Wellbeing

How To Quit Social Media And Keep Your Social Life

Social media’s reach has become inescapable. Your aunt is sharing memes on Facebook, your second cousin is posting açai bowls on instagram, and your little brother has a surprisingly woke twitter presence. 2.8 billion people across the globe – that’s approximately one third of the world’s population – are connected to at least one form of social media.

But if you’ve had thoughts about going off the grid, you’re not alone. In fact, a 2013 study found nearly half of the Facebook users surveyed had considered closing their account.

Perhaps Facebook’s perpetual scroll makes you procrastinate too much, or instagram’s aspirational photos fill you with FOMO. Or maybe it’s the Big Brother element, with targeted advertising and big data tracking your every move. Then there’s the research linking heavy social media use with depression.

While the reasons to leave are numerous, it can be scary to think that you’ll be out of the loop once you log off. “I was afraid I’d lose touch with certain people and that I wouldn’t find out about really important news or great job opportunities,” says Elize Strydom, a 32-year-old photographer. But leaving Facebook behind turned out to be liberating. “I didn’t miss the platform at all. I felt so light and free!” Here’s our advice on how to make the change without losing your life.

1. Get ready

Make sure your social circle has your phone number and email address before you go dark, and let them know that’s the best way to contact you from now on. Migrate that message thread with your besties from Facebook to iMessage or Whatsapp. And start making social plans the old fashioned way – send a text, or make a call. You might need to start taking more initiative with making plans, but it will pay off.

2. Use your time wisely

The average Australian uses social media for 12.5 hours every week. All that Facebook time could be turned into actual face time with your mates. “There’s more room in my head and heart for what really matters to me,” says Elize. “Good friends and people I’m genuinely connected to invite me along to things or I make my own plans and invite them. The important stuff always cuts through the confines of the computer or smart phone.”

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3. Control the FOMO

If you’re worried about not knowing about every party, remember that at least you won’t be bombarded with photos of the events you’re missing out. Elize says being Facebook-free is a good filter for what matters. “My good friends know I’m not on Facebook so if they’re organising a party or camping trip or exhibition they’ll either text, email or let me know in person. I find out about the events I want to find out about and never know about the stuff I wouldn’t want to go to anyway!”

4. Keep what works

Maybe instagram makes you feel inferior, but snapchat is your favourite way to share in-jokes with your mates. There’s no need to ditch all of the apps if you don’t want to. For Elize, Facebook was her main foe. “Friends suggested I limit the amount of time spent on Facebook or cull my friend list but I’m no good at moderation. I’m an all or nothing kind of woman.” She maintains an instagram account, where she shares her photography work. She’s been Facebook free for five years, and says she doesn’t regret it. “I’m not worried about constantly maintaining yet another social media channel and I’m not wasting my time getting frustrated about that ‘friend’ with wildly different views.”

Amelia Marshall is the Editor of The Cusp.