Here’s What a Break from Social Media Taught Me

Leo West
May 22, 2019

It’s safe to say that most millennials have a complicated relationship with social media. Sure, it’s a wonderful place to share musings on culture and to curate spaces where marginalized voices can be heard. But, it’s also where so much internet hate stems from.

Now, this is not a time to dog on social media—it’s the reason I’m currently employed, for Gaga’s sake. (Thanks ChatterBlast!) But I have been rethinking my relationship to social media as of late. In the past year, I have graduated college, obtained several amazing jobs, and moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and back again, all while documenting each event through the lens of social media.

I realized somewhere in the last couple of months that it wasn’t as much fun to check my feeds as before. They were littered with unwanted hot takes, shirtless men, and people whose names I truly couldn’t even remember. It made me depressed to look at Instagram or Twitter because I was comparing myself to everyone: What quippy witticism can I tweet out? Am I as happy as the cute gay couple in Seattle I followed on a whim? Am I documenting my time in LA properly enough?

The internal chatter became too much, and I took a much-needed break from social media. It wasn’t long—I was off Instagram for four weeks—but it gave me some perspective on something that I used daily. Here are some of the principles I’m bringing with me to my social media use to keep me sane and excited to engage. 

Mute like no one is watching

Like a very smart woman and an even smarter colleague once outlinedDoes this spark joy?

Are you ever scrolling through your feeds and come across a person or profile that makes steam come out of your ears? Maybe they make you question a recent life decision or worse, your self-worth. MUTE THEM, HONEY! Life is too short to be worried about people’s opinions or lives that don’t directly affect yours.

Follow more dogs

This is a very simple and easy tip. Once you’ve muted problematic profiles, follow more dogs.

(Of course, the world of Instagram has every animal you can imagine. So go crazy and follow a raccoon. Again, life is too short not to!)

Start over, yet again

When I deleted my Twitter, I was worried that I was tarnishing my brand. Then I realized that I only had 286 followers and I should get over myself.

In all sincerity, if you’ve had a Twitter account since high school, it is extremely possible that your current social media platforms don’t reflect who you are today. So clear the deck and start fresh.

Prioritize platforms

Many of us feel a need to be as connected as possible, with our presence on every social platform a necessity. Forget that! I used to feel the need to be on Twitter every second of the day, but I realized the constant information dump started to give me anxiety. It was like I needed to check it because I would miss out on news or content. Then I switched to Instagram being my platform of choice. I don’t have a scientific or statistical reason why it was better—it just made me happier. Choose which platform is your favorite, and focus on that.

Everybody say LOVE!

Being hateful, mean, and petty is boring. Too much of the talk on social media is negative. Don’t feed into that. Share the things that you are passionate about. Engage with people who make you think in a different way and make you laugh. I know this may make me sound like a pollyanna, but why not spread some positivity?

If you’ve ever taken a break from social media, what did it teach you? Let us know!