So, a few years ago I decided to become an online entrepreneur. Undoubtedly, this also involved creating pages on all major social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. After all, I had to sprinkle motivational slogans and brag about stuff I didn’t own or actually did – like everyone else, right? It was going well initially, I had my own personal community. Something like a cult. People who didn’t know anything about me were all cheering me when I shared obvious stuff about life and about how to be successful. Stuff like, work harder! Or, follow your passion. Crazy, right? Then, all of a sudden, I realized that I should finally grow up and get a real job. I mean, I had to move out of my parent’s house and get my own condo...
Regardless of what you’ll say, this is how social media looks in a nutshell:
- Person 1: “I’m insecure about my life so I will post a picture on Facebook of me having a great time. Although, most of that time my life is pretty shitty.”
- Person 2: After seeing the picture shared by Person 1: “Wow, my life is pretty shitty compared to others. I need to do something… I’ll post a picture online of me having a great time.”
- Person 3: After seeing the picture shared by Person 2: “Damn it. My life sucks. But others shouldn’t know. So, I’ll post a picture online of me having a great time…”
That’s why last year I decided to unfollow everyone on Social Media – and more particularly, everyone on Facebook. I took me several months to not see anything from my friends and also from my online friends. Now, when I open Facebook, I see a “Get Started with Facebook” message. Something few of you have seen. I bet.
At first, it felt like I’m betraying my friends. That I’m scratching their name from my friends’ list. But after some time, I realized that my relationship with them is actually stronger now.
Since you’re reading this, you’re probably still on the fence about quitting social media. You probably read all kinds of articles about digital detox. You might also have visited a retreat camp. Whatever you tried, it didn’t seem to work. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here, right?
So, in this post, I’m going to share with you why I decided to abandoned social media. Probably you don’t quite care, but my aim here is not to make you care about me. My main goal is to help you realize that social media is a massive time waster.
Here’re the main reasons I stopped using social media and what happened after that:
Why I Quit Social Media And What Made Me Quit?
1. I Was Wasting A Lot of Time
Ok. We all know that social media is a huge time waster but we don’t really realize this. I mean, really, really realize this. A lot of people I know always keep a separate tab open for their favorite social media account. Because, you know, “something new might happen I need to see it first so I can comment and share it with my friends and look like a total bad-ass in the eyes of others!”
Though this idea is kind of “noble,” if you constantly keep one eye on Facebook, you’re never really focused on what you’re doing – your mind is constantly wandering. And according to researchers, it takes around 25 minutes to refocus after you get distracted.1 Or in other words, if you refresh your feed twice per hour this basically means that you’re doing half-baked work all the time.
That was the case with me. My desire to be on top of things glued me to social media which lead to my productivity degeneration. Now after I’m social media sober, I have enough time to enjoy my life and to do what I really want to do.
2. Too Much Focus on Others
My daily life is surely not Instagram-worthy. I’m not a traveler. I don’t have a fancy car. Nor I have a wardrobe full of fancy clothes. Even though I’m a vivid reader, most of my books are digital. Meaning, I can’t even Instagram how I’m reading a book with a double frappuccino on the side. I know, it’s sad.
But if you think about it, why the hell should people care about someone getting a new car? Or, about someone going to Haiti. It’s not you laying on the beach drinking mojitos, so, why all the buzz?
As it turns out, we’re kind of addicted to reality shows.2 And social media is the best reality show available out there. It’s 24/7. You have access to a ton of people. You can even interact with your favorite “stars” by liking what they post or bombard them with hate comments. You decide.
The temptation to check what everyone else was doing was becoming unbearable for me at some point. I wanted to see what others did so I can somehow feel what they felt. But these feeling were fake. It gave me a fake sense of existence and quitting was the best possible way to gain my focus back.
But there was something else besides the above…
3. Sick of All The Stuff I “Had” To Buy
What do you see when you open Facebook or Instagram? Your friends hanging out and doing different activities? A colleague reading a new book? Someone eating a meal you’ve never seen before? Nope, you’re seeing stuff you don’t have and places you’ve never visited.
Every time you (and I) open social media you add more things to your wishlist. Instead of feeling good about yourself and about what you’ve accomplished so far in life, you’re comparing yourself to others and you start hating yourself for not having all the other things you just saw online.
Basically, your life looks like this:
- Before going to social media: “I love my life. I have everything I need. Cheers to me!”
- After going to social media: “Damn it, John bought a new car. Jenny just started a business. Lucas got promoted. I’m a total failure. What’s the point of life? I want to go home and cry underneath my bed with a bowl of ice cream!”
There’s a whole theory about this. It’s called the Social Comparison Theory. It basically states that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others they perceive as somehow faring better or worse. Or in other words, we constantly compare ourselves to others. That’s the only way we can understand where we stand in the world.3
And since you have access to the personal life of all of your relatives, cousins, friends, even your favorite celebs, entering a melancholy-like state and feeling worthless are things that can happen by just tapping a button on your smartphone. Once you enter the realm of social glamour, you’ll immediately spot things you don’t own, thus loathe your life.
This type of behavior is a normal human instinct. We can’t neglect it.
But there is a way out! By stop exposing yourself in front of the shiny life of other people.
The less you see the less you will want. Therefore, fell a whole lot better. Try it yourself. It worked for me.
4. Tired of The Constant Bragging
When people share stuff about their lives online it translates like this: “Me eating. Me working out. Me sleeping. Also, me riding my new car. But more importantly, me riding my new car while you’re driving your parent’s rusty wagon.”
Social media is the best place for the egocentric narcissists who roam the planet Earth. They looooove to share what’s going on in their lives because they simply can’t get enough. You can easily recognize such people online and also when you speak to them in person. You can’t shut their mouth and you can’t keep up with their feed. It’s like there’s always something unbelievable going on around them.
If Facebook charged such people extra, we wouldn’t have to take a couple of days off to catch up with what’s going on in their lives.
I mean, Mr. Zuckerberg, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table here. I’m sure that if people need to pay real money when they want to share 2, 3, or more times per day you would not need to sell our personal data to others to make money, you can earn from these dudes.
But since the above is unlikely to happen, you can just stop supporting people who think they’re above everyone else by simply stop following them online.
5. Social Media Supports Like-Gathering Lifestyle
People use social media to feel good about themselves. That’s the main reason we’re all coming back for more. Behind the photo-sharing, shallow-chatting, tagging, and hashtagging, it all comes down to this: People want approval from others – i.e., external validation.4
We share pictures online not for the sake of showing what we did today, we share stuff so we can get approval from others. When people like what we shared this basically means that we’re are good, smart, have done a good job, look good, etc.
That’s why the like-count is the most popular feature, widely discussed by psychologists.
Even nowadays, people are living for the likes. They do their best to present their best self to their online cult. And in order for that to happen, regular visits to the store and a lot of photoshoots are a must for making the best selfie. That’s why people buy phones with a lot of storage, so they can have enough free space for the next “exciting” moment.
But that’s what’s published online. In reality, things are totally different. Online you see bold words and filtered pictures, but in the real world, what you really see are insecure people who rarely have a good time, buried in debt because of all their purchases.
What Happened After I Quit Social Media?
OK, I quit social media, and then what?
Firstly, nobody noticed. Yep, no one from my huge list of online friends called the 911 emergency number for social media threats. I mean, friends, I could have been abducted or something. Gosh! You had to call!?!
But on a more serious note, a couple of nice things occurred after my feed-refreshing habit disappeared::
- Gained more focused: It appears that when you don’t check your phone every 5 minutes for updates you actually have enough time in a day. You know, we all complain about how our lives are super busy and about how we don’t have enough time for anything but have you tried quitting social media? I thought so.
- Better finances: Since I’m not overburdened by a never-ending feed of stuff I don’t own, I don’t feel that I need more things in my life. I feel good about myself for not owning the latest laptop because I don’t know about the release of the latest laptop. As it turns out, not seeing stuff online is good for your wallet.
- More time to read: Previously, I used every spare second to check how my new post is performing. “Did I get a new like? Let’s check.” Such thoughts circled my mind throughout the whole day. Now, I don’t care because I don’t share anything online. I use my spare time to read books on my phone.
- Feel better: Before, I counted likes like a maniac. The more likes my post gathered, the better I felt. However, when my post didn’t get enough attention, my whole day was ruined. Now, I feel good about myself all the time because I don’t care what others think of me.
- More time to focus on my site: Business owners will claim that’s impossible to run an online business without being on all major social media platforms. That’s probably true if you’re a large corporation but if you’re just starting you probably don’t need to be online. You have a lot more other things on your plate. Besides, Facebook won’t bring you any business unless you pay for it. Make sure you align your priorities straight.
- More time for yourself: Kind of selfish, but YES. I finally have time to do what I want. To spend time with my kid and to do work that feels important to me. I don’t aim for likes or for more followers, my goal is to spend my time the way I want, not the way other people will approve.
Some Closing Thoughts
The main reason people can’t escape social media is quite obvious: Currently, Facebook has over 2.41 billion monthly active users. That’s crazy!
Social media is like one big party. We’re stuck inside because everyone around us is there. Even though some people think that leaving is a social suicide, that it will bankrupt your business, abandoning social media was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Not only I finally have enough time, but my mind is finally decluttered.
If life feels unbearable, if you’re always busy and if you have a hard time focusing, you don’t need to read every article on LifeHacker. Nor spend money on productivity courses that don’t work. You simply need to take a break from all the social media buzz.
Do yourself a favor:
Join Going Further: A 13-day email series on how to keep progressing in a world tirelessly pushing toward regression. Great for people who feel stuck in the endless loop of not doing.
- That’s according to a University of California Irvine study. Here’s a quote: “It takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.”
- Yep, we are. In this post, you can understand the main reasons.
- You can read more about the Social Comparison Theory in this article, here.
- Or in other words, we want external validation for our behavior. External validation means a person needs or wants something outside of themselves to validate that they are good, smart, have done a good job, look good, etc.