Breaking Free: How I Feel After 6 Months of No Social Media


Instagram and TikTok logos in a trash can (made by Nathan Mueller)

Social media has taken over modern society. Its algorithmically generated dopamine stream locks the minds of adults and kids alike into a feed of echo chambers, exponentially radicalizing them politically and socially. 

Social media addiction is real for many users of services like Tik Tok, Instagram, etc., which each have 1 billion or more active users. The infinite scroll, populated with images and short-form content, is detrimental to our attention spans and ability to hold conversations with real humans.

The effects of social media have made it harder for humans to interact in any medium other than social media. With dangerous sentiments lurking around every corner of the social media ecosystem, exponential use, by mostly young people, poses a serious threat.

With the algorithms that govern your feed realizing more and more that content is more enjoyable when it is agreeable, echo chambers become more and more common, radicalizing political groups as their ideas face little opposition as they make the rounds. It’s easy to prove yourself right when the only evidence you are presented with comes from people that believe as you do.

About 6 months ago I decided to test my own self-discipline by deleting Tik Tok and Instagram.

In the first few weeks, I felt lost, I had to figure out something else to do with my downtime. I found that really immersing myself in my hobbies left me with less desire to scroll. I spent more time reading, writing, and working on various projects.

Staying productive was my coping mechanism for the withdrawal from social media addiction. However, through the months, I found myself more attentive to my friendships as I wasn’t wasting time scrolling for hours on end.

I found comfort in watching exclusively long-form, informational content, which fulfilled my craving for stimulation, but allowed me to grow my understanding of complex concepts that I would never have found time to learn in the past.

Long-form and informative content also helped me to repair my attention span which had been decimated by short-form content that lacked any sort of substance.

I watched a lot of long-form content on Youtube, however, if you can’t trust yourself to have Youtube downloaded as you quit social media, try looking at sites like PBS or other streaming services that offer documentaries. 

Even today I struggle to maintain self-discipline regarding my diet, but on the days that I eat healthy, I am much more active and motivated to do things other than scroll. 

Try eating less processed sugar and limiting your carbohydrate intake, eating more protein, increasing your fiber intake, and making sure you get enough vitamins. Additionally, make sure you’re getting 8+ hours of sleep.

Try walking (if possible) instead of driving, and if you find yourself bored, listen to music. It is important to find ways to stimulate yourself without caving into the black hole that is the scroll.

Being active is a great way to quell your desire to scroll. If you don’t walk enough in your day-to-day life, try going out for a bike ride. Quitting social media will help you be more active, but if you can muster the discipline to get active initially, it will make the process of quitting much faster.

I had to quit cold turkey, which felt like torture for the first few weeks, but if you can start to implement the strategies that I had to learn as I went immediately, your experience will be much easier and more rewarding.

A common excuse I hear from people is, “I don’t want to miss out.” Trust me, you’re not, the only information I miss out on is trivial news about petty drama or celebrity gossip. Everything else I need to know I hear from friends and family. 

Of course, social media can be a great tool for activists and other public figures, however, the dangers of social media being your only source of news and information far outweigh the benefits. 

I wholeheartedly implore you to try quitting social media for a few months. I promise your self-esteem, energy levels, human connection, etc. will increase 10-fold. After going through the process of quitting social media I can confidently say that it is an addiction, even if I didn’t realize it.