If you’re ready to give up social media I’ve put together this guide on how to finally kick the habit for good. It is an addiction for many and therefore needs to be dealt with in a serious manner. If you’re still not sure you’re ready to give it up, you can read my story on how social media was ruining my life and how I took it back.
Step 1: Determine why
The first critical step to giving up social media is to understand why you want to give it up. I can’t stress this enough. Without knowing the root cause of how you got here, it will be harder to maintain your resolve once you finally pull the plug. Depending upon your concern, you may ultimately decide you don’t have to give it up completely.
Common reasons people want to give up social media.
1. It is taking all of your time.
Are you feeling like you never have time to get things done that you know are important? Do you feel disgusted or embarrassed with yourself after you’ve scrolled through mountains of posts? Are you not dedicating enough time to your job? Reclaiming your time is the number one reason people tell me they want to give it all up. It was one of my primary reasons when I found out I was spending up to 4 hours a day scrolling mindlessly through Instagram.
Pro tip: See how much time you’re spending on your device/apps.
- Make sure screen time is enabled by going to settings and then screen time.
- Once activated, you will begin to see the usage for various apps on your phone.
- Make sure you’re on the most recent version.
- Tap the menu button found in the lower right corner.
- Scroll down and look for the section on “settings & privacy.”
- Look for “time on Facebook.”
- Go to your profile and tap the three lines.
- Look for the settings button (it’s shaped like a gear)
- Look for “your activity”
- Open your YouTube app on your phone.
- Go to settings and look for “time-watched.”
2. You are feeling lost, inadequate or worthless by comparing yourself to others.
If you’ve read my story about how social media was impacting my life and why I ultimately gave it up you’ll know I experienced some of those feelings. The reality of social media is that people rarely ever post things that show them in a bad light.
No one wants to post a picture of themselves when there is red wine all over their shirt, they’re having a bad hair day, or wearing no make-up. I’m certainly not going to do it. No, I’m going to take 100 selfies to make sure I get the perfect lighting and the perfect angles and then I’m going to add all the filters.
Then again, maybe I won’t post anything. After all, how can I keep up with my jet setting friends who are eating at fancy 5-star restaurants, sitting in first class and happily touring exotic cities?
3. You feel like you can’t concentrate or focus on the things that matter.
As a society, we have largely migrated to demand instant gratification. Our attention spans have drastically declined from the short bursts of dopamine we get when we constantly see mini clips of something we adore. Oh, that puppy is so cute. Wow, look another puppy and now it’s playing with that kitty. Awwwwww. Now repeat that thousands of times.
It’s no wonder we can’t concentrate. Our brain never has a chance to stop and rest. If it’s not social media, it’s a news app, or the television, or video games, or texting. The superficial stimulation never stops.
4. People have told you to stop “living on your phone.”
Presuming it wasn’t your grandmother that asked you to stop playing on your phone at Christmas dinner, it’s a bad sign when your friends and family are constantly razzing you to get off your phone. This may be a sign you should give up your social media habit.
5. You’re constantly seeking the external validation that you get from all the likes and words of encouragement in your comments.
If you feel elated, worthy, and over-the-moon happy when someone likes your post on Facebook and then turn around and feel rejected, unimportant or fearful of being disliked because your post didn’t get a like, you may be seeking external validation through social media.
I don’t think all external validation is bad. It can be a powerful motivator and driving factor behind some of your greatest accomplishments. On the flip side, there is too much of a good thing and if you’re only doing some to be recognized by others, is it worth doing?
Relying on external validation for your happiness has shown time and time again to be detrimental to basic human well-being. It can cause anxiety, fear, and conforming to the ideas, wants, or needs of others even if it ultimately hurts you. If you think external validation might be a reason to limit or stop social media, you wouldn’t be alone.
6. You are concerned about your privacy and the data all the apps have on you.
It’s bad enough the creepy ads that follow you all across the internet are constantly popping up in your Facebook feed or your Instagram account (especially if you accidentally clicked on that clickbait article about some random horrible medical disease). Now Google thinks you want information about a whole host of related medications and serves up horror stories about related weird diseases that you don’t have.
Next, come the eerie moments when you were only “talking” about some random thing with your friends and five minutes later an ad for it is showing up in your feed. Coincidence? Maybe.
How about the permission you grant the apps to “read” and “write” to your photos? It’s only so you can take cute pictures with dog ears right? They don’t want that data to mine for brands you might like or read your private messages? … Right? … Right?
7. You can’t stand seeing endless posts about your best friend’s political beliefs, food updates or Megan Markle obsession.
There is good news on this one. Depending on what app is causing you the most heartburn, you may have the option to “mute” or “hide-alerts” for the most common offenders on your friend lists without them even knowing. This works greats for people who don’t want to give up social media but also don’t want to hurt their friend’s feelings. Before you take the extra step of deleting your account for good, see if you can limit your exposure to the thing that is causing you the most pain.
Pro-tip: Try these quick tips to limit what you see from your friends.
- Hide individual posts/friends: Click the drop-down arrow at the top right of any post in your news feed. Choose either, “hide post,” or “unfollow” so you stay friends but no longer see the post/friend in your feed.
- Bonus: Facebook released a new feature in the “preferences” section to create a personal news feed!
- Hide a post: Click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner. Then choose “mute posts”, “mute story” or “mute posts and stories”.
- Bonus: You can still go directly to their profile and see what they’re up too and your friend will never know they’ve been muted (unless of course you never like another one of their photos again and you were previously liking all of them. 😉 )
- To mute a tweet: Click on the down carrot button and click mute.
- To mute a profile: Find the person you want to mute and click on the three dots. Choose mute.
Other reasons you may want to give up social media.
- You can’t decide what is and is not fake news anymore.
- You find yourself turning into a jerk and berating others in the comments section.
- You’re worried it’s ruining your friendships.
- You don’t have anything to talk about with your friends anymore because you already saw it online.
- You’re lonely even though you have a ton of “friends.”
- You don’t have the energy to feign interest in all your friends/ acquaintances/ co-worker’s lives anymore.
- You don’t spend enough time in real life with your friends and family.
- You are forsaking physical fitness activities to monitor your social media accounts.
There are many other reasons you may have for wanting to give up social media. Once you find which one(s) apply to you, you’ll be able to set up a strategy to fix the issue.
Step 2: Determine what you’ll be giving up.
Making a list of what you’ll give up
Now that you’ve determined your “why” for wanting to eliminate or reduce your social media time, it’s time to define exactly what “giving it up” means.
- First, write down every app you use that you feel needs to have a change.
- Next, capture exactly what you want your usage to be going forward. For example, do you want it completely out of your life or is there a way to limit how much time you use it or “mute” certain individuals.
Here is an example of what it might look like:
|Mute /unfriend people that aren’t a key part |
of your life.
Delete Facebook Messenger.
Unsubscribe from all news feeds.
Limit usage to your desktop only.
|Add a limit to screen time in IOS 12+ to|
30 minutes per day.
Limit usage to your desktop only.
|You Tube||Limit to 1 hour on Saturdays. |
Limit usage to your desktop only.
You may also decide to expand your list and add other technology items that you feel you’re spending too much time on. For example, video games, texting, news apps, podcasts, etc. Make your list as long or as short as you’d like. Keep in mind you may also want to try out one platform at a time.
For me, I needed to get rid of 100% of the items that were causing the most trouble.
Decide how long you’ll give it up
Once you have a detailed list of everything you want to change and what your usage looks like going forward, it’s time to figure out if this will be a permanent or temporary change.
For some people, it’s easier to pick a set amount of time like a week or 30-days. For others, it’s better to just pull the plug immediately and permanently.
I tried it both ways and ultimately I was only successful by pulling the plug completely.
Step 3: Set up a communication plan for the people you care about.
This is another key step in the process of ridding yourself of your social media habit and you have a couple of different options to choose from.
- Don’t tell anyone what you’re doing and quietly delete all your accounts.
- Announce to the world that you’ll be deleting the apps and give everyone your contact info online.
- Reach out to key people you care about and want to maintain contact with and let them know what you’re doing and why.
You may need to use a combination of the approaches above depending upon how many followers/friends you have and how active you are on the platform.
My recommendation is to use option 3.
When I deleted all of my accounts on my second foray into finally breaking my social media addicition I went with option 1. I found that many people didn’t bother to ask if I deleted my accounts and instead assumed I had unfriended them. Awkward. I also didn’t think far enough ahead to ensure I had their contact info to stay in touch.
Here are the steps I recommend in setting up your communication plan:
- Write down a list of all the people you want to stay in contact with.
- Ensure you have contact info (email, phone #, etc).
- Write to each person that you want to keep in touch with and explain what you’re doing. If you didn’t have their contact info in step 2 this is the time to ask for it.
- I recommend going the extra mile and setting up a future coffee date, activity or in-person meet-up with everyone that you want to stay in contact with. This will help accomplish a few things. First, it will keep you busy during the social media withdrawals, which is a good thing when you are struggling. Secondly, it will help you reconnect with people you perhaps haven’t seen for a while. Lastly, it will help you overcome some of the reasons you were quitting in the first place (such as loneliness or a desire to spend more time in real life with people).
Your contact/activity list may look like this:
|Johnny||555-555-5555, email@example.com||Book-club next month.|
|Jackie||Obtain contact info.||Coffee on Monday|
|Julie||Julie@gmail.com, need to get #.||TBD|
|Jared||Jared@msn.com, 222-222-2222||Write a personalized email|
once per month and visit
next Spring in person.
Now that you’ve reached out to all your family/friends/loved ones and let them know what’s going on and you’ve obtained all the contact info you need, it’s time to pull the trigger.
Step 4: Begin the process of deleting/deactivating your accounts
Many people start with this step out of the gate and find themselves going back to their accounts after a few days or even the same day. If you’ve followed all the steps so far you’ll be in a great place to avoid the temptation.
There are many tutorials online that can help you either mute, deactivate, or delete your account. Here are a few popular links to get you started:
- Delete Facebook: here
- Delete Instagram: here
- Deactivate Twitter: here (Once you deactivate, your account will completely terminate in 30-days).
If you do decide to delete the app and your username completely here a couple of things you should keep in mind:
- Before you delete your accounts make sure you download a copy of all your photos or personal information first. Once you permanently delete your account you won’t be able to get it back.
- Once you delete your username you typically can’t get it back. That means if you signed up for an account 10-years ago and you’re attached to your username, you might want to consider deactivating it instead.
For me, I found it was easiest to deactivate my accounts and delete the apps from my phone. Plus, if you ever find yourself needing to utilize Facebook Marketplace at a later day, you can always just pop right in and then pop right back out again.
Step 5: Track your progress
When trying something really difficult it’s always a good idea to keep track of how you’re doing. Since you defined in step 2 what you were planning on giving up, you now have a framework to see how well you did.
I recommend keeping a journal or at least reflecting regularly about your journey. You may ask yourself questions such as: how are you feeling about the changes, what has improved, and what further refinements should be considered for the future?
It can be motivating to see the progress you’ve made and may inspire you to make other changes in your life that you’ve been putting off!
Need more help?
I get it. Getting social media out of your life is hard. Here are a few more resources you might want to check out to help curb your addiction.
- Check out my guide of frequently used excuses for continuing to use social media and some alternatives.
- Try an app to help you kick your habit.
- Have a trusted friend take your phone from you for certain hours of the day.
- Leave your phone at home when you go to work. Gasp. (Yes it can be done and was done for many years).
Giving up social media is never easy and I still feel the urge to jump back on the bandwagon. Stick to the plan…. it’s worth it!!