Kicking Your Social Media Addiction to the Curb

Think about this question for a moment: How many hours a day are you mindlessly scrolling through your social media apps?

Before crushing my addiction to something that seems so innocent but can be so deadly, I was using social media more than I was sleeping. I’d wake up at 6 AM and spend about 45 minutes to an hour on social media. I’d spend every class in college tuning out the professor while scrolling through Twitter and texting off my MacBook. Then, I’d return home and spend anywhere between an hour to seven hours on social media. The best part? I wasn’t getting anything out of it.

Why are we addicted to social media? Well, there’s a lot of answers for that. The companies behind Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter have one goal. That goal is to keep you from leaving their app or website. The last thing these companies want is for people to stop using their products.

Social media makes things easy for us. Want to talk to your friend? Send them a Facebook message. Hear about something on the news? Share it to your profile for your family to read about. Who has the time to meet up at Starbucks or have an actual phone call? Nobody — so social media found the alternative.

How do you feel when you get fifty likes on a picture versus five? You’ll feel a lot of validation. Your self-esteem goes up. You feel accepted and liked. As a society, we’ve come to associate someone mindlessly hitting a “like” button with their approval of us as human beings. Unfortunately, this is incredibly unrealistic. Nobody actually cares about your selfies.

The desire to be liked has become unavoidable and social media has been dumbed down so that we seek validation from it.

Social media is easy. It’s easy to find your friends. Easy to “friend” them. Easy to send them a message. Easy to get a message back. Easy, easy, easy. What do we as humans gravitate towards most? Things being simple and easy. Things that are addicting. Just look out our world. We’ve become industrialized because we wanted to be simplified.

After finally understanding all of this, I wanted to toss my habit overboard and live my life in peace again. In the beginning of this year, I wrote an article about going without social media for an entire year. Getting rid of your social media accounts is probably the easiest part of destroying the addiction. You press that delete button and you think, “Wow, that was so easy! I’ll just go for a walk in the park or make some art or cook a meal now!”

The reality is, addiction to drugs isn’t the only addiction people have an incredibly hard time overcoming. You will check your phone every five minutes. You will become aware that you are checking your phone every five minutes. It will make you very angry that you check your phone so much and there is nothing there for you to use. I’ve compiled a list of steps to take that can help you overcome your addiction and shake that annoyance you feel from being on your phone so much.

You don’t have to completely erase your accounts, but you should.

One of the hardest parts of distancing myself from social media was hitting that delete button. Taking the apps off my phone? Easy. Actually deleting my accounts? You’d think I’d been asked to sell my first born son, and I don’t even have any kids. However, actually deleting my accounts instead of just the apps made it incredibly easier for me to rid myself of my social media addiction.

Most platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat allow you to deactivate your account for a period of time before they completely erase all your history of being on the site. Instead of worrying about never getting your old profiles back, take advantage of that grace period. It will be comforting to know they’re still there in the background in case you desperately need to go back. It helped me have that comfortable distance before I was ready to completely shut it all down.

Fill your phone with positive uses of your time.

You’ll realize just how much you use your phone when there’s nothing there for you to click on. How many times can you check your bank accounts before redownloading Facebook? It gets tiresome very quickly.

Some apps I recommend having on your phone to replace your social media are, of course, Medium, Podcasts, one app that pushes you to do the things you enjoy, and another that makes you get your work done. For me, these apps are Quizlet and VSCO. Quizlet reminds me to study for my exams and helps me achieve better grades in my classes. VSCO encourages me to take more pictures and practice personal photography and editing. For you, these apps could be planners, sketchbooks, notebooks, and more.

Put your phone somewhere that you won’t be able to see or use it.

You know that moment when you’re trying to get work done and your phone is sitting right there, staring your down, begging you to check Facebook? You start asking yourself, what if I miss something? What will my family think if I don’t give that baby gender reveal post from my cousin a ‘like’?

Here’s the thing: People. Do. Not. Care.

Nobody will notice if you stop showing up in their feeds. I haven’t had a Facebook in over two years. Just a few days ago, my aunt was asking me if I saw a post she made on her Facebook account. People will not notice if you don’t have social media. We as a society are mindlessly scrolling through our feeds not giving anything we see a second thought. We scroll down to a post, give it a like, and keep on scrolling.

Put your phone anywhere else than right in front of you. If you’re working in your bedroom, keep your phone in the living room. Hide it under your mattress. Drop it off at a friend’s house if you have to. Whatever you do, stop letting it stare you down and demand your attention. Nothing comes from it but a deeper addiction.

“If we are constantly consuming, then we are not creating.” -The Minimalists

This is just the beginning of changing your habits. If you aren’t proactive in adjusting your lifestyle to overcome your social media addiction, you’ll fall right back into it. However, there is still a plus to deleting it all and destroying the addiction, even if you make new accounts down the road. I’ll continue to use Twitter to communicate with many of my friends as well as promote my writing to my readers. Although I do this, I will never be addicted again.

Once you break that initial addiction, it is difficult to go back to it. If I feel that I’m abusing my access to Twitter, I’ll delete the app off my phone for a few days and I’m immediately thrown back into reality. I don’t try to go back to it as much as I used to. If you get rid of your addiction, you won’t want it back either.

If you can control your impulses, you can do anything.

Marnie is a queer poet and storyteller from North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She tweets a lot here. Marnie’s poetry book “a black and white rainbow” about love, loss, and coming out can be purchased here. 20% of all purchases are donated to LGBTQ+ organizations in South Carolina.

A witch, writer, creator, painter, vintage postcard collector, mediocre kalimba player, photographer, baker, college grad. I change my name a lot.

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