At this point, most of us have at least one social media account (let’s face it, you probably found this article while scrolling through social media). Social media connects us to friends, family, and strangers alike from anywhere in the world. We no longer are restricted to the news we get from our local area or to the opinions of the people we know. Social media has connected us in ways that we’ve never experienced before, and while it can be used for a lot of good, it also can feel overwhelming.
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For starters, let’s talk about what a social media detox is
A social media detox is pretty straightforward: essentially, it’s just about removing yourself from social media for a while. This means no posting, no scrolling, no commenting, etc. It can be done in several different ways, depending on your own needs. For example, some may decide to simply log out of their accounts and then continue on just fine, while others may prefer to delete the app from their phone altogether. Focus on what works for you, and adjust accordingly.
Taking a break from social media is great for several reasons. It gives us a break from the lives of strangers on the internet because whether we realize it or not, we are constantly bombarded by what others are doing. Additionally, it can help us ensure we are doing things for ourselves, instead of for the approval of others.
To fully understand the benefits of taking a social media detox, here are 7 signs you’re ready for one.
7 Signs You’re Ready For a Social Media Detox
1. You find yourself getting upset as you scroll
Social media is all fun and games until you start to get upset when you scroll. The worst part? This seems to always happen without us even realizing it. We may start off feeling great about ourselves, only to get progressively worse the further we scroll. We may start to feel upset without knowing why, or worse, without acknowledging that we’re upset at all. Start paying attention to how you’re feeling – if you start to get upset, log off.
2. You feel bad about what you have (or haven’t) accomplished yet
Everyone on social media seems to be the happiest they’ve ever been, the most successful they’ve ever been, the healthiest they’ve ever been, etc. Why? Because they can pick and choose exactly what they want to share online. They can show the good without showing the hardships by taking 100 selfies until they find one with the perfect angle for their jawline, or FaceTune or Photoshop any bump or out-of-place hair to create the perfect post. Likewise, they can show off their fancy new job, without having to show the months of unemployment or financial stress that lead them to that moment, or a brand new home, without all of the previously rejected offers. When we’re feeling good, we can easily remind ourselves that social media is a highlight reel, not real life. When we’re not feeling as good, it becomes harder to remind ourselves, causing us to compare ourselves to what we’re seeing or what we have (or haven’t) accomplished. If this starts to happen, it’s time to log off.
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3. You suddenly feel like you need to change everything about yourself
Like we said, social media is a collection of highlight reels – it’s not a complete representation of real life. Feeling like we need to change everything about ourselves based on a highly edited glimpse into someone else’s life is a sign we need to log off. The reality is that there are some pretty powerful apps that people use to alter nearly any area of their life, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish real life from an edited concept. Constantly comparing our behind-the-scenes to somebody else’s highlight reel is (unfortunately) a game we’ll never win.
4. You begin to judge or criticize the lives of others
The same can be said about criticizing others, too. Just as we shouldn’t compare our lives to what we see online because we don’t know the back story, we need to also be careful when criticizing others, too. Simply put, you never know somebody’s backstory, so if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all. If you don’t like someone’s outfit, that’s okay – it’s not for you. If you don’t like someone’s haircut, that’s okay – it’s not for you. If you find someone’s posts are annoying, that’s okay – it’s not for you. If you are finding yourself getting concerned with what others are (or aren’t) posting, then it’s probably a good sign to log off.
5. You are posting for the reactions of others
Okay, this one is tough to navigate and will require a whole lot of soul searching. Before you post something, ask yourself why are you posting it. You will likely answer this with something along the lines of, “I want to share this _____ (adorable picture of my child, delicious new recipe, ultra-cute picture of my puppy) with my friends and family members”, but keep asking why to dive a little deeper. A lot of us start off posting on social media for this exact reason – we genuinely want to give the people we love a glimpse into our current lives. Over time, however, we may find ourselves becoming addicted to validation we get from others. This is super complicated, so we’re just going to brush the surface (if you are interested in learning more, check out this post here): social media is essentially designed to grab our attention for as long as possible. Social media is designed to make us feel like we are missing out if we aren’t scrolling. It provides us with little rewards (including likes, comments, shares, etc.), which triggers a positive response in our body and leaving us wanting more. However, the issue is that this becomes a cycle: the more we engage with social media, the more the response gets triggered, and the more we post to get that feeling. This is all to say that you should double-check your reasons for why you want to share something before you post it, and make sure you are doing it because you want to, and not because the app is making you want to.
6. You find yourself scrolling through the app without realizing how you got onto it
Let’s face it, we’ve all done this: you open your phone to do something, only to end up in an endless scroll of social media posts. Social media is notorious for attracting our attention without our knowledge, and retaining it long after without thinking twice. We scroll while we’re using the bathroom, while we’re in line at the grocery store, while we’re at work, while we do virtually any task. Social media should be a fun way to connect with the people we care about, but it can only be fun if we are actively choosing to take part in it, as opposed to having the app coax us on. If you aren’t able to be intentional about when you choose to log on or off, it may be time to take a break.
7. You aren’t paying attention to the present moment
If you are scrolling through social media instead of paying attention to the people around you, it might be time to take a break. The fact of the matter is that social media is not reality – it’s nothing more than a glimpse into the version of reality people are wishing to share. It’s a piece of the puzzle, but not the whole picture. While it may be fun to partake in from time to time, it can’t replace what is happening offline. For example, if you find that you are scrolling instead of spending time with your spouse, children, family or friends, it may be time to take a break.