I went off social media four weeks ago. Here’s why you should too

Nikhil Jois May 22, 2017 8 min

Four weeks ago, I decided to silence every little nagging voice in my head that told me that moving away from social media would be a disaster. This is an unedited story about how it went down.

I’ve been active on Facebook ever since we collectively decided Orkut was no longer cool. I was also a fairly early adopter of Twitter. This is me trying to tell you that I’ve been around these services for ages. You get the point. Let’s move on. Like I said, unedited.

I always knew I had a problem. I was taking pictures of my meals before eating them. I was taking pictures of the beautiful lake near my house to post on Snapchat and Instagram stories… I tweeted my entire fucking life  

I always knew I had a problem. I was taking pictures of my meals before eating them. I was taking pictures of the beautiful lake near my house to post on Snapchat and Instagram stories from different angles to A/B test and see where I got more “traction”. I tweeted my entire fucking life. I’ve gotten into trouble for this, but hey Twitter also got me to travel to so many places. It introduced me to some of my best friends. It was all working out in the long run.

Those of you who know me well know that I like to live by Peter Drucker’s quote “What gets measured gets managed.” That’s how I get work done. That’s how I managed to lose weight. I decided to measure how much time I was spending on these sites and let’s just say they were being a major time sink.

My addiction was even chronicled in this FactorDaily article: The deadly addiction in your home that you are aware of — and comfortable with

I should have eaten the frog first, but I weeded out the easy stuff first. I deleted Snapchat from my phone. Next, I deleted Instagram and Facebook Messenger. I also deleted all the Twitter apps and signed out of FB and Twitter on my phone’s browser. All of this started over three months ago, by the way.

The “four weeks ago…” I mentioned in the beginning was when I signed out of Twitter and Facebook on my laptop too. I decided I was not going to check my timeline/feed in both places.

Now, I’m trying to get rid of an addiction but I’m not stupid or suicidal  —  so, I gave myself a little bit of a leeway using some cool services  

Now, I’m trying to get rid of an addiction but I’m not stupid or suicidal  —  so, I gave myself a little bit of a leeway using some cool services. I stayed logged in on Hootsuite and used it to broadcast things that would help me promote the stuff I wrote or things related to my company. The organisation cannot suffer because of my experiments. Does that count as cheating? I don’t care. It worked. I’d like to think I only shared important stuff during the last month. No opinions or outrage.

I’ve read Deep Work by Cal Newport and watched his Ted Talk. To put it in practice was tough in the beginning, but got easier. I truly do not miss your opinions on Trump or Modi. I am not affected by not knowing which of you went on a vacation and I sure as fuck do not care about what you had for dinner given that most of you are fat slobs that I would not want to look like.

A tad too harsh, but I won’t edit that out.

My point is that social media was making me feel like I gave a fuck about things that I now realise  —  I truly do not give a fuck about  

My point is that social media was making me feel like I gave a fuck about things that I now realise  —  I truly do not give a fuck about. I’m going to write a proper post on this topic on my personal blog. A guide to giving fewer fucks. I need it. You can read it once it is out if you want to.

Also read: The last picture you’ll ever take

FOMO:

I had an extreme fear of missing out before going on this break and I want to see if this was justified. I know that I can’t go back and read my timeline/feed now to see what I missed out on. I can, however, check my notifications and tell you how many things I regret missing out on. Fair?

Twitter notifications after a month-long break

I also had three DMs. All three from friends. One was a concerned “Are you ok? Haven’t seen you around.” Another was a request to help market something on Facebook. The third was a link to an article that warned me against using an email service that may be stealing data. The only one I cared about  —  the concern. The other two did not matter too much. FOMO not justified so far.

So, I dug into the 76 notifications. Some stats below:

  • Random h8 outrage/I can do nothing about: One
  • Jokes from pals: 19
  • Relevant Replies to my tweets I can’t act upon: Two
  • Random people butting conversations where I am tagged : Four
  • Tweets from Airtel after solving an issue I had: Two
  • Brands tagging me to promote themselves: One
  • Concerned tweets from friends: Two
  • Tweets promoting my startup: Two
  • Tweets promoting a speaking engagement involving TJ and me: Three
  • Tweets promoting my writing: Two

Wow! That was unplanned. 38 notifications from mentions and the remaining 38 are from tweet likes, retweets and follows.

I could probably have chuckled for five minutes from some of the jokes and one or two tweets I am going to acknowledge in a delayed manner. I am always very thankful to anyone who chooses to share my writing or promote my company. It means that something really touched their lives and that they care about me and work enough to share it with others. I am really grateful for such gestures.

FOMO not justified. I did not miss out on any time-sensitive stuff.

Let’s move over to Facebook now, shall we?

Facebook notifications after a 30-day break

Eight friend requests of which seven were legit I think. Surprising. Could have waited. FOMO not justified so far.

Messenger:

Of the six messages I got, here is the breakdown:

  • One recipe video
  • One friend who asked about my Chennai event and wanted to know when it was  —  this kind of counts as a thing I should not have missed. However, I had shared a poster which had the timings of the event and he could have checked that out if he put in the effort.
  • One meeting request from a startup founder pal who needed help. I think he reached out on sms later.
  • One group chat with 25 messages from very funny Twitter pals. Some chuckles were delayed.
  • One random “hi”
  • One response to a birthday wish I’d sent a few days before the break.

Now, onto the notifications.

I’ll spare you the trouble. Zero that matter. Zilch. There was one friend who asked if an event I would be speaking at can be streamed on Facebook Live. Nothing else came close. Bunch of tags related to jokes, memes or my startup. Nothing that was time-sensitive though.

Takeaways:

Again, this is personal and applies to me. It may or may not apply to you. I am pretty much done with daily logins and scrolling timelines. I don’t miss it and I don’t need it.

For now, I am not reinstalling Instagram and Snapchat. I cannot afford the time and attention they warrant.

I shall religiously follow my self-imposed ‘under five minutes a day’ rule for Twitter and Facebook for as long as possible. I don’t think I’ll need longer than that  

I shall religiously follow my self-imposed ‘under five minutes a day’ rule for Twitter and Facebook for as long as possible. I don’t think I’ll need longer than that. I shall continue to keep these away from my phone. I really like having a phone I control over a phone that controls me.

I’ve turned off notifications on most apps and use my phone to talk, text, email, read, and listen to podcasts/music now. For everything else, there’s my laptop.

Benefits:

My attention span has improved and I am able to be more focused. This could be a combination of several factors. I used this social media break to also run experiments based on time-restricted feeding, the NoFap movement, eating healthier, reading more, meditation, and daily exercise.

My attention span has improved and I am able to be more focused. I also think I am generally happier and I most certainly sleep better  

I also think I am generally happier and I most certainly sleep better. Seven-plus hours of sleep on most days. Some days I sleep for nine hours. A miracle. I’ve lost about 3kg in the process too. I’m sure that has more to do with the eating habits and exercise though.

It’s been a fun transformation. Those of you who receive an email from me every week know about these experiments and the results.

If this helped you or may help a friend who I remind you of, share this post with them. It may serve as a reminder, warning or trigger.

Credit: This post was first published here.

Also read:

Facebook addiction actually lies in your genes

Lead image: Angela Anthony Pereira


               

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