This post is the sixth installment in a series where I talk through different strategies and tips to simplify (and enjoy) different areas of life. See last week’s post on how to simplify your email and check out the rest of the posts below!
Social media is a funny thing. On one hand, it’s wonderful for staying in touch with distant loved ones in little ways. I love being able to see near-daily photos of my newborn cousins and to keep up with my little sister’s various sports via the videos my mom posts to Facebook.
Where social media starts to get questionable is when it starts consuming your entire day, requiring constant attention but giving you little more than FOMO or general insecurity in return. Rather than feeling good, we start to compare our own lives to the glossy ones seen on screen – or worse, don’t see what’s happening in our own lives at all because we’re so consumed by the lives of the people we’re following.
My turning point was when I realized how much time I was spending thinking about the lives of people that had no impact on my own life. My social media feeds had become overwhelmed by updates from near strangers, and I was missing the updates I actually cared about—posts from my close friends and family. I didn’t want to get rid of social media entirely, but something had to be done.
If you want to decrease your dependence on social media and re-connect with the world around you while still keeping up with the people that are actually important to you, here’s what I found that works for me.
How to Simplify Your Social Media
1. Unfollow (almost) everyone.
If you only commit to one step on this list, make this the step. This is the most important thing I’ve done to simplifying my social media, hands down.
Open up your Facebook newsfeed. How many posts are from people that you’re close with? Right click on the gray arrow in the upper right corner of the post, and click “Unfollow [NAME].”
By unfollowing rather than unfriending, you lighten up your newsfeed while still being able to message and check in with that friend – without seeing a story every time they’ve changed their profile picture or been tagged in an album.
This is a strategy you have keep up with for a while, so start today! I unfollowed people as they popped up in my newsfeed, and it took me about 6 weeks to get my newsfeed down to only the few people I wanted to see daily.
It’s also helpful to unfollow people in Instagram and Twitter that you don’t interact with, or that don’t put positive vibes into your feed.
2. Delete social media apps off of your phone.
Instagram is only available via your phone, so you don’t have the option of deleting that unless you’d like to stop using it altogether.
Facebook and Twitter, however, can easily be restricted to computer-only use, which I’ve found has dramatically cut down on the amount of time I spend on these apps. Unless it’s related to your job, there’s no need for you to constantly be checking Twitter.
3. Resist the temptation to check your phone in social settings.
I understand the awkward, “I’m the first one here” moments when Instagram feels oh-so-easy, but try to avoid pulling out your phone to check social media when surrounded by friends in actual social situations. It’s disrespectful and limits the real connection that you can have with the people around you.
4. “Forget” your electronics at home for a while.
I didn’t realize how often I checked my phone until I started deliberately “forgetting” it at home when running errands. I enjoy being able to walk in quiet, actually interact with shopkeepers while I’m out, and complete my errands in peace.
Whether you choose to go without your phone and other electronics for a single train ride, an afternoon, or an entire day, do it and take the time to interact with the rest of the world.
Instagram will still be there when you get back in all its #foodstagram glory, and you won’t feel like you’ve missed anything at all.
5. Stop hate-following.
Almost everyone I know had someone that they followed purely to judge – often a chronic oversharer, this person provided regular fodder for mean entertainment.
While it might feel good at the time by making you feel better about your own life in comparison, the reality is that it’s a hollow victory, and it’s not making you a better person. If anything, the constant snarking and putting others down is probably making you feel worse.
If you follow someone because “they make me feel better about my own life,” just let them go. You won’t miss them.
6. Set your own boundaries.
It’s impossible to keep up with social media. There is an insane amount of content generated every second of every day, so it’s up to you to set your own limits on how much of it you want to consume.
Take a day to observe how much time you spend on your various social media sites, and ask yourself whether that time would be better (meaning, more enjoyably or productively) spent elsewhere.
Disconnecting from social media doesn’t mean becoming less social. It gives you a chance to pause, reflect, and interact more fully with the world—and the people—around you. And that’s something we all deserve.
I’d love to know what you think of the tips above. Did you find them helpful? Have anything to add? Let me know in the comments below!
See other posts in the How to Simplify series: