7 De-addiction Steps: Why and How I left Social Media
1. Facebook: The addiction starts
As soon as I would flip my laptop open in a swift stroke, my itchy fingers would blindly type the words “face” into my browser, till autocomplete promptly took over and added “book.com” to that, and life didn’t just stop there. My fingers immediately hit the enter button and In those 1.5 seconds from the start of “face”, I was head deep into the social media world.
Facebook was the easiest site to go to. Why? You won’t believe my #1 reason: “FACE” can be typed independently by the left hand fingers only. Try it. “News” for “news.google” didn’t compete with "facebook" for that simple reason— the one-hand type.
Opening my laptop and hitting ‘face’ was etching into my memory as a permanent reflex action. I went to Facebook as a escape from anything.
Too much work. Hit Facebook. Too bored. Hit Facebook. Feeling irritated. Hit Facebook.
Facebook was my answer to every emotion inside me.
2. Gossip Engine and Going Underground
In 2017, my Facebook feed’s algorithm changed a little. Or perhaps it was just my friends doing the same type of thing: A family vacation selfie. When I saw only posts of one kind I questioned the value of the Facebook social media. Surely, Facebook posts can’t be that non-varied? Why is everyone off for a hike and their faces are bundled into a grinning selfie?
What’s in it for me? I like that you’re hiking, but all my friends? I am bored of this, I thought. I also thought I had another feeling inside me— of not feeling safe.
Facebook made me feel like a set of eyes was on me.
Actually not just one set of eyes— many. And they moved to follow me, as I moved. They also had mouths, that whispered to each other when I moved. I felt like I was in a gossip engine. Perhaps it was truly a gossip engine and perhaps was totally my wild cat imagination, but I can’t deny that a feeling was real.
I felt like going underground. Social media chatter was drowning out my inner voice. My own voice which told me the right thing to do.
3. Instagram was better
If you want a kick, Instagram is the cocaine of social media. Instagram entered my life and I took to it instantly because I am a photographer. It was beautiful as blue waters in greece, addicting as hell, and a soft landing from facebook . There was so much going on in other Instagrammers virtrual lives, that my posts got the likes they needed and then Instagrammers moved on to other things. No one lingered. No one gossiped. No one hated. It was just pure love for a visual creativity. Facebook lost its appeal and I moved to the Instagram platform— a totally different judgement zone, where I felt judged for my creativity and not my imaginary gossip score.
4. Till Instagram became Cocaine
Instagram took over instantly. It didn’t consume my thoughts as much as it consumed my time. That was also, not ok. It became a worse reflex than my “open browser and hit Facebook” button. How? It became a fidget gadget, a time filler— so granular that It filled up seconds— even when I had a few seconds of break, I’d Instagram. I am not the only person in this boat. I’ve seen instagramming in one hand, while creating a powerpoint presentation with the other— it has entered peoples lives as a work-hour time filler ! Dangeroussss.
5. Linkedin: The replacement
The best way to get over something would be to taste something better (such is the case when you move from Facebook to Instagram), or find a replacement (like almond milk replaced cow milk). Hard to find anything better, so I chose a replacement for Instagram and it was easy to find— Linkedin. Linkedin, in its professional boundaries, created the right ambience for a social media— it’s feed was professional to the point of being just not-boring enough for me to fulfil a short addiction. It was like taking a sip of coffee and throwing the rest away— I got my taste, I’m done.
6. Facebook Deactivation
All this time while being on Instagram and Linkedin, I deactivated Facebook. I blocked it and put a stone on it, threw the key away, cleared my "face" autocorrect -- essentially got Facebook out of the door and out of my life. The deactivation was successful, till times when I had to “research” someone, and I needed to get back on it (and back off as quickly— in one breath).
Luckily, Facebook by then had curated my feed to show me only two feeds- both from professional organisations. The gossip engine seemed to have died, and I had totalled 10 months off Facebook. My interest was waining and I had Instagram to give me a dopamine shot. Facebook became an old crush that you look up once in a while to see if he’s married yet or not. Good info that I didn’t care much for.
One day, I reactivated my Facebook account back in, and with little or no realisation, I went weeks without using it! I thought it will be a ticking time bomb— I was thinking “Facebook is live and its going to whisper to me”. But no. It had died. When I logged on, I felt a sense of relief that I am not in that circle anymore, and a sense of pity for those who still “need” it. I’d say, “get an Instagram ya lazy bum”.
At this moment, I am successfully off Facebook — logically on , but personally disconnected, and the feeling is not of FOMO but of peacefullness and calm. I am no longer taking in the messy energy of a digital platform.
7. Instagram needs to go
The Instagram addiction was much easier to get off— as easy as it was addicting. How’s that? Instagram web is not as feature-full or friendly as its mobile application. Uninstalling the mobile application and using the Instagram web gave me a feeling of being _less_ fulfilled— the feature difference was apparent and the experience wasn’t as smooth. Quitting was then easy.
On Linkedin, nothing is on fire and there isn’t a sense of urgency or feeling of missing out on a rockstar offer. I am ok with viewing “Robots making Coffee” videos or reading encouraging quotes from successful entrepreneurs. Till I find a less meaningful addiction to replace this, I am happy to continue.
Summary to get off social media:
1. Get a life 2. Sorry, I didn’t mean that. Let me start again.
Summary to get off Facebook & Instagram in that order:
Uninstall Facebook app from your phone. (Do It Now).
Goto Facebook.com and Deactivate your account. (Now).
Luckily Facebook Messenger is an independent application and its hardly addicting. So that can stay (phew).
After a few months find out if you are addicted to Instagram. How do you know? Here is a test-
Addicted: Do you now use Instagram in your free time? *CHECK*
Power User Addicted: Or do you now use it as a gap filler. When you’re in the elevator. When you’re waiting for a cab. When your dinner friend goes to the loo? CHECK CHECK!
Cocaine Level Addicted: Do you use Instagram and take a break to work? CHECK CHECK CHECK!!!
If you test positive for Instagram addiction, go to the next step.
Ensure you have forgotten about Facebook by logging into it. Test for:
Do you feel curious to look around?
Is your gossip engine whirring?
If YES, you’re not ready yet. Deactivate and go back to Instagram— comeback when you’re able to check this point off. But if you test negative for this test, which means, If you don’t care about Facebook anymore, next step!
Delete Instagram app
Follow leaders and brands, and just take a step back and use it as your Instagram filler.
Transitioning from Insta to Linkedin is difficult, so give yourself sometime.
I do hope this social media cooking recipe will work for you. Till then good bye. I got a ping on my linkedin.