Maybe it’s time to dump social media, just for a little bit

2 min read
Jamie

Jamie is always hungry. He also writes about digital privacy in exchange for sandwiches.

Mobile phone switched off with a red off icon.

For a lot of us these days, the internet has become our sole tether to the outside world, connecting us virtually to family and friends and facilitating our work and play. If you weren’t already spending a lot of your day looking at one screen or another, chances are your screen time has skyrocketed by now.

The internet can be a great avenue of escape when you’re in lockdown, but it can quickly devolve into a source of anxiety when you’re constantly bombarded with news and updates on your timeline.

Our dependency on the internet, and social media especially, can feel unavoidable if not downright addictive, but there are ways you can try to siphon time away from your laptop and mobile devices and into other things.

You might have delved into cooking more at home, picked up books that you had long neglected, and maybe even taken a quick stroll around your neighborhood.

These are all good things to keep yourself occupied and, albeit briefly, distracted from the ongoing pandemic. If you want to engage in the offline world even more but don’t want to throw out your mobile phone entirely, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself away from your attention-seeking devices a little bit longer.

1. Use every trick in the book to discourage yourself from using your device

You may already be familiar with Tristan Harris, whose organization, the Center for Humane Technology, sheds light on how Big Tech manipulates products and services to ensure that you spend as much time on them as possible.

Harris’s site has a list of steps you can take to reduce your time on your phone, including:

  • Turn off push notifications for apps you don’t want to hear from
  • Hide your most distracting apps in a folder that isn’t on the home screen
  • Use grayscale on your phone so you’re not distracted by eye-catching apps

2. Deactivate accounts and delete apps from your phone

If you’re not ready to completely cut social media from your life, you can always deactivate your accounts, if the platforms offer this as an option.

Deactivation lets you return to the platform, which can be good or bad, depending on how you see it. You can also limit your access to social media by deleting the apps from your phone, so you’d only be able to access those services through your computer.

Deactivating your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts can be a good way to experiment with stepping back from social media in general, a “digital detox” if you will.

3. Go cold turkey and delete your accounts altogether

If you’re determined to break your social media addictions, you can check out our guides on how to delete your social media accounts

There are plenty of privacy and security-related reasons to delete such accounts, but be very certain about going cold turkey on a platform that you use to connect with friends often, especially now.

Maybe let them know of a more privacy-oriented service, like Signal and ProtonMail, that they can use to reach you before you delete your account.

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As instinctive as it is to check your favorite websites and tap on well-used apps, you also risk feeding a cycle of stress that probably doesn’t need more fuel.

Lock your device and unplug yourself for a bit. You might like it.

Jamie writes about current issues concerning digital privacy and security and is known to interview leading figures in tech. He also keeps an eye on changes in government censorship and surveillance.