Taking a vacation from Facebook
can make your stress hormones drop, but will you actually be happier? Keri Lumm shares a new study.While it was fun for a while, you’ve had it with social media.
Maybe you’ve grown concerned about how these companies use your data, following the scandal involving Facebook and political firm Cambridge Analytica.
Or your feed has turned into a constant flow of political diatribes, endless selfies from friends who love themselves way too much and colleagues who wax groundless conspiracy theories about current events.
Or maybe you’re simply sick of the phoniness of it all, with your friends faking the high life when you know it’s all a façade.
As USA TODAY reported two years ago, a comprehensive social media study in 14 countries found comparing yourself to others on Facebook is more likely to leave you feeling depressed than when you do so offline.
Regardless of the reason, you might need a break. Or your partner thinks you’re addicted (and you secretly know it’s true). Even with their massive audiences, celebrities can do it, so why can’t you?
If it’s time to take a social media “timeout,” consider the following suggestions on successfully pulling it off.
Cold turkey or limited access?
The first thing you need to decide is if you should completely unplug from social media or simply want it under control. Either option is fine. But you’ll need to figure out if you should rip the Band-aid off and fully abstain from social media, or give yourself a bit of a detox and merely cut it back to, say, 30 minutes a day.
Or maybe you uninstall social media on your smartphone — to resist the temptation of opening your favorite app on the one device you always have with you — but instead you schedule a few minutes of screen time on a personal computer, perhaps after dinner. It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario, but ask yourself what kind of a break you need. Maybe don’t officially delete your account(s) just yet, as you might regret such a drastic move later, especially with all those memories archived.
In some cases, like Facebook, you can choose to deactivate your account, meaning you can’t use it but any memories you’ve built up stay preserved until you decide to reactivate it.
Post a message to your friends or followers
OK, so you’ve decided to cut social media out of your life instead of scaling it back. Even if it’s temporary, there’s a right way and wrong way to do it. To avoid worrying friends and family, it’s a good idea to public post something to the effect of “Hey, I’m taking a bit of a break from social media” — or however you’d like to word it — and remind your friends they can reach you in many other ways. If you simply disappear unannounced, especially if you’ve posted quite a bit, it might give concern to your online friends and family.
As to your “goodbye” note, try to avoid phrases such as “You’ll never see me here again!” or something of the sort, as you’ll look foolish if you do rejoin in the future. Stay cool. State your claim. Say sayonara.
See also: How to Check if your Facebook information was shared with Cambridge Analytica
Surround yourself with (offline) people
If you’ve decided to take a break from social media, the last thing you want to see when out with friends at a restaurant or club is everyone on their devices. It’s like trying to quit smoking in a room full of smokers.
In other words, spend some time with people who authentically enjoy the physical company of others — and not incessantly posting photos for their online friends to see and comment on. You won’t be able to avoid it altogether in 2017, but perhaps figure out who you want to spend time with, and vice-versa, and you’ll see there is life after social media (for real). You’ll find life moves at a slower pace, which might just be what the doctor ordered. Enjoy the break. If you decided to take one, you needed it.