How I felt after quitting social media

I hadn’t planned to stop using social media. It wasn’t a goal I had set. It just sort of… happened. In late September 2018, change came when I was suddenly made redundant from my job. I loved this job, and I had only been in it a few months. I worked long hours and had put in a lot of effort. I suddenly found myself in shock, and having a beer with some of the guys from work at 10am. They were comforting me and telling me that it wasn’t me.

I knew it wasn’t me, it was a business decision, but it still didn’t help the sting of rejection that I felt. I took the 45-min train home and I did what I always did to pass the time, I scrolled on social media.

Scrolling on facebook and instagram was a natural habit for me. It was normal to see a train carriage full of people glued to their phones in an endless scroll of their thumbs for 45 minutes. For some reason, it never made me tired. It didn’t make me happy, but it didn’t make me sad either. It was just a feeling of being.

Here I was, jobless, 3 beers in before midday, on the way home scrolling through facebook.

It was just full of ads. Ads and bullshit.

I don’t know if it was because I was happy that morning, and suddenly in a bad place, but seeing all this shit…It was starting to get tiring. It was weighing me down. Every tailored ad I saw made me angry, every completely fake and retouched picture made me question what was actually real.

Getting started

It took me a few days to think about it, but I decided I would deactivate my facebook. I had two facebook accounts (long story), and I had had them for more than 12 years. I used a feature within facebook to download all my data, and pressed the button deactivate.

Nothing happened.

I had no feelings of joy, or relief, or sadness. I felt like I had just pressed a button. I don’t know what I expected to happen, but nothing did.

It was the next few days that were weird. I would pick up my phone and subconsciously go to where the facebook app was and try and press it. But of course, it wasn’t there. I had deleted the apps for other social media such as twitter and snapchat, but I didn’t really use them much to begin with. I still had instagram, youtube and linkedin.

The next three weeks were harder. I was home, as I was unemployed, so I spent a lot of time on linkedin looking for a job. It replaced my addiction to facebook. I’d scroll instagram too, just to see what friends were doing. It did not make me feel good. I’m not sure why it didn’t make me feel good, but I just felt depressed while looking through instagram. Yet that still did not stop me from continuing the scroll endlessly.

Seeing some results

It took about 3 weeks, but the feeling of needing to check facebook was completely gone. I had replaced it with linkedin’s feeds. I realised this, so I deleted the linkedin app. This automatically stopped me checking it every morning, even though I was looking for a job. I did get another job pretty quickly which I was happy about because I was starting to become a home slob and I needed to get out.

I found myself picking up my phone with nothing to do on it. I’d swipe across the pages on my phone, put it down, and a few minutes later, pick it up and do it again. It was habitual to pick it up. Now there was no purpose, I felt stupid picking it up. I started to do it less.

I started playing sudoku on my phone during time when my partner would be on her phone checking social media. I started watching youtube videos on minimalism, habits and personal finance. These videos gave book recommendations and I dusted off my kobo and starting downloading these books. I went to the library and made sure I had a book with me on the train. It became a game for me to try and read on my hour long journey and not touch my phone once.

Letting go

November came around and Instagram was still my crutch. I knew I had to let it go. I had deleted the app, but that still was not enough to stop me from logging in via safari to check it. I decided to wait til after my birthday.

It was my birthday in mid November, and I was worried. It sounds stupid, but I was worried that no one would remember my birthday. For years, I would get hundreds of notifications wishing me happy birthday because facebook prompted them that it was my special day. This year, no one would have this prompt.

The day came. People at work got me a cake and the whole technology team sang me happy birthday. My partner showered me with love as always, but no one else seemed to remember, not even my family. Later on in the day I received a few text messages from friends. It wasn’t the usual torrent of little red notifications, and i won’t lie, it stung.

My birthday may sound sad, but I spent Friday night playing mini golf with some of the most important people that I love. We had burgers and cake and they got me some presents (despite me telling them I was trying to be a minimalist).

Things started to slowly change in my life without me realising. I was eating better, I spent less time on my phone and being present with my partner, I was reading more. I was learning things. I had taken on the responsibility of my personal finances which I had previously ignored my whole adult life. I stopped buying, I stopped consuming mindless advertising. I was more conscious of everything important verses mindless bullshit.

One very interesting thing I noticed was that I was taking way less photos on my phone. I would go somewhere and enjoy the event, and not have to take a selfie, or a picture of my ice cream, or of the thing I was at. Because now I had nowhere to post it. I just enjoyed being there.

I literally got hours and hours of my life back. I was wasting so much time on nothing. I have always wanted to write, and here I am, writing my first ever article!

I calculated that if i had spent an hour a day for 12 years on facebook (It was more likely a much higher number, especially when facebook came out with an app) I would have spent 4380 hours on facebook alone. Add in instagram, snapchat, twitter, myspace and whatever other social media was out at the time, that number would be easily more than 5000 hours.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. I was halfway to being an expert at wasting my time on social media.

It’s only been 6 months without social media. I haven’t felt the need to reactivate my facebook. I have gone to instagram and logged in to show someone a past photo, and I have used twitter to send a direct message to someone. However, I haven’t gone back to endless amounts of scrolling.

My advice to anyone who wants to do it. Back it up whatever you need and just do it. It’s worth it. The less stress, anxiety and time you get back is priceless.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Maryam Habibullah

Maryam Habibullah

Maryam is just giving writing a go, because why not? But professionally, she is a UX designer. Things she enjoys: minimalism, reading and pastry.