Social media is one of the greatest inventions of the modern society after computers. It helped change the modus operandi of companies in how they do business with each other and with end customer. It has also shrink the world into a smaller place where communities are formed and people get together.
However, it’s not without its cons.
Articles like this, this, and this showed that social media led to decrease productivity in workplaces, increase anxiety and stress, increase depression rates, and decrease attention span. It has also led to situation where people in the same room don’t talk to each other anymore. They prefer to be looking at their screens scrolling through the feeds. They will see what their friends are doing, look at cat pictures (I do that because who doesn’t like cats…), and post curated content like images of themselves and their lives.
And you know what? Those articles aren’t wrong at all.
Auditing the time spent on social media
I decided to audit my life two days ago.
I realized I could spend up to four hours a day scrolling through Facebook news feed instead of doing anything productive. I would do it when I’m at work. I would do it while I’m on the train. I would do it while I am waiting for food to arrive. And I would even do it while my friends are around me chatting away.
I was addicted and afraid of talking to people.
And, it also took away precious time that I could use to read and write.
Excising the tumor called Facebook
I made the decision to quit social media. Unsurprisingly, the first to go was Facebook. I logged out from and uninstalled the main and messenger app from my phone and iPad.
Now, I didn’t exactly delete my account because someone once advised that keeping it around is necessary to ensure no one else attempts to masquerade as you. So what I did was to delete every single post I have ever made over the last two years and 95% of the photos on it. I removed my profile picture and cover picture. I put in a fake birthday and clear all the profile fields. There are still more posts to be deleted but it didn’t matter. The damage is done. My Facebook profile is ruined. When something is ruined, chances are you won’t go back and use it again. It would take too much effort to rebuild. Then I hit the logged out button and that was it.
What’s it like?
Although it’s only been three days, the effects were obvious. It’s especially so for me as a writer.
At first, you would feel weird like your limbs have been chopped off. There would be this void or itch that you can’t seem to scratch. When you are outside and feel like checking Facebook, you will find yourself feeling sad because the app is no longer on your phone. To make matter worse, you can’t even remember the password because it’s too long and managed by a password manager.
Then come the second day, you don’t even feel it. Well, at least in my case. I no longer have the desire to check Facebook anymore. You would find yourself feeling lighter and happier. When you are at work, you no longer stop what you were doing just to check the news feed. You can focus on your work more. And when you are traveling, you don’t check your phone as often. In my case, I brought a book along to read. You start to notice the nuances in your surroundings.
By the third day, you would actually use the freed up time to write. Again, I’m assuming you are a writer. The same could said if you like to bake or cook or play musical instruments. Now, even though you are on your computer with the password manager, you don’t even bother to open the password manager, access Facebook, and log in. The effort is just too much. You no longer feel depressed because you are not looking at other people’s well-curated life, all the nice photos of their families and friends, all the status updates of what they are doing, etc. You become more focus in what you want to do.
Don’t listen to those who claim social media is useful
Instead, I would counter that quitting social media is more useful. It will greatly improve your life, improve your productivity, your attention span, and the ability to think deeper.
And that’s how I am able to churn out this article in thirty minutes…
As Dr. Cal Newport put it during his ted talk, social media will actively prevent you from doing deep work. The ability to do deep work is ever so important in this and future economy. When you can do deep work, you are able to learn more in less time.
In that talk, you would hear him counter-argue three points people make when it comes to quitting social media. One of those point being “missing out” and the other was “my job requires it”.
Here are some other articles written by people who quit social media for a fix period of time and permanently.
Emma Fierberg wrote about how she quit social media for a month and how it was the best choice she have ever made.
John Gorman, who’s a writer, also wrote about why he quit social media and what were the benefits.
Call to action
I hope you take the chance to audit your life and determine if you should also quit social media so that you can build a better life for yourself and improve relationships that you have.