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Should I Delete Social Media?

Should I Delete Social Media

These days, creating boundaries and whether or not we should delete social media are hot topics. A disclaimer that my education on boundaries comes exclusively from podcasts, so this is anecdotal testimony from an Armchair Expert. Anyway, the mention of boundaries repeatedly in the zeitgeist got me thinking about a time when I actually did set a boundary. Like a champion of the internet, I created social media boundaries. I deleted my Instagram in 2018 and cleansed myself of comparison, distraction, and polarizing political content. I’m not here to gloat about the benefits of deleting social media that I experienced, I just thought I’d share my story. Maybe it will inspire you to consume content in a healthier way, perhaps it will push you to evaluate how social media affects mental health and the effect of social media on society. Most likely, I’ve already lost you to your Tik Tok feed. 

Why I Deleted Social Media:

I used to tell people that I deleted my Instagram because it was a distraction from school, which is fair, but it’s not the truth. I had just gotten out of an unhealthy relationship, entered into a competitive graduate program, was broke, and was feeling quite ~fragile~.

Every time I saw a picture of a friend or acquaintance living their best lives with their new job and disposable income, I put pressure on myself to keep up. Clearly, I was not in a situation that allowed me to keep up, so I was driving myself insane. I was experiencing chest pain, brain fog, frequent migraines, and outbursts of emotion (e.g. crying on my bedroom floor). I am not at all saying that social media caused all of this, but it was great at reminding me how inadequate I was.

In hindsight, my symptoms probably stemmed from the fact that I didn’t want to be in graduate school, felt completely isolated from my friends and was dealing with the fallout from my breakup. So, I deleted my Instagram account because it wasn’t serving me at that season of my life. It became an unhealthy habit that only made my current reality seem more hopeless. 

Benefits of Deleting Social Media: What Happened?

I like to say that literally, nothing happened and also, a lot happened. I deleted my Instagram for 4 years and never missed it. Believe it or not, life goes on. Traveling, holidays, happy hours, dating, graduating, moving across the country…it all still happens whether or not you are posting about it. 

Relationships:

Probably the most difficult thing about not having social media was being out of the loop on memes, trends, and pop culture topics. Even worse, I began losing touch with my friends. Life was still busy and I was far away from all of them. In the past, I never needed a “check-in” routine. I was missing birthdays, moves, break-ups, engagements, and new pups. My feelings of isolation were only growing, so I went old school. I simply texted and/or *GASP* called my friends as much as I could. Granted, I definitely didn’t do it enough, but it was a step in the right direction. The calls and texts became more meaningful than the likes and comments and slowly but surely I was able to stay connected. 

Focus:

I became more focused. This is a given as my access to doom scrolling was cut off, but I mean this in both the literal sense and that my overall outlook on life became more focused. Literally, I was able to do well in school, have 2 part-time jobs, and do it all within a reasonable timeline for a good night’s sleep.

I began to feel more grounded and focused on who I was and what I wanted my life to look like. I’m sure my yoga practice helped with this, but I believe that the removal of daily comparison to others’ lives was also helpful. It no longer mattered that I couldn’t afford to buy new trendy clothing, didn’t have time for vacations, and spent weekends watching movies with my parents. Instead, I cherished those cheap road trips, decided to move to Colorado after graduation, rekindled some hobbies, made new friends, and reconnected with my family. 

Maturity:

I am a millennial (1996). I grew up with the strict rule that I could not get a cell phone until 8th grade. When I did get my first phone, it was a red flip phone with a limited texting and data plan. Myspace and Facebook were all the rage. Of course, we all had to make secret accounts only accessible when it was our turn to use the family desktop. Instagram came out when I was a freshman in high school and in those early days, the stakes were low. This was a different time and I feel lucky for it. I cannot imagine how social media affects teens today.

I can’t help but feel that millennials escaped this toxic mess by the skin of their teeth. Sure, millennials are still addicted to their phones. However, I feel that many of us have outgrown social media addiction. I may be drawing unsupported and biased observations in search of a silver lining here; but, I have hope that human nature allows for more complex and mature values that take precedence over our social media presence. When we are critical of younger generations about their social media habits I think we should give them a bit of grace. Maybe they will have more difficulty answering the question “Should I delete social media?”, but the truth is they’re human too and maturity will probably take over as it did for us.

Continued Benefits of Deleting Social Media

Creating a New Instagram:

Just so we are clear, when I set boundaries with social media, I deleted my Instagram account. This means that I did not just delete the Instagram app off my phone, but that my profile of low-quality photos and college party content ceased to exist.

When I finally decided to come back to Instagram in 2022 (yes, I made it through the height of the pandemic without social media, hold for applause), it was simply because I wanted to receive more memes from my boyfriend. So, I set up a new account and we began following one another. Soon, word got out to my best friend and sisters and I had 4 followers. Yikes! This went on for months. We are talking about no avatar, no posts, and exclusively following my closest homies. It was all fine, I wasn’t doom scrolling and not much had changed. Harmless. 

Creating a New Perspective:

One day, after discussing my disdain for my career and “feeling lost” with my older sister, I received a follow-up message from her with a link to a podcast episode on Call Her Daddy. I was familiar with Alexandra Cooper but hadn’t listened since her rebrand. The episode title “To Those Feeling Lost in Their 20s…(ft. Mel Robbins)” caught my attention enough to give it a listen.

It’s embarrassing to admit that I didn’t know Mel Robbins. It’s maybe even more embarrassing to admit that she had me in tears on my commute to work. I could quote her for the rest of this blog post, but I’ll stick with the most relevant comment, “However, social media is just a thing, the real power is in you getting intentional about how you fucking use it…” 🤯. Robbins goes on to say that we can use these mediums to our advantage. She explains that we all have the ability to curate our feeds and avoid content that makes us feel like shit. We have the power to mute, unfollow, and block while also having the power to feel inspired… With this shift in perspective, I began to feel less anxious and afraid about having social media. I started to recognize the positive effects of social media.

I only use my personal account to follow genuine people plus family and friends. Not to mention, social media is the reason that I began writing and creating this blog. It is no longer a source of pain and distraction. It has become an exciting and creative outlet. Social media now allows me to grow and explore my passions. 

So…Should I Delete Social Media?

The answer is that it is up to you to take a step back and evaluate whether to not you should delete social media. Everyone has a unique relationship with it. So, I’m not expecting all my readers to delete their accounts as I did. However, I do hope you came across something in my story that resonates. In my experience, deleting social media was an incredible way to allow space for self-reflection. It was a way to become more grounded and present in my reality. And, I was able to mature and establish a more intentional mindset. If you’ve made it through this entire 4-minute read while sitting on your phone without distraction, you’re already well on your way to creating healthy social media boundaries. Now, go listen to some podcasts, get learned about boundaries, and do some maintenance on that account. 

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