For a while now I’ve been feeling that I want to spend less of my time on social media. Not because I’m bored of it or because I think it’s a waste of time, but because I am utterly addicted to it and I don’t think it’s very healthy.
There are nights that I go to bed with my thumbs feeling tingly from so much extended use. There are days when I’m too busy to reply to the 45 Whatsapp messages waiting for me, and I end up feeling anxious about all these unread conversations. Then there’s something that I do frequently which I think many of us are guilty of, which is re-re-re-refreshing my social media feeds every couple of minutes even though I know that there’s nothing ground-breaking happening online. It has to stop.
I considered having a social media free day once a week, probably on the weekend. But I’ve reached the personal conclusion that for someone like me who is so constantly connected to everything online, being offline for an entire day is probably unrealistic – at least for now. So instead I’ve begun to entertain the idea of unplugging for a couple of hours every day after work.
Embarking on a social media detox
When talking about this with a friend, she told me about an app called Offtime. This app lets you specify an amount of time that you want to unplug for, and allows you to switch off notifications and calls if you choose to. You can even customise which apps you still need access to (like your music or calendar for example), but it will bar access to anything else on your phone until the specified ‘unplugged’ time is up. It then puts a nice minimalistic screensaver on your phone to remind you that you’ve chosen to unplug and tells you how much time is remaining. If you try to access anything that’s been blocked, the app will spit out a quirky message to remind you that you don’t really need to be checking Facebook again. And if you want to end your offtime early, you are forced to wait a minute before you can access your phone again. This app was made for people like me. It is a thing of sheer brilliance.
So I’ve been experimenting with 3 – 4 hours of off time in the afternoons. Not every single day, but as often as I can. How’s it going? I felt utterly liberated, honestly. How refreshing it was to not be glued to a device in my hands, and to regain so much time to do more fulfilling things. Some days it’s actually a total mission to get up to date on social media, especially if you’re one of those people who can’t put the phone down until they have seen every single new post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat…. the list goes on, and it’s become exhausting for me.
I really want to continue these hours of off time on a daily basis, and maybe even work my way up to a weekly social media free day. Some days I might fail miserably, but I think it’s worth a shot! Maybe I can incentivise it somehow…. No tea if I cheat?
How do you guys feel about our social media addiction? Are you as bad as I am? Would you, or have you, tried going without your phone for a couple of hours?