Minimalism and Social Media – What happens When you Unfollow Everyone?
When Facebook was first announced I remember that I was laughing at the girl that told me to create an account. I told her that I will never, ever, have something like this. Few months later, I was posting pictures regularly, writing updates, refreshing like a zombie to see my new likes. The process was pretty much the same when Twitter and Instagram were announced. In the beginning, I despised their existence but later I was using them daily. I’m sure that more than a year from my life is wasted on social media.
You won’t be surprised if I tell you that you’re wasting your time on social media. Ok, if you’re a business owner there is probably a good reason to tweet and post stuff online, but if you’re a regular dude who has not yet decided towards where he should direct his life, there is a 99.99% chance that you’re simply wasting your life scrolling and liking stuff on social media.
Today I want to talk about applying minimalism to social media and how to properly use the most addictive mediums of our time. Actually, the proper use of these channels is to not use them at all. But that’s not possible. I’ve tried several times to quit, disconnect, delete my online presence but there was always something drawing me back. I’m sure that if you tried to quit SM you’ve encountered similar difficulties. Social media is like smoking, you know it’s bad for you but you continue to do it anyway.
I’m sure that most of the people using the internet can’t imagine their lives without these mediums. They do help, to be honest. They connect people. They are a great way to spread the news. By properly using social media you can increase your business, market share. Still, we all know what’s the dark side of social media: procrastination, lack of in-person communication, time wasted, relationship ruined.
By applying a minimal approach to both the best and the worst inventions of our modern social life, I’m sure that we can find the right balance. The right formula to live good both offline and online.
Why Social Media Suck
Over the past one year, I have been trying to be productive in every single moment in my life. Not that I’m working constantly. I do rest sometimes. But while I’m working I want to be focused and 100% involved in the work I’m doing. However, things get slippery and out of hand. Sometimes I catch myself doing things I don’t want. Things that only waste my time and aren’t helping me finish the work I’m doing.
The number one reason I procrastinate, and probably that’s the main reason you do it as well, are the social media channels we all have access to. Even though the initial purpose of these platforms was to keep us connected, they’ve become huge time wasters and destroyers of lives.1
I rarely use Twitter and Instagram. The main platform that draws my attention and it wastes my time is Facebook, probably because most of my friends are using it. I’ve deleted my Facebook account several times. I’ve applied things that are quite obvious: deleting the apps on my phone and using blocking software on my PC. The results were temporary. Unfortunately, there was always something drawing me back. Probably I wasn’t strong enough to resist the temptation of “liking stuff”, or the urge of receiving likes. That’s why I decided to go in another direction. Since the above wasn’t working, I decided to find my own way to block the channels that don’t serve any purpose and only waste my time.
Here are the things I’ve been doing that allowed me to save time and don’t fall into the trap of becoming social media freak:
What happens when you write a comment under someone’s post? You’ll most probably get a response to that comment. Unless your comment is inappropriate or the person is playing hard to get. Either way, you will eagerly wait to see what will be the reaction of the person. Even if there is zero reaction.
And what happens when you get a response? Your tiny planet notification gets a little 1 and you’re eager to click it:
But that’s not all. You’ll see the response and you write back. In less than a minute, you’re involved in a pointless conversation about cat videos, recipes, clothes, or whatever. Of course, you don’t want to disappoint your friends. That’s why you keep replying to all of the comments that are pilling up. Until you know what’s happening, you’ve wasted an hour.
I’ve created a unique system to protect myself from similar to the above situations: I don’t post comments under posts, at all. So, if I sometimes see something cool, something I really like, I simply click the like button. It’s simple as that. This gives me an advantage when I see the person posted the link, picture, or whatever. I can actually ask them about this and we can have a decent conversation in person.
Ok, post from time to time.
Like commenting, when you post you expect new likes and new comments to follow. Of course, you’re eager to see more of the both and that’s why when you share something you keep your tab open for some time to see what will be the response. How many people will like what you’ve shared; How many people will comment; How many people put a hearth.2 All kind of interesting and important things that can save lives.
I don’t believe you can evolve to a state where you won’t care at all about the outreach of your new post.
Even if you do post, do it when you absolutely need/want to. Then, throw your phone away and get out. Or leave your phone in the other room and get some job done.
Straight to the point messaging
I personally know a lot of people who are constantly chatting with other people on Facebook. They’re doing this regularly and throughout the whole day. In most of the cases, they chat with one single person for hours. I can’t quite understand how you can chat with someone for 8, 10, 12 hours. I don’t know what I can tell to this person. Still, I’ve seen it. People working and having a window open for their Facebook. People who are immediately online when you send them something.
I also use Messanger sometimes. Or the DM function in Twitter. But I use it only when I need to tell something to someone: “Check out this article; I’ll see you at 05:00 AM today; I’ll be late 10 min; Are you awake, can I call you?” Such type of things. Things that don’t necessarily require a phone call.
If I’m involved in a conversation that is taking longer, I’ll do my best to excuse myself. I will either call this person so we can come to a solution quickly, or I will simply tell him that I’m busy right now and that I will respond later.
This leads to the next point.
If you’re responding to every single comment. You’re online immediately when someone sends you a message, people will get used to this and they will kind of expect that from you.
I don’t do this. When someone sends me a message and if for some reason I’ve seen it, I don’t usually reply immediately. If I’m doing something at this moment, I leave it for later. I wait till I’m done with my current work and then I check it. To be honest, people are not killing each other to send me stuff. Mostly because they know I’m not so responsive. I’ve either set my expectations properly, or people don’t like me anymore. Either way, I’m happy with the result.
Also, I usually don’t click on the messages until I’m ready to reply. I do this because people will see that you’ve “seen” their message.
Turn OFF All Notifications
It’s needless to say that if you want to be productive and still use social media you should turn off all kind of notifications on your phone. If you’re distracted every time you receive a new message or a tweet, you will waste a lot of your precious time only checking your phone.3
It’s super easy to do this. Simply go to Notifications and Sound inside your Messanger app and place the cursor to OFF. The place to disable notifications inside Twitter and Instagram is inside the tab called Push Notifications. Here’s a screenshot. The settings inside the screenshots below are arranged in the following order Instagram; Twitter; Facebook:
This simple configuration will bring back the control of youfr life back in your hands. It’s hard to resist not to look your phone when you receive a beep, that’s why is essential to stop and block all noises.
I’ve saved the best for last.
Let me tell you what happened when I’ve unfollowed all of my friends on Facebook. It’s kind of wired saying this. If they’re reading this they probably hate me right now. Still, if they are my real friends they will understand.
Drastic time call for drastic measures. I’m trying to be uber productive for most of my day. But every now and then I will open Facebook and I will waste a good hour doing nothing meaningful. Simply scrolling through pictures and liking stuff. I’ve done this for the last few years. Even though I understood the problem. I understood why I need to stop visiting Facebook (and the other social media channels) when I’m working on a new article, I’m still doing it sometimes. I’ve tried different things but nothing worked. I was still curious and I wanted to see the latest updates.
One day I decided that I will unfollow everyone on Facebook. Unlike every single page, I’ve liked throughout the years.
I decided that I will spend 10 minutes per day unfollowing people and pages. I took probably three months till I got this message:
Cool, right. Now even if I open Facebook, I won’t see anything 😀
It’s like locking your refrigerator and throwing away the key if you’re trying to lose weight. I was desperate move but it worked. Now I’m even more productive while I write simply because I have even fewer distractions.
You might ask about the other social media channels: Twitter and Instagram. Fortunately, I don’t quite use those. I follow only a few people there. People like Elon Musk and TheMinimalist. People who inspire me to do better work + my girl. She will hate me if we’re not connected there.
Purpose of Social Media
If you don’t think that the things above will work for you, or worse, you think that all this fuss about quitting social media is overrated, think about this for a while: Why are you using social media? What’s your purpose?
Are you trying to boost your ego by posting your best moments and making people jealous?
Are you using social media to avoid doing other work? Or in other words, to procrastinate?
Or, you mindful when visiting social media? – I mean, only visiting when you want to check something quick or you want to message something to someone?
When you understand why you’ve been using social media till now, you will understand towards where you should focus your efforts to lower the negative influence of these channels in your life. That’s of course if you consider them a problem at all. A lot of people think that they are an important part of their lives that why they never make an attempt to change anything.
If you’re currently using Facebook to add pictures and feel good about yourself, then you obviously have a self-confidence issue which you have to address.
If after you’ve read the above you think that I’m an anti-social person who hates people you’ll be probably right. I don’t go out much but I do love deep, interesting conversation. However, I prefer speaking with someone in-person than chatting with him on social media. It would be nice if I can actually meet the people I interview, but my current location is not allowing me.
Nevertheless, my opinion is that social media channels are wasting a lot of our limited time on this planet and we should be more intentional when using these platforms. They definitely help and there are a lot of benefits, but you should be careful when you use them. I see far too many people who are scrolling through their phones endlessly. Something I don’t quite get, nor I think it’s healthy. Social Media is consuming a large amount of our daily life and if we don’t do something about it we’ll soon end up irreversibly addicted.
Also want to mention:
Sorry friends. If you’re reading this, you now know that I no longer follow you on Facebook and probably over the other social media channels. Nevertheless, I will be glad if we remain friends in the real world.
We can talk about the influence of social media a lot. But here I want to focus on the things I’ve done that kept me away from using these platforms.
Before was simple. We only had the Like button. Now, you have the option to choose between a couple of options and if don’t put a heart to your best friends new post, you better prepare for an argument. I’ve seen it.
Actually, I’ve read a couple of articles that explain that you need at least 15 minutes to get back in working mode when you’re distracted. I do agree with these statements 100%.