Why Switching OFF Social Media Might Switch ON Your Sadness: The 10 reasons I avoided a digital detox, and why you might want to reconsider yours

Social media detoxes seem to have become a popular rite of passage among influencers. I don’t think they’re always as healthy as those ‘experts’ might like to think. Here are my top ten reasons why I won’t be taking a break from social media.


These detoxes are difficult to define

What does ‘social media detox’ even mean? It might mean muting certain people you follow, or it may mean a month-long abstinence from the apps.

Is 14 days going to work for you? Or 30?

Are you going to go strictly ‘producer’ – i.e. you post to social media (essential if you are your brand), but you don’t scroll it? Produce more, consume less.

Before you even begin a social media detox, you need to decide what it’s going to mean for you. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious “this works for everyone” style of detox.


Social media highlights what we need to work on

If we take the right approach to the networking apps, we can understand ourselves better. For example, I know that when I scroll and see a woman I would like to look like, I feel a level of jealousy.

Would turning off Instagram for a month stop me feeling jealous of women on Instagram? Yes, for a month, it would.

Would turning off Instagram show me the reasons for my jealousy go deeper than social media? No, it would not.

Social media has taught me a lot about my subconscious emotions. I’ve become open to understanding my reactions to certain triggering things I see on my feed. Those photos are helpful to me, since they help me determine the emotions underlying them.


Social media and work go hand-in-hand

As a podcaster, I rely on people to download my episodes. Whenever I post an episode on Instagram, the downloads will increase. The more downloads, the more people I know I am helping with what I’m sharing.

As someone whose purpose in life is to help others, I am always going to prioritise alerting people to my work. It’s how I communicate with my audience, and how I see that I’m producing helpful content.

Gary Vaynerchuk regularly discusses consistency and showing up online for your followers. This is an approach I’ve taken, and I’ve started to develop a strong community on my social media.


Social media can be helpful

Many accounts on social sites post helpful information. It might be a meaningful quote, a business strategy, or others resonating with how you feel.

When you detox, you stop exposing yourself to the helpful things as well as the less helpful posts.


Social media is just that: social!

I love interacting online, and that’s been especially important during 2020. If I didn’t have social media, my socialising would have been limited to my parents, my husband and two dogs!

If I departed social media for a month, I’d almost certainly damage some of those relationships I’ve built.


Detoxing is isolating

When we decide to disconnect from social media, we may be deciding to disconnect from the world at large. If we’re not replacing online interactions with real life interactions, we could end up worse off.

Humans are social creatures. We need to find ways to combat the loneliness that comes through switching off social media.

The biggest irony of all, perhaps, is that a lot of real life invitations now come via social media. If we’re not tuned in online, we’re going to miss out in real life.


Damaging self-expectations

How often have you committed to do something for X days, and not reached day X? How did that make you feel? Sad, frustrated, as though you can’t follow through on anything you promise yourself?

I’ve been there. So many times.

So what happens when you tell yourself you’ll stay away from Instagram for 30 days, and you give in on day 28? I know that I would berate myself to the extent that any benefit of the previous 28 days would be gone in an instant.

If we are going to detox, we need to be realistic about our expectations. It’s also important to know how we’re going to handle stopping earlier than planned.


Replacement behaviours can be destructive

It’s important to think about what you would replace the scrolling with during an online absence. I can use some very destructive replacement behaviours. Of all those behaviours, being on social media is probably the least ‘dangerous’!

Ironically, in the past social media became a way for me to avoid some of the behaviours that would make me feel worse (overeating, over-drinking, etc.).

If you’re similar, it’s definitely worth planning in advance how to fill the social media scrolling time. If you leave a gap, there’s no guarantee that it will be filled with something healthier.


Social media encourages diversity

I live in an area where there is very little diversity of any kind. We are the white, middle-class, Christian (or agnostic) crowd around these parts.

Without social media, I’d hardly be exposed to BIPoC or people of differing religions. I proactively make an effort online to meet people outside of my real life circles.

I believe social media can increase awareness of race, religion and gender issues. Social media can be a place of open-mindedness, as well as a place of trolls. It’s in our hands to ensure it’s more often the former.

If you’re only surrounded by people similar to you in real life, social media can broaden your knowledge.


Sharing is healthy

If I wasn’t sharing my feelings online, I’d find it difficult to find others I can be so open with. Have you ever shirked sharing something in person, but found relief in being able to share online?

We all have high emotions sometimes, which we need to release in some way. There’s often a lack of judgement online, compared to sharing with someone familiar.


Conclusion

I’m not entirely anti-detox, despite these thoughts. I think if it’s right for you, that’s great, but it’s vital to be aware of some of the prospective pitfalls.

There are many ways we could end up feeling worse by taking a break from social networking apps. This makes it imperative to plan properly in advance for all eventualities.

Overall, though, a social media detox is not a cure for anything. The only way to cure the issues you have is by changing your general mindset and approach to social media.

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