One of the habits I wanted to break in 2016 was the large amount of time that I wasted using social media sites. Day after day I would keep on checking Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram several times during the day.
Thinking back on it I have no idea why I became so reliant on social media. It’s great being able to see photos and status updates of my family and friends back in South Africa, but for every useful post I see on Facebook I’m having to sort through 100 posts or ads for things I have no interest in.
It’s probably no surprise that it was around the time of the American presidential elections that I decided to call it quits and deactivated my Facebook account.
What did I miss out on? I’m sure there were some local events or people who wanted to message me, but overall my life didn’t become any less interesting simply by virtue of turning off my Facebook account. Friends and family still have plenty of ways to contact me and I can share photos with only a close group of friends, rather than the large number of Facebook ‘friends’ that you end up accumulating during your time on Facebook.
The same can be said for Twitter. When I was first on Twitter many years ago I was pretty much the definition of a power user. I would constantly be checking my feed and interacting with friends’ accounts and catching up on what I’d missed when I was asleep. Fast forward to today and I’ve got a new account after closing my original Twitter account and I pretty much just follow a few accounts for tech sites and writers that I follow.
Twitter has garnered a reputation, not undeservedly, of being hostile towards certain users. Gender discrimination, political bullying and just plain hate are the sorts of things that are most prevalent when you hear about Twitter in the news. As such I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever about dialing down my use of the service and I do not see myself ever going back to being a power user or someone who is invested in the service. One way to post to Twitter without having to actually see my Twitter feed is to use the awesome Drafts app which lets me post straight to Twitter.
Instagram was another service that I decided to stop using altogether. While it’s by far my favorite social media service I was never really inspired to post much to it and scrolling through endless posts of food and travels I found it pretty much pointless as a passive user. So bye-bye Instagram!
Finally we come to Tumblr. I also started out using Tumblr quite a bit and I enjoyed reading through posts of other foreigners living in Japan. The fact that Yahoo was hacked and 500 million accounts were compromised made me rethink whether I wanted to continue using their services such as Flickr and Tumblr. What’s scary is that this is the second time they have been hacked.
Looking back on how much I used to rely on checking social media every day, I’m glad that I’ve scaled back on the time I spend checking social media. It leaves me free to make better use of my time. I can read a book, catch up on Netflix series I’ve been meaning to watch and to also get cracking with my gaming backlog. It really helps you to focus on the important things in life when you’re not wasting time reading the hundredth Trump post on Facebook or trying to sift through mountains of vitriolic hate mongering on Twitter.
So scale back your own use of social media and you might find that you’re far better off without it in your life.
Also published on Medium.