Last month I decided it was time for a switch off from social media. Throughout May I spent the next 31 days with the intention of cutting down on some platforms (YouTube), and having a complete switch off others (in a personal capacity) all together (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn). 

What happened during my social media break? Let’s have a look… 

Why have a break from social media? 

There are various reasons to have a break. My reasons were: 

  • I had limited spare time and I wanted to be more effective in its use. 
  • At times I felt ‘addicted’ – I would just compulsively scroll social media to kill time. 
  • These reasons left me feeling down and worthless, I wanted more satisfaction of being productive during my days.

Feeling withdrawal symptoms of switching off social media… 

Taking time out from social media was an insightful experience and much needed. Because of the dependency I was showing to my phone, I wondered if I would be able to have a break. 

Well, I needn’t have worried as after three days I felt no urge to see what was happening on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. 

How did I manage to stay off social media when I have to use it for my job? 

Because my day job requires me to manage the team’s social media accounts, I would see what was happening in “trending” on Twitter. On occasion I would get caught in a click bait trap, following through on a headline without thinking, but I wouldn’t stay long as it reaffirmed what I already believed – it was trash. 

Trivial information…, outrage…, my world isn’t enrichened by any of this content and I felt sorry for the smart, intelligent professionals on my timeline, being drawn into and getting upset over politics. 

All this did was reaffirm that not being on social media was a good thing, and I debated when I returned would I have anything to offer others that makes spending time on social media a worthwhile investment. 

It was an interesting conflict being required to use social media for my job, as it guaranteed I was using Twitter and LinkedIn 5 days a week. 

I Switched Off Social Media For 31 Days: How Did I Survive?

Also during the month of May my team launched a massive social media campaign, which involved: 

  • Writing a social media strategy.
  • A social media plan.
  • Talking to colleagues about social media.
  • Writing and editing my own social media content.
  • Collecting content from others and editing into Tweets and a LinkedIn blog post.

And when you consider I wrote a comprehensive post about how social media impacts your wellbeing, despite being switch off, it was an amusing irony I was more connected than ever with social media monopolising my thoughts! 

The campaign turned out to be a massive success and I felt myself drawn into the rush of receiving lots of engagement and impressions. This was quite an addictive feeling that pulled me into keep in touch with what was happening.

Ed Latimore said it best:

“Engagement is the new cocaine” 

What I wanted to get out of switching off from social media 

In order to set a measurement of success, I defined what I was wanting to get from being off social media. The list below explains what these were and how I got on: 

Being more attentive to my family 

Because social media steals your attention, you are being robbed of observing other moments in your life, whether it’s being present to get involved in your children’s play, or dreaming from a window of a train and capturing a moment of a kestrel on it’s hunt. 

Although I feel I have been more attentive, I hold myself accountable that I let myself get distracted by other pursuits. The message is clear – it’s on me to keep focused. 

During those 31 days I’ve taken more opportunity to enjoy moments with my family – I even enjoyed seeing my kids watch TV just to see the expressions on their faces as they react to the content. 

Put more focus on hobbies, interests and goals 

As much as I love blogging, it’s been a struggle to keep up – but keeping off social media wasn’t the solution I hoped it would be. There were odd wins – times I might be pressed against a glowing screen were replaced with a book, or doing some desktop research. 

I realise how I use social media – in short bursts, isn’t suitable quality time that I use to write (I much prefer having a good hour+ of focus time).

To deal with being overwhelmed, I decided to stop stubbornly pressing on and take a blog break which has been beneficial to get me back on schedule and stop rushing on publication day! 

Not feel down as much 

“Do I experience mental issues due to social media, or do I use social media because of mental health issues?” 

It was a question I pondered in my post asking whether social media was the evil impacting the wellbeing of the world. 

From my own switch off, it’s questionable whether it makes a difference, and days where I suffered more stress and pressure, increased the chance I switched off from my surroundings and would bury my head in my phone. 

But something was evidently clear – social media isn’t the place to go if you want to feel better about yourself! 

Perfect Manifesto: Do I experience mental health issues due to social media or… so I use sociel media because of mental health issues?

Rely less on social media as a form of entertainment 

From looking at Facebook to scroll through dumb memes, watching Instagram videos and scrolling through Twitter to read pointless platitudes and information I never asked, I’ve cut down on using social media as a void to keep a bored mind entertained. 

During the 31 days I never missed on any of this, however from my work experience it reigntied my passion with Twitter and it made me want to come back and create more content rather than consume it. 

Achieve a small number of tasks because I’ve been “too busy” to do them 

Taking time off social media hasn’t been the solution to be more productive, but it has inspired me to going back to writing all my small jobs into a blue book

Yes you are correct – this is not achieving small tasks, but it’s a start, and having time “off phone” allowed me the space to focus on other distractions like putting pen to paper and writing the list in the first place! 

Just doing this will do wonders for my wellbeing as it takes the pressure of trying to remember all the things I need to do. 

Perfect Manifesto: Switch off social media? Why not switch off social media?

How successful was the social media experiment? 

Although I slipped every so often, I don’t have a yearning appetite that calls for me to return – I  don’t feel like I’ve missed much, and what I did? Well as they say – ignorance is bliss

Because of this I’ve learnt I’m not addicted to social media, and if we’re using the ability to stay switched off indulging in pointless information as a measure, then I would say I’m pretty successful. 

There are warning signs though, I find I’m drawn to cues that get me scrolling – for example I went to use the timer on my phone to cook a steak, got distracted by a notification and forgot the primary purpose I had switched on in the first place! 

That is why I turned off all notifications – though Instagram was a tryer, going back to old methods sending me an email to tell me about all the things I’m missing… 

This emphasises the importance of getting your phone (or other electronic devices out of your sight), uninstall apps and switch off notifications – then if you still feel the urge find other tasks to distract you like reading, writing, housework. 

Conclusion 

Going forward I’d like to keep up the momentum from my cut back. I don’t feel a pressing need that I have anything to say, but when I do return I’d like to approach it with a bit more purpose and focus, rather than using multiple apps as timewasters to occupy my mind. 

My next steps for switching off are: 

  • Keep my device out of the room at night and out of bed. 
  • Spend more quiet time activities reading and writing. 
  • Do more activities with my kids, even if it’s just asking them questions – PAY ATTENTION! 
  • Be more thoughtful with social media, focus on creation. 
  • Return to social media on a phased return – one platform, visit three times a day, spending 10 minutes max. 
  • If a social media platform takes more from me than I get from it – quit it for good! 

As a final note I debated whether I was committed enough to delete a couple of my accounts, though after much contemplation during those 31 days I realised I wasn’t brave enough to lose a list of contacts accumulated over the years just yet!

Wishing you the best in your success.

James @Perfect Manifesto.

7 thoughts on “I Switched Off Social Media For 31 Days: How Did I Survive?

  1. Well done and I agree with your conclusions. I was feeling like an antisocial leper for not having a Facebook or Twitter account. So many people ask if they can follow me on these platforms and I have to say to them no they can’t. They look at me in like I’m a weirdo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! So much of it is about “Having a social media presence” but if you’re not going to be active best not to have an account!

      Like

  2. I agree with you regarding switching off and cutting down on social media. It is a no-man’s land at times, and a colossal waste of time at other moments! It fools us into thinking that we’re having conversations and relationships, but when those happen in the briefest of snippets, where is the quality?? I’m happier on days when I don’t tune into most social media!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – I think what first soured me with social media was building online relationships with people only for them to disappear with no way of keeping in touch. It put in context how fickle these relationships can be (and at a sacrifice to offline relationships).

      Although my time off social media has ended, I feel quite content so not on a rush to go back!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “It put in context how fickle these relationships can be (and at a sacrifice to offline relationships).”

        This was telling for me! If the online relationships are so consuming that offline ones are suffering, yes, absolutely, cutting down on the online is important!

        I feel for your online losses, but we (collectively) need to know this, offline life needs to be the priority! Meta-life is enticing, everything seems shinier, but we’re not seeing the 3-D perspective we get in real life, where the dirt and unglam sides are there all the time to deal with. Other people leave to go tend to their own offline lives, it’s not a rejection of you per se, but them embracing themselves and their lives offline!

        Our needs change, as do we all, so finding a balance is important. If you had become “addicted” to your online life to the detriment of your offline life, then setting limits is wise!

        During the height of the pandemic I was posting every day and online more, since I had more time to do it. Once my offline life shifted, I found a once per week post is a good rhythm for me. I don’t set a set date to post, because I need to respect my offline schedule which can get more demanding of my time and energies. No one online chastises me for not posting on a set date, say every Tuesday! If anyone were to try to chastise me, I’d let their comment slide off because ultimately I’m the one living my offline life and that sets my priorities and my schedule! If my once per week rhythm stretches into two weeks, that’s okay too! I’m respecting myself by doing what I’m capable of, and not feeling guilty for doing so!

        Online life gets caught up in rules. “A good blogger posts daily to build their base and connect with their audience!”

        Really? Can I still be a good blogger with a once a week rhythm? I see some bloggers posting once a month. Does that make them less of a blogger? No, that’s what their life rhythm allows! They’re honoring their offline lives by living them!

        Your rhythm has changed! It’s okay to embrace it! Own it! Your mental health and the health of your relationships offline are benefiting from the change! That’s commendable!

        Like

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