The 5-step plan to ditching Twitter, Facebook or Instagram
That’s what celebrities like Ed Sheeran say could be the secret to finding happiness in a world over-saturated by social media.
After quitting Twitter temporarily in July (saying he was sick of people saying “mean things”), Sheeran now says his decision to abstain from Twitter has ‘massively’ improved his life, according to British newspaper The Sun.
“I don’t hear the positive or the negative so my ego’s not getting inflated or ripped to shreds. You can kind of stay very level,” Sheeran concluded. “It has a huge impact because of the way you view yourself and the insecurities that get brought out by other people.”
Sheeran isn’t the only star who believes a reprieve from society’s social media obsessions could be beneficial.
In August, Kim Kardashian told “Live!” cohost Ryan Seacrest that she “took a couple months off and…just wasn’t on social media,” after she was robbed at gunpoint in Paris. “Honestly, I think it’s so beneficial for everyone in life, no matter what you do, who you are, how old you are, you need a digital detox,” Kardashian said. (She lost out on a lot of cash doing it, as her posts are worth $300,000 a pop.
Meanwhile, Kardashian’s husband, Kanye West, is currently inactive on social media, and has been on and off since he was hospitalized for exhaustion last year. Actress Leslie Jones left Twitter “with tears” after trolls harassed the star with racist and sexist tweets, though she returned two weeks later assuring followers, “I always get back up.”
Others use it in moderation. Tom Hanks takes to social media as a “lost and found” of sorts, only posting photos of lost items he stumbles on the street rather than feeding into trending “fads.” And Emma Watson compares her daily social intake to counting calories.
“Social media takes so much of our attention,” Watson told CNN in April. “It’s so important to keep an eye on what your daily diet is. In the same way we think about what we eat, we should think about what we read, what we’re seeing, what we’re engaging and what we’re interacting with everyday.”
The average person will spend more than five years of their lives on social media, according to a study by marketing agency Mediakix.
Experts say like any crash diet, you can’t quit social media cold turkey, instead it’s all about cutting back in small increments.
“If you just try quit, you’re going to try to come back. It is just like dieting — you must purposely take in less,” says Melanie Alvarez, assistant news director at Walter Cronkite school of Journalism, where she’s constantly immersed in social media for more work than pleasure.
“If you spend an hour a day, try for 30 minutes,” she suggests.
It’s easy to get burnt out. Alvarez went on a social detox herself last month for 30 days. And If you follow her strict digital diet, you can expect extreme results in as soon as one week, she assures. You’ll feel less anxious from having to keep up with the Hadids or Kardashians — and feel more refreshed.
“The fuzziness of your head getting caught up in these rabbit hole conversations on social media lifts quickly when you don’t expose yourself,” says Alvarez.
“You’ll feel the differences in about a week and a habit can form in about a month.”
Here’s how to trim the fat out of your life with this moderate-to-intense social media detox:
Step one: Rid yourself of toxins
Alvarez suggests assessing what you use each social media platform for — news, celebrity gossip, stalking old friends — and reducing the number of people you’re following for no “good reason.
“Don’t expose yourself to the things you know are toxic, or will bring you down or take up time when you know you’re time is better served. Unfollow people you don’t need to see,” she says.
“You can create lists of close friends or family, the people you really want to stay in touch with. You don’t need all of the other chaos of what happens in your feeds,” says Alvarez.
Step two: Turn off your notifications to reduce temptation.
Silencing your cell phone by literally turning off notifications for all social apps will help reduce the urge to check your feeds.
“Once you turn off notifications you don’t have something shouting ‘Look at me!’ says Alvarez.
Step three: Cut back.
Reduce how much you’re posting. If it’s hourly, make it daily. If it’s daily try every few days and, for the advanced folks up for a challenge, work your way to one post per week.
“You feel like you have to post every single picture of everything you see,” notes Alvarez.
“Resist the urge. Everybody else is posting what they had for breakfast, or what their kids are wearing at every given point. You don’t. Taking the time to post is not worth missing what’s in front of you, it just adds to the bloatedness of social media.”
Step four: Interval training
Alternate between social media and other “exercises.”
Reduce the time you spend on social media to one chunk of your day instead of say, 10 minutes every hour. Get it all done at once, and switch over to real things: like making a phone call, going for a walk, or finishing that work project.
“Clock yourself. You can set little reminders on your phone — when you launched this app and half an hour later you close it. Can you get everything done in the time you allotted yourself?” asks Alvarez.
Step five: Have a cheat day
We’re all human, and sometimes we want to belly up to that Taylor Swift and Kanye drama saturating our news feeds.
Alvarez suggests not notifying your followers via status update about your social media diet, that way, you won’t be too hard on yourself if you break it — like eating pasta three days into a real diet.
“You stay in control, you know when you want to have a cheat day and you’re going to be fine, rather than announcing it to the world and feeling bad when you have a lapse,” she says.
This article was originally published on August 30th, 2017, but has since been updated.
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