It’s November. I’ve been off social media since July. It’s been revelatory for my mental health to not lay down in bed and whip out my phone to scroll through Twitter, or sit in the bathroom for 45-minutes swiping through TikToks or my friends’ Instagram stories (sorry friends, I love you, but I don’t need to see your baby with a filter on its face again).
This was hard for me… the reason I’m in the career I am today is because of social media. I spent most of my teens trawling through forums, editing CSS in MySpace, messaging friends on MSN Messenger, and liking photos on Bebo. My internet buddies are the ones who gave me free mentorship, encouraged my personal growth, and inspired me to become a better designer. Purposely removing myself from these spaces is a tough decision, but one that I need (and encourage others) to do for my mental health.
The idea of social media is great. Like-minded people having conversations, sharing their lives, and bridging physical gaps through digital closeness. But it doesn’t work that way. The success of these products is measured on engagement – regardless of where that engagement comes from. Outrage generates clicks. Negativity generates conversation. People sharing videos of their amazing lives (which aren’t really amazing) sets unrealistic expectations for people to strive for. It’s a vicious cycle that makes people feel worse about themselves and makes people lash out on one another. Hurt people hurt people.
Back in July, my negative feelings about social media bubbled up to the top. I noticed that the more time I spent on social media the worse I felt. I didn’t get pleasure from it in the way I get from reading a book, forming real-life bonds, watching a movie, or playing with my cats.
So I quit cold turkey. I started talking with my real life friends more. I started reading news from sources like Associated Press, Dense Discovery, Nice News, and Reasons to be Cheerful. My phone use has dropped and I don’t feel any less aware than I did when I was on Twitter every day – in fact, I feel as though my world has opened up to things beyond Twitter memes and the weekly design news outrage.
I feel better. I didn’t know that people were angry at a woman for drinking coffee with her husband in her garden, and I’m glad about that. Take care of yourself.