The idea of deleting social media from your phone isn’t a new one. I’m not the first to have thought of it, and I’m certainly not the first to have written about it.
This seemingly simple act of having deleted social media from your phone requires a surprising amount of willpower and willingness to be supposedly cut off from the world. Even temporarily, the idea is uncomfortable. Especially for a person who incorporated an online social life into daily living for the better part of 10 years. Effectively, as a millennial, I’ve spent my teen and adult life constantly connected digitally.
The interesting thing is, this change is not a complete rejection of social media altogether. But instead, a rejection of the constant stress and anxiety it has given me within easy access in my pocket.
Which is why, in this article, I’ll be telling my story of why I deleted social media from my phone and I’ll give you 5 reasons to delete social media from your phone too.
Why I removed social media from my phone
Wake up, scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Reply, comment, like and share. Repeat whenever boredom strikes (10-15 times a day). Open up Instagram stories, document my thoughts, what I’m drinking or eating, ask questions, ‘engage’. Right before bed, check social one last time and fall asleep.
All of this probably sounds familiar to you and let me be clear. My social media habits only gave me stress and anxiety and not a lot in return. They had to change.
While scrolling I would compare, idealise and adjust my digital persona to match others. This was entirely unconscious. Just like you amend your personality, likes and values to match your friends’, I did the same with the people I was following on social media. The sheer number of people I was connected to, meant that I was constantly pulled in 100 different directions. I took on, piece by piece, bits of personality that weren’t mine.
My phone became my best friend and my worst enemy. I would pull it out to pacify boredom. Constantly refreshing to gain approval from online friends and strangers, and ignoring its control over my free time and enjoyment of life.
How I deleted social media from my phone
Let’s get a little more specific. I don’t like making any ‘big’ decision without a plan. So I set out the following parameters:
- All social media apps would be deleted from my phone, all except WhatsApp (if you count it as social media), so I could still send messages to select friends
- I would add an app to my phone which stops me from seeing new emails at specific times. This is so that during out of office hours, I am 100% out of office
- I would only check social media on my laptop or desktop computer
In addition to these three, I also:
- Significantly reduced my ‘friends’ list on Facebook to only people I was willing to show my garden to (a random parameter I set for myself)
- Significantly reduced my Instagram following list down to people who I wanted to see updates from
- Deleted Twitter (it wasn’t for me)
What happened next
The first few days were difficult. Not because I missed social media, actually, I felt free for the first time in years. It was difficult because I had developed habits of pacifying my boredom with my phone for years. As a result, if I was reading a book, my brain struggled to concentrate on the words, and instead, I found myself glancing towards my phone, even though there was nothing on it to look at.
Once my pacifiers were gone, I found myself with hours of spare time to fill. I was conscious that if I didn’t fill this time with something meaningful, then I would simply swap my phone for hours of Netflix, video gaming or mindless podcasts.
Instead, I set myself short projects to complete. I fixed a hole in our bathroom wall, a hook to a door, support on a bed and paid more attention to the things and people around me. I picked up reading again, planned for the future and finally started to hear my brain working on important thoughts, instead of what I should post on Instagram next.
Without the apps on my phone, I’m only able to access social media when on my computer or laptop. This means that my time on social media is brief and I consume intentionally, instead of constantly.
For the first time in years, I finally feel in control of my attention.
As for the people in my life. Trust me when I say that nobody notices if I don’t reply instantly. They don’t mind if I take a day to leave a comment and they certainly don’t care if I don’t share my espresso in the morning.
We’re lead to believe that without being constantly connected, we’ll miss out on life. But it’s only by being disconnected that we truly live it. It’s only when we’re disconnected (even for a short while), do we truly understand who we are.
5 reasons to delete social media from your phone
So enough about me, let’s move onto you.
If you’ve been considering it, here are 5 reasons to delete social media from your phone that I learnt through my process:
1. It reduces social media comparison
While I was browsing constantly on my phone, I’d be regularly sucked into the curated life of others. What’s frustrating is my brain knew I was looking at a highlight reel, but it still couldn’t stop wondering why my life wasn’t as perfect as theirs.
I know I’m not alone in struggling with social media comparison. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s completely woven into our natural instincts. One of the only effective strategies I have ever found is to remove the cause, which in this case, is social media.
Without comparison within easy reach, you’re left to enjoy and appreciate your life as it is.
2. It helps you regain focus
I mentioned this earlier, but while having social media on my phone, I’d be constantly taking mini-breaks while working to check up on who knows what. It was basically there to aid in my procrastination.
By removing social media from your phone, you’re removing the option to be distracted. Instead of reaching for your phone when you’re meant to be doing something else, you’ll be much more aware of that bad habit and ideally, get on with it.
3. It allows you to be creative
I don’t know about you, but I used to look for creative inspiration from social media all the time. I’d look to leaders in my industry or niche, artists, YouTubers, anything to supposedly give me a little creative boost.
All that did, however, was influence my own creative work to become something that was not truly mine.
We do our best creative work when we allow ourselves to think. For me, that’s when I’m walking alone, or on a bus or train, not when I’m scrolling through social media. For you, it might look different but if you allow yourself to be influenced by others strongly, you’re depriving the world of your best creative work.
4. It forces you to be in the present moment
We all struggle these days to live in the present moment. Our phones and technology, in general, make it so easy and enjoyable to sink into another world even just for a moment.
But if you’re looking to be a little more present in life. To enjoy the company of the people around you more, or give your mind a break from the constant noise of social media, once you remove it, that noise becomes a lot quieter.
Without social media on your phone to reach for, you’re forced to be in the moment, to appreciate the people and sights around you and enjoy and accept where you are at that time.
5. It re-teaches you what it feels like to be bored
This might be a weird point to end on, but answer me this: when was the last time you felt truly bored?
With our phones in our pocket, any normally boring situation is made fun. Think about it, you’re waiting in line for a ticket, out comes the phone. You’re sitting on a bus to go to the shops, out comes the phone. You’re waiting for someone to meet you, out comes the phone.
Boredom is never an issue because there’s always your phone to placate it. Without that option, you’re left to experience boredom again.
When you experience something that’s perceived to be negative, it heightens your appreciation for the opposite. Experiencing boredom might suck, but when that friend meets you, you’ll appreciate their company even more.
So there you have it, 5 reasons to delete social media from your phone. My story might differ from yours, but if you’re here then you’re probably considering doing it. You might even take it further and delete social media altogether.
Either way, leave us a comment below and tell us your story.