Facebook is making you sad. Twitter is the root of all your procrastination issues. Instagram is turning your friends into enemies. These are just some of the claims made against social media. Whether there’s truth in these statements or not, there is one thing we can agree on: a social media cleanse can do us all a little good.
Stepping away from the social chatter might seem scary but what follows will be even scarier – no one is going to notice you’re missing. And you’re not going to miss much. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. There are other unforeseen benefits as well. You might get a little more sleep when the Facebook app isn’t taunting you before bed. You might read a book instead of checking Instagram at the beach. You’ll never know until you try…
But how to resist the siren call of social? Here’s where help comes in. There are more than a few ways to give yourself a social media detox this summer — without having to hide out in the wilderness.
1. Delete social apps from your phone or tablet
Remove whatever app you check most – Facebook, anyone? – from all of your mobile devices. Remember, these apps can be brought back with ease and there’s almost always the option to check these sites from your browser. The added log-in step will hopefully deter you from mindlessly flipping through your feeds during free time.
2. Ask a friend change your password
Find a friend you trust – preferably one with a good memory – to change the password on your favorite social media account. Agree to a designated time (perhaps one week in the future) in which that person will email you the new password and break your social media-free streak.
3. Unfollow your “guilty pleasure” feeds
Part of what makes social media fun is following your childhood “friends” who update constantly about their ridiculous lives. They’re so entertaining! Almost as entertaining as Buzzfeed on Facebook, OMGFacts on Twitter, and Kim Kardashian on Instagram. Ahem. Here’s a tip: unfollow these pages, feeds, and friends immediately and see what happens. You’ll be a lot less inclined to log in when these temptations are missing.
4. Temporarily block sites with outside help
Spend too much time on social surfing during your workday? Block certain sites for a period of time. Apps like SelfControl for Macs and LeechBlock for Firefox will blacklist time-sucking sites while the RescueTime program will track your online time and stop you – or guilt you – from spending too much of it on social. Freedom will block wifi on a Mac completely, but you could always just manually turn off the internet or switch your device to airplane mode.
5. Make up a rule – and stick to it
Perhaps you have more self control than the average person. Create a rule such as no Facebook after 6 PM, Instagram on the weekends only, or no Twitter at work, and stick to it. If you’re an over-sharer, which is a hard habit to break, try sharing photos weekly instead of daily or only updating your status once at night instead of multiple times during the day.
6. Get organized with lists
The lists functions on Facebook and Twitter can organize your favorite people into efficient streams. Create a “friends and family” list on both networks. You’ll quickly see what’s new in the lives of those you actually care about without all the clutter surrounding it.
7. Get yourself an RSS reader
Instead of getting your news on distracting sites like Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr, use an RSS reader like Feedly or Pulse to tightly curate a selection of the blogs and sites you’d like to stay up-to-date with daily. Get in, get out, and move on with your day.
8. Input birthdays to Google Calendar
Facebook is a good resource for birthdays but Google Calendar can be an even better one. Take 30 minutes of your life to figure out your important friends’ and family members’ birthdays and anniversaries then input them into a Google Calendar titled “Important Dates.” Set each date as annual recurring event. When your calendar reminds you of someone’s birthday, send an e-card instead of an obligatory “HBD” message on Facebook. Classy!
9. Replace one urge with another
Always reach for your smartphone when you’re bored? Train yourself to do something different. Pick up a Kindle instead… or knitting needles… or an instrument… or a deck of cards…or a paper and pen… literally anything! If you carry your phone from room to room, consider docking your phone in a certain place and not touching it until necessary. Out of sight, out of mind.
10. Delete your accounts
When talking about a cleansing program it’s hard to not mention the ultimate option: deletion. If you’re ready to go cold turkey, start the goodbye process immediately. Be advised: this option is not for the faint of heart. But if you can pull it off, we applaud you.
By Aubre Andrus