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6 Ways I Reduced My Social Media Use

I am a bibliophile who loves to read about new concepts and ideas. The next step almost always involves testing them out in real life.

Trapped!

Trapped!

Glued to the Screen!

We have reached that stage where intimate conversations are dwindling and we are seen mostly serenading our phones. People panic and get frustrated when Whatsapp, Instagram, or Facebook is down. That’s how dependent we have become.

So how do we go about taming this social media habit? I tried out a few things that have helped me immensely.

  • I got my mind ready
  • I began using my phone timer
  • I started posting on a platform that required less validation
  • I started posting less and scrolling less
  • I found new hobbies and restarted some old ones
  • I watched motivational videos and read interesting books

#1 I Got My Mind Ready

I realized I needed a change when I felt the following:

  • I was too distracted.
  • I felt angry and annoyed about the smallest things.
  • I could not focus on my work.
  • Anything that cut into my social media time (which was all the time), was a nuisance. It angered me.
  • I could not enjoy my outings. I was always glued to my phone.
  • I was too caught up recording my memories on Facebook, Instagram instead of my mind.
  • I was neglecting my real-life interactions.
  • I felt bad when I didn’t get enough comments or likes on my posts and that disappointment sneaked its way through to my real life as well, even if I knew I was extremely loved.
  • I was always comparing my life to others.

These things affected me mentally. I felt something was amiss even if I was technically “connected” all the time. It was like a bolt out of the blue. I had to step back and analyze my habits. It is also a reason why so many professional and popular social media influencers take a break once in a while. Even social media can turn out to be stressful.

My mind was ready because my body was—to step away from the virtual noise and take a breather.

When this realization hits you, then there is no stopping you.

Any change should always start from within. When you are not motivated enough, you will never try to break any bad habits. You will find trivial excuses to continue them. Another person can only force you to a limit, but after that, it is up to you.

If you are in a similar phase, it is a good start that you are reading articles on how to wean yourself from your social media use. That means you are thinking about bringing about a change or at least contemplating it.

#2 Keep a Timer

There are apps out there that lock your phone for a while to help you restrict usage. I have never tried them out. I only relied on my simple phone timer.

What I did:

  1. Set my timer to 50 minutes.
  2. Flipped my phone so that the screen isn’t facing me.
  3. Worked with full concentration. It was a big surprise to me how immediately relaxed I felt by overturning my phone.
  4. After 50 minutes were up, I took a break for 10 minutes.
  5. Repeat the cycle.

Why did this work?

  • When my phone screen was out-of-sight, I was not subjected to the non-stop notifications popping up. Most of my social media app notifications are turned off but some still manage to get through.
  • When the screen is turned towards you, even if it is on silent or DND, you will always be tempted to see what’s happening. When it is away, you are cut off from the hullabaloo. Trivia: My phone was turned turtle during the course of writing this article.
  • I learned that sound is less distracting than visuals. When you hear that ‘ting’ notification sound, you aren’t as motivated to check as compared to seeing the notifications. It might be because humans process visual data better i.e. 90% of the information sent to our brain is visual.
  • Human psychology is such that we don't usually want to disrupt or break something ongoing.
  • When we look at a screen and see a ticking timer, there will always be some hesitancy in disrupting it.

Another method you can use in conjunction with a timer is a calendar.

  • Mark a day on the calendar with a straight horizontal line when you successfully use the timer method.
  • When you complete the task successfully the next day, extend the line (drawn yesterday) to the current date.
  • When you see the line growing, you will be less inclined to take a day off from this schedule, because you are wary of a broken line.

Over time, you will start to forego even those 10 minutes of break, because you are invested in your life outside of social media.

Note: You can also put your phone away in your bag. In short, don’t hold your phone in your hands. Keep it out of sight. I now make it a point to keep the phone far away whenever I am having a conversation with someone. Pros? An intense, free-flowing conversation—provided the other person too is not hooked on to their phone.

I don't want to disrupt anything. We never conceive of our products as disruptive - we don't look at something and say, 'Let's disrupt that.' It's always about how we can evolve this and make this better.

— Evan Spiegel

#3 I Started Posting on a Platform That Did Not Require Much Validation.. or Responses

I constantly expected my friends—even the not-so-close ones—to give me validation on social media. On hindsight, I realize I was putting a lot of pressure on them to act like a robot. Forcing or expecting people to do what you like all the time is the worst type of pressure. The end result can only be bitterness.

To combat this need for validation, and take off the burden from others, I started using a platform that brought me the most peace–Instagram Stories. Why did this work?

  • My Instagram account was private and very restricted: I added only those who were close to me. This meant a lesser need for validation because I knew my offline interactions with these people were secure and heartwarming. It is only when we add people who we are not close to us that self-doubting and petty judgments begin.
  • No addiction to likes: In case you are addicted to likes, shifting to stories is the best option, because there is not much validation required. It is more of a private, personal one-on-one kind of interaction which can even lead to interesting, meaningful conversations. There were no more “Who all liked my posts? Who didn’t?” questions on my mind anymore. Life online turned out more peaceful.

#4 Post Less & Scroll Less

In this day and age, it is slightly difficult to be off social media completely, but we can always restrict our use.

How to do this?

  • Post Less: Most are invested in their own lives, that it doesn’t matter if you don’t provide daily updates. When you post less, you are less motivated to check social media for replies. If you are someone who posts every hour, set a timer to 2 hours, then 3, and continue till you can go longer hours (or even days) without posting. It is going to be a little difficult at first, but it gets easier.
  • Scroll Less: We have always been culprits of endless scrolling. People only post their happy times. This constant stream of sunny vibes can be misleading, making you doubt the way you live your own life. You must have been happy till that very moment but social media made you change your mind. This is why you should scroll less. Look at the top 2-3 posts, and that’s it. Stop. Get back to the real world. There’s nothing you are missing out on. The important news will find its way to you somehow. You don't require social media for that.

#5 Find a New Hobby

I started to go back to some of my old hobbies which did not involve social media:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Sewing

I even started doing things outside of my hobbies. I finally found time to:

  • Take up courses
  • Do long-pending chores

When you find something that is interesting, grab it with both hands and try to master it. Learning boosts your happy hormones. This will keep you occupied for hours.

It’s actually a core need for psychological well-being. Learning can help us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy. It can also be a way of connecting with others too. As human beings, we have a natural desire to learn and progress. Psychologists call it mastery.

— Vanessa King, Positive Psychology Expert, Action for Happiness.

Tip #6 Watch Educative Documentaries and Read Inspiring Books

To get that extra dosage of motivation, opt for a book like “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life,” by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia, which teaches you the importance of:

  • finding a true reason to live, and
  • also the necessity of being present in the moment.

The latest edition even offers valuable tips on how to reduce your online time.

Ikigai follows the life of healthy Japanese centenarians (those who have crossed 100 years) on the island of Okinawa to discover and learn the tips and tricks of their longevity. Is it any surprise that no one mentions social media? I had a smile on my face throughout reading this book. It even helped me to be more present and to cut off from things that bring me stress.

Did you know, Okinawa’s centenarian count is more than 3 times the numbers found in developed countries?

If you are more into video content, I would suggest the eye-opening documentary “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix. It is power-packed with a lot of info on how social media is manipulating you to work in their favor. The inventor of Facebook likes and former employees of Google, Twitter spill the juice on how the algorithms play a big role in controlling your feed.

My Beautiful Ikigai Hardcover Copy

My Beautiful Ikigai Hardcover Copy

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Kalpana Iyer

Comments

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 29, 2020:

Yes, social media can indeed be addictive. Thank you for commenting.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 28, 2020:

Thanks for sharing your story. Social media is indeed addictive. I'm glad I do not suffer from it.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 28, 2020:

Bill, I could not have said it better myself. An epidemic it is. All that mindless scrolling on social media is pointless. I am glad you have your dogs to keep you company. I keep reading about it in your articles - sounds blissful.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 28, 2020:

This could almost be described as an epidemic, the amount of time people spend on social media. I limit myself to Facebook. Period. And only about a half-hour on that site. I would much rather be outside walking my dogs. :) Best wishes to you as you try to break the addiction.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 25, 2020:

Oh yes! There are moments I would think we would have been better off without a mobile phone.

Ariel Laur from New York on October 24, 2020:

I reminisce about the days when the only interruption was a telephone or a doorbell, in those days life had less day to day stress.

Thank you for all of your thoughtful ideas on limiting social media use including your movie and book suggestion!

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 24, 2020:

Thank you for commenting, Treathyl. For work, social media is a must. As long as one is not wasting time over there, anything goes.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 24, 2020:

Thank you, Brenda. Yes keeping the phone out of sight is my most favorite method as well.

Treathyl FOX from Austin, Texas on October 24, 2020:

I don't consider that I have an addiction to overcome. I use my social media a lot mainly because I work from home. Social media is the easiest way to generate traffic to me sites. I have to use it! But I'm not addicted. LOL.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 24, 2020:

I can see where this article will be helpful to a few. Those who constantly surf with no real commitment of work like we do on Hubpages.

The ones who just sit on their phones to talk...message back n forth and see what everyone else is doing.

As for me...I am on my phone alot do to sharing or reading poetry.

Or doctors/ bills/ looking up medical information/ or food to cook for a diabetic diet...seems like I must use mine for now.

But you do have valid points...one is the timer. But the best one is to put the phone out of sight.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 24, 2020:

Thank you! Your comment means a lot to me.

The Sampsons from The Ozarks, Missouri on October 24, 2020:

Excellent article. I need to implement some of these!!!

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 24, 2020:

Thank you for reading Chitrangada! Many are unfortunately addicted to social media. I see it every day.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 24, 2020:

All useful tips to avoid addiction to social media. I am sure this will help many, if they sincerely follow the suggestions.

Thankfully, I am not addicted to social media, but it's worth sharing with those who need help.

Thank you for sharing.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 23, 2020:

Thank you, Dora. Glad you liked it!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 23, 2020:

Thanks for sharing your journey to self-control over your media habits. Very helpful!

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 20, 2020:

Thank you Rebecca for commenting!

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 20, 2020:

Yes, it is very easy to get sucked in. Thank you for commenting, Mary!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on October 19, 2020:

Very well presented and helpful tips for the social media addict. It's a real thing, I'm sure!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 19, 2020:

There are many things I enjoy on social media but I have so many other interests that take me away from it. I need variety but I also know I have a propensity to get absorbed in something so I watch myself. You have given very useful tips.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 19, 2020:

Oh yes! I love nature too. So therapeutic. Thanks Peggy for commenting.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 19, 2020:

Absolutely, Ankita! Thank you for commenting.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 19, 2020:

These are good tips to avoid becoming addicted to social media. Reading books and enjoying nature is one way that I cope.

Ankita B on October 19, 2020:

Some very helpful tips for people who are addicted to social media. It is really important to limit the time spent on social media.