Our Tips for Going Social Media Free
People seem to forget that the human race existed for eons before social media began to assert itself a dozen or so years ago. These days some people spend so much time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and more that they can’t imagine what their life would be like without it. Or, more accurately, they don’t ever think what their life would be like without it because A) they’re too busy tapping out messages on their smartphone or B) they are too young to have had any adult experiences that didn’t involve things like texting, posting, liking or following. So, we’re going to step out on something of a societal ledge here and ask the question: “Would life be better without social media?” And if so, how do you go about living without social media?
Now the first question we asked (whether life would be better without Facebook etc) is really more subjective since what constitutes “better” is a matter of personal opinion. After all, one person may be quite content to never see another hashtag as long as they live while another may think nothing is better than a clever, concise hashtag and can’t imagine living without them. So while we’ll touch on how the following tips might make life better (in our opinion) we’re going to focus more on the second question. Which is really more of a practical question: how do you live a life without social media?
1. Cold Turkey
Before you can live a social media-free life you have to quit. And the best way to do that (not necessarily the easiest mind you) is to just do it. Close all your social media accounts today and face the music. Get an email address (remember those?) and use it to keep in touch or use your phone for what it was originally intended for: to make phone calls. Chances are you’ll feel relieved the first day, slightly uncomfortable the next and by day three or four you’ll need to be restrained in order to prevent yourself from asking Mark Z to forgive you for being so shortsighted and selfish. Once you get past the worst of the withdrawal symptoms though (which should take about a week) you’ll likely start to realize the real world isn’t so bad after all. You’ll also likely notice that an awful lot of the people around you spend an awful lot of time staring into their smartphone screens.
2. Cleanse your smartphone and PC
Once you’ve deleted your accounts don’t forget to remove the temptation as well. The best way to do that is to remove all social media apps from your smartphone, tablet, and PC. If you’ve managed to summon the courage to take such a big step as quitting social media half measures will avail you nothing. You’ll need to go all-in. And that means no social media icons to taunt you and tempt you. So don’t debate it or put it off. Do it. If you don’t then it’s a pretty safe bet that one day you’re going to give in to temptation and tap on that FB icon. Then you’ll be right back where you started.
Whenever you make a significant change in your life it can be confusing and upsetting. It’s usually an inability to cope with these feelings that drive people back to social media, or whatever they’re trying to quit. You, however, can quiet the storm and improve your odds of staying away from the social media finger trap by meditating for an hour every day. You’ll achieve a much more consistent emotional state and won’t need the constant reinforcement so many people crave from their social media interactions.
4. Do something!
If there is one commonality among most social media aficionados it’s that they tend to be somewhat sedentary. Even if they’re old enough to have had something of a life in the BF (before Facebook) era chances are they are far less physically active now than they were then. That would extend to you of course. The good news is that if you’re coming from a place where it seems all you ever did was social media then now you get to do everything else! So go do everything else. You’ll find that most of the world you knew before is still there (except retail stores of course). So there is no shortage of things to do and places to go.
5. Get in shape
As we suggested above all that staring into the smartphone screen has likely taken a toll on your physical conditioning. So one of the best ways to live life without Facebook et al is to dedicate yourself to getting in shape. Join a health club and workout every couple of days. Take up running, or buy a rowing machine or an assault bike. If you’re tempted to open up a new social media account take out the rowing machine and work off your anxiety. Before you know it you’ll be in great shape and you can show it off by going to real parties instead of just posting a photo to social media and waiting for likes.
In reality, the term “social media” is something of a misnomer because if you look at everyone on the subway today staring into their smartphone screens you’ll notice there is precious little socializing going on. Even people who are out together are often more engaged with their phone screen then they are with the friend sitting next to them. So not to sound like too much of an old fogey here but social media has, in many respects, created an antisocial society where everyone leads insular lives and goes out of their way not to interact with the people they encounter. Getting off social media means bucking the trend and re-learning how to say “hi” and “bye” and how to have an actual face to face conversation that doesn’t require you to tap a screen or build a wall around yourself.
7. Get enough sleep
Too many of us today sleep with our phones next to us in bed. As such (and because we also have the habit of never signing out of our social media accounts) we’re often awakened in the middle of the night by some friend who felt an unshakeable need to post a picture of their cat sleeping on the headboard at 3 am. By unplugging from the global marketing and information gathering network – sorry, “social media” – you’ll likely find that you sleep better and have more vim and vigor when you get up. Your productivity at work will likely increase too and you may even position yourself for a promotion.
Sure, if you and your friends are using LINE all day you are, in a certain sense, reading. But that’s not what we mean. There’s a difference between reading this: “IMHO hez 2 thirsty” and this: “As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.” Go to a bookstore (there are still a few around) pick up an actual book (rather than downloading an ebook which will have you staring at a screen again) and read. You’ll feel your universe expanding. Guaranteed.
9. Learn how to listen
Because social media requires us to build a wall around ourselves and focus on the screen in front of us instead of the people around us listening is becoming a lost art. It’s hard to listen and tweet at the same time. It’s hard to comment on a post or upload pictures and listen to what the person next to you is saying at the same time. But being a good listener is crucial if you want to advance in life. Good bosses are good listeners and good listeners are usually the people who get those managerial positions in the first place. So quit SM and learn how to listen.
Social media requires so much focus and concentration that it’s a pretty safe bet you’ve lost touch somewhat with your community. No, not your online community. The real community you actually live in. Once you quit social media you’ll have plenty of time to help make your community a better place. You can participate in a fundraising drive, help people register to vote, organize a blood drive, coach a youth sports team, mow the lawn for your elderly neighbor and so much more.
11. Go back to school
Nothing will help advance your career like supplementing your skillset. Technology is changing at an insane rate these days and in virtually every profession there is high demand for people with relevant skills. Now that you’ve quit the social media life it’s the perfect time to get up off the couch and take some night or weekend courses. Or go all in and get that advanced degree you’ve always talked about getting. Then go get a better, more fulfilling job and get on with your life.
12. Change your routines
If you are to make the transition to a social media free life you’ll need to change some of your routines. A lot of people post, upload, chat and more while they’re eating. What you’ll want to do is focus instead on the food. What’s in it? What is that unusual taste? Also, stop bringing your phone to bed with you. This will remove the temptation to text while you’re lying there. If you want to contact a friend call them and have a real conversation.
13. Keep a diary
Just like listening is becoming a lost art so is writing. And no, being the king or queen of acronyms doesn’t count as writing. When you quit social media start keeping a diary. Write down everything you feel as you go through the transition. How it’s affecting you and those around you. How others are reacting to your decision. Write a minimum of 500 or 1000 words per day. It’s a habit that will pay handsome dividends.
14. Pick up a new hobby
Whether you’re aware of it or not spending hours every day on social media is a hobby. Don’t believe it? Well here’s the definition of hobby straight from the dictionary “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation”. Sounds kind of like social media eh? So, now that you’ve decided your old hobby (social media) isn’t doing it for you anymore it’s time to get a new hobby. And there are thousands to choose from. Take up drawing, painting or filmmaking. Learn the guitar or piano. Take up a martial art, yoga or swimming. The list is endless.
There’s a difference between going somewhere in order to take selfies in front of popular tourist sites then immediately posting them to social media and “traveling”. Traveling requires you put away the phone, unplug from the Internet, put on a good pair of walking shoes and discover what a place is all about. While pictures of the Eiffel Tower are all very well and good nothing beats leaving the flocks of selfie obsessed tourists behind and exploring Rue Mouffetard or the Canal St Martin or the backstreets of Montmartre. You might even wind up taking a selfie or two that you can share with your friends over a latte when you get back home.
A lot of people are aware they spend way too much time staring at their smartphone screen and would like to explore life without social networking. Yet they procrastinate because they’re not sure what their life would be like or what they would do if they were to leave social media behind. If you’re one of those people who has been unsure how to live without social media, now you know. So what are you waiting for? Take the plunge into a larger world. One of wonderful people, extraordinary places and amazing things that’s full of textures, flavors, aromas, sights, and sounds that quite frankly make the emoji seem pretty lame by comparison.