Choose less social media

There was a point a couple years ago where I started to feel exhausted by social media.

I loved it in college. Facebook was essential to my college experience. Twitter was such a good tool to study and learn from in journalism school.

But a few years out of college, I started to feel like social media was all a little too much.

I found myself spending a lot of time cycling from app to app, feed to feed, hoping something new and exciting would show up. Often, nothing did. And each day would have its dedicated hour — or two — of social media.

Part of this addiction was the design of the social networks. They’re all designed to try to keep you on their platforms as long as possible, checking as often as possible, so that they can charge more money to advertisers.

Part of this addiction was my own fears about missing out on important things. Constantly checking made me feel more connected, even though I was spending less time looking at the world around me.

I can’t point to a specific moment in time, but eventually, I started choosing less social media, fed up with how much time I was spending on it, and my brain and free time are a lot happier for it. 

If you want to choose less social media, my primary recommendation is to unfollow people.

When choosing who to unfollow, apply the same principles as I’ve recommended with physical stuff. If someone in your feed regularly adds value to you, keep following. If they don’t, then don’t. I recommend unfollowing a few people whenever you check in on an app.

Over time, this can really add up to improve your feeds. You'll probably see a lot less junk and you'll also get caught up on updates sooner.

My next tip is to delete social media apps off your phone and only access them through your computer. I found this made using social media a more deliberate choice instead an easy habit to fall into when I was waiting around somewhere with my phone in my hand.

I’m not recommending never using social media. Social media can be a great and fun way to communicate with the people important to you and to learn more about the world. Personally, I use Twitter in a useful but not overwhelming way for my work, check in on Facebook a few times a week, and spend more time than I probably should on Reddit and YouTube.

And, choosing less social media does mean I miss out on some things. That fear came true. But, I learned that it's not that big of a deal. The most important stuff still finds its way to me in conversations with family and friends.

I encourage you to choose less social media overall. You’ll get a lot of time and attention back that you can focus on the people and activities that matter most in your life.

This post is adapted from a weekday newsletter I wrote in April 2018, Choose Less.