Lately there’s been a shift toward ‘digital minimalism’ — cleaning out your inbox, spending less time swooning at Instagram-worthy pictures and streamlining your online presence. Most of us have a social media account, but choosing not to do so will put you on a path to rediscovering the value of your time and will make simplifying your digital life much easier.
Two years ago I tried Twitter and vowed never to have social media again. I thought it would be fun to follow my interests and make new friends. A few months later I left the site, feeling overwhelmed and confused.
I still clearly remember the feeling of needing to be present on Twitter as much as possible. That’s how you gain followers and get noticed, right? Wrong. Often it’s not who you are or what you know that gets you noticed on Twitter, but who you know.
Part of me thought I would go back to Twitter one day, but I haven’t so far. I know now that time is more important than likes and community is more valuable than online friends.
Unplugging from social media was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Most people think living without Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is insane, but those who try it emerge with a fresh perspective. You might not want to shun social media completely and that’s OK. You still can spend less time trawling through your feed by turning off notifications, logging off by 10 p.m. and limiting your favorite sites or apps to evenings and weekends.
But if you’re inspired to switch off permanently, I guarantee digitally downsizing will open up opportunities and experiences in your life that you never could have imagined.
Why I Ditched Social Media and Never Looked Back …
Here are five immediate benefits of getting free of social media:
1. You have time to pursue what really matters.
It can be scary to be faced with so much ‘white space’ in your day: time when you usually would be surfing Facebook or checking your friend’s Instagram account. But ultimately it gives you the freedom to do whatever you want to do.
2. You have greater clarity.
When you’re not eyeing a constant stream of posts and pins, you can decide for yourself what your interests are instead of visually consuming everything in your feed.
3. You are more productive.
How many times have you been sidetracked by checking for messages, likes and shares? Removing the influence of social media from your life will make you ten times more productive at home and work.
4. You feel like you’re floating on air.
You feel as light as a feather, like an invisible weight has been lifted from your shoulders. It will inspire you to simplify and downsize other areas of your life, too.
5. You reconnect with people around you.
When you realize most of your online friends aren’t really your friends at all, switching off for good becomes a lot easier. Then you can spend quality time with family and the friends who matter.
How to Live Without ‘Likes’
Think about your social media presence as a whole. If you’re signed up to multiple networking and/or photo-sharing platforms, commit to shutting down the one you use the least.
Tell your friends and family what you’re doing and why. They might not understand the concept of minimalism, but be sure to explain to them as best you can you’re not falling off the edge of the Earth. In fact, you’re becoming more connected to your surroundings than ever.
Begin using alternative communication methods before closing the account for good. Phone a friend. Send a group email letting your contacts know how they can get hold of you. Write a good old-fashioned letter. Leave a note of thanks or appreciation for a co-worker.
To close down the account, start by heading to the ‘Settings’ tab. Make your way over to Account Settings and find the fateful button ‘Close your account’. Before pressing that button, remind yourself why you’re doing it. It’s because while social media may have played a big part in your life up until now, it’s not part of who you are today. It might still be useful to you, but you know better things are waiting to be explored.
Don’t panic when you try to log on next time and your details aren’t recognized. And most importantly, delete the app from your computer or phone. You don’t have to live ‘unsocial’ forever; you can reboot your account within a set number of days if you want to do so.
Wait at least two weeks before deciding whether you want to revisit the site. It takes between two and four weeks to break an old habit and create a new one. Use this time to redefine what ‘connected’ means to you. Only then can you decide with clarity if you’re OK with unfriending social media for good.
Saying no to Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Pinterest/Tumblr/Instagram/Flickr/(you name it) will inspire you to take back control of your life instead of comparing it to others.
What about you? Have you ditched or tried to ditch your social media accounts?
A convert to minimalism and simple living, writer Jessica Beer lives with two spaniels in Far West NSW, Australia.