Why I quit social media and why you should consider it too

Three years ago, my wife and I were sitting by the beach in Mirissa, Sri Lanka, ready to watch the sunrise. I was ready with my smartphone to click a photograph. Instead of enjoying the stunning view that lay in front of me, I was looking at my phone screen thinking about my next Instagram Post.

One of the sunrises from the trip that I ‘captured’ on Instagram but ‘missed’ in reality.

The Reality of Social Media

Social media has played a pivotal role in enabling and expediting some positive shifts in our world. It has enabled new businesses, fostered a thriving gig economy, facilitated social change, offered people in need a community of support, among other things. At the same time, there is growing evidence of its adverse impact on our society.

Effects on Mental Health:

Persuasive design techniques like push notifications and the endless scroll of your newsfeed have created a feedback loop that keeps us glued to our devices.

Effects on Democracy:

The ability for advertisers to apply social media microtargeting to nefarious purposes gives bad actors the tools to interfere with elections and fuel political divisions with phenomenal ease.

Effects on Discrimination:

Algorithms promote content that sparks outrage, hate, and amplifies biases living within the data that we feed it.

The implications of ‘1984’ are much larger than just the effects of social media, but some parallels do exist.

What can I do to change my habits?

Some things that worked for me were:

  • Installing a screen time tracker, setting alarms for usage time of certain apps and using this data to gradually reduce your usage. This is slightly easier if your intention is clear and you do it with a buddy at home!
  • Removing all apps with infinite scrolling (where more content automatically shows up as you scroll down). Not surprisingly, it was mostly social media apps that had this feature. If uninstalling is difficult, at least shut off all notifications from social media apps on your phone.
  • Deactivating or even deleting my accounts on most of them. This may not work for everyone because going cold turkey is not easy because these platforms are designed to be addictive. If it is any assurance, the fallouts were not half as bad as I expected when I quit these platforms.
Social Media Confessions Bingo

Additional Readings

Social Media is Warping Democracy: The Atlantic

Weaving for Wellbeing and Transformation of Education | Learner | Community Builder and Facilitator