biggest time wasters we experience. (Lord knows it’s my biggest time waster. We won’t talk about my screen time report from my iPhone.) But why do a social media detox, and what are the benefits?
Social Media Detox
Social media can be extremely addicting. We rationalize it in our heads differently than most things. It’s nice to connect to friends, family, and things we are interested in, but scrolling through TikTok until three in the morning is a bit much. So one clarification I wanted to make was the difference between a social media detox and a social media break. A social media break is simply you saying you will be taking a break from social media for an established period. A social media detox is taking drastic measures to change your relationship with social media.
Social Media Break
One of the first and easiest steps to a social media detox is taking a small break from all your platforms of choice. Deleting your social media apps gives you the chance to walk away. Opening social media apps can be habitual. Have you ever closed Twitter on your phone only to open it up five seconds later? I do it all the time. Taking a step back from all the noise can help you reassess your relationship with social media. Hard to make habitual changes while still using the vice.
I know I said that I find announcing social media breaks on social media rather annoying. Still, telling someone you are taking a break from social media is just as important as making the initial decision. Finding an accountability partner to hold you to your word will make slipping up way harder. After that, it’s best to delete the apps from your phone and block them on your computer. Having ease of access to your apps is playing with temptation. But on top of that, the most important thing you can do after deciding to detox is to plan other activities. Idle hands are the devil’s work.
We like to complain about how little time we have on a day-to-day basis, but I know that if I cut my TikTok time in half weekly, I could probably read a whole other book a week. So it would be best if you filled the time you once wasted on social media with something else. It makes replacing a bad habit with a good one much easier. It’s why you might see people trying to quit smoking cigarettes chew gum religiously. To find good habits, you want to purposefully fill up your time instead of mindlessly scrolling.
Benefits of a Detox
I’m not going to lie to you. Starting a social media detox can leave you extremely bored. What was once mindless scrolling filled with funny videos or tweets is now free time. And if you have nothing to fill that void with, good luck finishing your detox.
One of my worst habits is checking my phone when I wake up in the morning. (Or afternoon on weekends.) I got to play catch up to the world while I was asleep. Maybe it’s some weird twisted form of FOMO, but I reach for my phone before my eyes are even open. I’ve started to be more mindful of this horrible habit and instead spend the time enjoying my morning. (What a crazy idea considering I am by no means a morning person.)
Instead of spending my morning going through the habits of my routine while scrolling through TikTok, I stay present in the morning. My dog is a morning person. (or is it morning doggo?) So instead of skulking around, I play with her first thing. Then, I wake up, make my coffee, and take her for her walk to a patch of grass and let her run for a few minutes. It’s simple, but this new morning routine has given me daily joy. My mornings are better and give me a peaceful time that helps alleviate some of my general anxiety. (or maybe I’m just getting old, and I’m starting to appreciate the little things in life more.)
Do What’s Right for You
Maybe you only need a break from social media, or maybe you need to reassess your relationship with social media. Still, whatever the case is, you need to do what’s right for you. A social media detox might be a bit extreme for your current circumstance, or maybe it’s what you need. I’m not trying to villainize social media. On the contrary, it can be a great tool for staying connected and learning new things. (I’ve learned more real-life skills on TikTok than anywhere else.) But too much of anything is bad for you, and that is especially true for mindless scrolling. There is a balance that is different for everyone, so find yours and establish healthy habits. You won’t regret it.