My Social Media Diet – Part 1
I was recently a guest on the Art Condition podcast. In that episode, we briefly talked about taking time off from social media and what it brought me. Because people seemed interested and I had more to say on the topic, I started writing with the intent of making a Twitter thread on my experiment. It turned out to be QUITE a read – especially for our easily-distracted social media attention spans. So I divided it up into 4 easy-peasy short reads that I’ll be posting throughout the week. Starting today!
Oh, and if you’re worried about missing the next part, you can sign up for my creator-focused newsletter to get part 2, 3 and 4 right in your inbox throughout the week.
After watching the Social Dilemma on Netflix, I started reflecting on my own social media use. Regardless of what you think about the documentary itself, we spend so much time on social media that we sometimes need to sit and think about what it gives and takes from us. As an experiment, I limited my social media use to one hour a day for about a month.
While I didn’t completely remove all social media for my life, I decided to take on the same principle as when we still had dial-up internet when I was young: I got one hour after dinner to spend on internet, and I wasn’t allowed on for the rest of the day. In 2020, that meant spending one block of time on social media.
What did I do?
For a good month, I took half an hour/hour after dinner to do all my “socializing” on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Artstation, etc. – go through comments, comment on some other people’s work and discover some new art. After the hour was up, I switched off social media again and I didn’t check social media until the next day.
I kept a little daily journal during the month, to remember what I struggled with and how long that took. After day 5, I had no urge to check social media once I woke up anymore. Before that, I’d often keep swiping on my phone – without realizing it – to open up apps on auto pilot. However, I’d cleaned up my phone on the first day (because I was looking for something to do besides social media), so any swipe I do already brings me into my app library, at which point I knew I was mindlessly swiping. I should also note that I took all social media apps off of my phone and logged out of all websites, except for Instagram (because you can’t post multi-posts without the app…). I also have screen time enabled so that if I logged in for some reason, I’d get a reminder very quickly that I wasn’t supposed to be there.
Until day 12, I still had urges to check social media, especially during downtime like commercial breaks or waiting around. I sometimes got sucked into rabbit holes or discussions and spent more time on that than I meant to. From day 12 on, I stopped myself earlier and I felt more in control of my urges to check for notifications. I stopped writing entries until day 20, when I noted that I had a bit of a relapse. In that entry I noted that I felt rushed and felt more FOMO. I wanted to be stricter again.
From day 20 on, I slowly slipped back into checking social media more often again. Despite that, my use of it is less than it was before, especially during my work hours. I have since reïnstated my “social media hour” and I’m seriously thinking about taking a full month off starting at Christmas.