Quitting Social Media Saved My Body and Brain
The effect of social media in our life, and how to protect our physical and mental health from it.
Based on a new research Americans check their phone on average once every 12 minutes, burying their heads in their phones 80 times a day. Also, they spend more than 3 hours on a smartphone per day, and most of the time usage is dedicated to messaging and social media, as well as navigation.
But, how long exactly do we spend on social media?
In 2018 the average time usage of social media was 144 minutes per day, that number increased in 2019 to 156 minutes per day. If we do simple math, the result would be 1092 minutes per week or more than 18 hours. Imagine where you can spend these hours, instead of wasting them just scrolling through social media without any reason.
So, nowadays social media are part of our lives. It changed our lives, it changed the way we interact with other people, the way we receive news, etc. We are so tight to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, that we cannot imagine our day without them.
Social media is great, it can connect you with more people, and stay tuned about what’s happening over the world. But these statistics make you think deeper and understand that we are truly addicted to social media.
Also, Siva Vaidhyanathan the author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy on his book said: “Facebook uses the same kinds of techniques to keep you coming back as a casino does”. Their purpose is to make you more active on their platforms, so you can see more ads and make more clicks on them. In this way, they will increase their profit.
Furthermore, I would suggest you to read the article about the study of Dr Anna Machin. Where she explains how Instagram can ruin your relationship. Also, the article by Sabrina Barr explains briefly the 6 ways of how social media impact negatively our self-esteem, human connections, memory, sleep, focus, and mental health.
In this article, I’m not saying that social media is evil I will talk just about my experience and research I did on social media.
How I decided to quit social media?
I was on social media for several years. I was everywhere, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and more. On some, I’m still there, but you cannot see any of these apps on my phone.
As I mentioned, social media is a great thing to connect with people, raise your business, inspire and become more creative. But besides that, many other disadvantages made me quit social media. That was my decision cause I didn’t want to spend even a single minute on it. So, you don’t have to quit if you can adjust your time on social media.
I left Instagram and Snapchat, and just deleted the Facebook app. Furthermore, I unfollowed everything on Twitter and LinkedIn that I cannot learn or benefit from.
I decided to do so at the beginning of this year (2019). There were tons of reasons that I quit it. I had different health problems, that I didn’t know the factors of those problems. I was researching different articles, books, and speeches, and found out that social media is harmful in a way for us. I believe that social media is great, but poisonous on the other hand. It’s harmful to your body and mental health.
Firstly, I started noticing that I have different body pains and problems, like pain on eyes, neck, back, legs, hands, headache, and more.
I’m a software developer, and I stay a long time on the computer. Besides that, staying a long time before or after the work on my phone scrolling through social media, harmed my eyes and long-range vision. To be honest, there is almost no good position for using your phone. The position that most people use their phones is very uncomfortable. You’re either using it with arms up while standing, or with arms above you while laying on the bed and most of the cases with a bent neck. It’s truly hard to find a good posture. These positions cause neck, back, and hands pain. Also, Researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, have documented the prevalence of bone spurs at the back of the skull among young adults. (Scientific Reports)
I had neck and back pain too for a long time, and what is worse, I had tennis elbow. I damaged my nerves and got inflammation on my muscles. So I couldn’t write, drink anything, either eat. It was hard and painful, and recovery took about a couple of months with intensive therapy and limiting the time of staying on the phone. Also, I didn’t know that I have many of those problems cause of my posture until I visited a doctor. All of them started from the neck bend, then continuing to the whole body. Imagine, I suffered unconsciously from many parts of my body just from an inconvenient posture.
Moreover, body issues were not the only reason. I got addicted, and I didn’t feel any value in my life for a long time. Do you felt that many times you said that you’re just checking your Instagram or Facebook for 5 minutes, and ended there for another 20 or 30 minutes? Yes? me too, and that’s an addiction. Addiction made me waste my time on the phone, so I couldn’t spend my time on something valuable. I was spending my time just scrolling through social media, without getting anything good. Also, I was comparing unconsciously my life to others, which is a huge bad factor for success. Moreover, in December last year, I was feeling that I’m getting bipolar disorder. Believing that could be one of the reasons, I decided immediately to quit social media. Thankfully now I’m great.
Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I could make. I’m no longer comparing my life to others’. I feel better with less stress. I’m not addicted to my phone anymore so I don’t have to check my phone every few minutes and waste my time. I spend my valuable time on learning new things and spend with my loved ones. I’m feeling that I have a huge amount of time to spend on the things I want. And lastly, I have a great posture with fewer issues on my body.
I’m not the only one that had this experience. Based on the research of the University of Pennsylvania social media use causes fear of missing out (“FOMO”). In the study, one group of participants limited their time on social media to 30 minutes a day, while a control group continued to use Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram as usual. After three weeks, the participants who limited social media said that they felt less depressed and lonely than people who had no social media limits.
How to quit social media?
There are two rules you should perform to achieve the success of quitting social media. Or at least heal yourself from that addiction.
- Start small
- Exchange that time with something better
If you think that you can just delete the apps and never open them again. You’re wrong! It’s impossible to do so. Cause social media is sealed on our brains as a habit, and breaking a habit needs time.
Firstly, you should start small! Change the place of these apps on you phone. Let's say you keep your social media apps on the first page of your menu on the phone. So, what you have to do is just to put them all on a folder, or somewhere else that will be harder to find for your finger and brain. After some time, delete the apps for only a week, then re-install them back for a short time. After that, challenge yourself for staying without social media for a longer period, let’s say two weeks. After two weeks, re-install them back. And so on, and so on by increasing the time, until you see that you don’t need social media. But keep in mind, you have to commit for it!
Secondly, exchange the time you spend on social media with something valuable, like:
- Reading on Medium.com
- Reading books
- Watching YouTube videos that will teach you something valuable
- Listening to Audiobooks or Podcast
- Meditate & do deep breathing exercise
Let’s say you spend 2 hours per day on social media. So, you stopped using social media. Now, you should divide the usage time of your new habits. Like, reading 30 min on Medium or books. Then watch some YouTube videos that are beneficial for you, and so on. The reason to do this is, cause if you don’t entertain your brain with something else, it will want and suffer for your “bad habit”.
In the end, I would like to share with you some books, channels, and podcasts that I learned from them and used to compensate for my time.
- The Power of Habit
- Atomic Habits
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- Brain Food
- Sleep Smart
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
- Zero to One
- Jim Kwik
- Matt D'Avella
- Mike Boyd
- Thomas Frank
- Tom Bilyeu
- Proactive Thinker
- Improvement Pill
- Be Inspired