If you’re ready to quit social media, you’re not alone
My 11-year-old is a huge Travis Scott fan. He can recite every word of Sicko Mode (he tells me he only sings the clean version). When the Travis Scott meal launched at McDonald's, he wanted me to take him to buy the Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, and lettuce, a Sprite, and fries with BBQ sauce. Forget that he doesn’t like burgers. He wanted it based on the hype.
I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know who he was until recently — I’m clearly not keeping up with the Kardashians (Scott is Kylie Jenner’s ex, and the two co-parent a young girl named Stormi).
When my son came downstairs a day or so ago to tell me Travis Scott quit Instagram over some trolls’ comments, I instantly thought how no one is immune to haters.
CNN reported Travis Scott deleted his Instagram account with 34 million followers after posting a picture of himself dressed as Batman for Halloween. Many people mocked the brown costume saying it looked more like a cockroach than the superhero. In the days since, others have claimed the reporting is untrue, and he abruptly quit the platform to spend more time with his family.
Either way, it’s a powerful example to my son and the rest of us that no one is free from the pressure to receive likes and positive comments from fans (friends in my world). Sometimes we have to take drastic measures to protect ourselves from the dark side of sharing our lives publicly.
Why are Celebrities Leaving Social Media?
My kids are entering an age where likes mean popularity and validation. While they don’t have Instagram or Facebook accounts, they’re already learning social media lessons through TikTok and streaming services like Twitch. While I’d love to block them from ever receiving a negative comment, I know I can’t.
Seeing people they look up to leave these platforms, even just temporarily, can serve as a powerful example that it’s healthy to take a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed.
According to an article on TimesofIndia.com,
From facing bullying, harassment and messages from the haters on the internet, there are plenty of reasons why stars are going on a social media detox and staying off for a long duration of time. It is a known fact that spending a lot of time browsing social media is not exactly good for mental health.
Comedian Pete Davidson made headlines when he ditched Instagram after admitting the internet doesn’t make him feel good. Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, and Ed Sheeran have also taken breaks in the past few years. Lizzo quit Twitter, saying the platform had too many trolls, and Meghan Markle deleted her entire social media presence before marrying Prince Harry.
While celebrities may take the brunt of internet trolling, no one is immune. My husband shared a story about immigrants being separated at the U.S. border on Facebook, and he was attacked by people he knows well for sharing “fake news.” Regardless of what you think, he spent several days upset over the lack of caring people showed.
Taking a Social Media Break
Social media can help you stay connected to friends and family, especially now when we’re in the midst of COVID-related restrictions. However, it’s important to recognize when it’s bringing you down instead of lifting you up.
Dr. Kristen Fuller at Psychology Today reports,
It is no secret that the social media frenzy has become out of control and studies are now showing that social media use can lead to depression, low self-esteem, body image issues, anxiety, social isolation, and the list goes on. It can even perpetuate eating disorders and self-harm behaviors.
You don’t have to delete your accounts entirely to feel the benefits of stepping back. Many of the celebrities mentioned above eventually came back. I took Facebook off my phone, so if I want to spend time scrolling, I have to make a deliberate effort to open my laptop or go to my phone’s web browser.
Total screen time is down significantly, and I enjoy not being suckered in based on notifications. Now, if I need a mindless distraction, I play games like Word Crush and Scrabble (apps available through Apple and Android).
I also like the idea of social media free days. It’s amazing how much clearer my mind feels after taking a break in nature. We love to go skiing, and almost by mistake, I realized how great I feel at the end of a long day on the slopes. Yes, being outside and exercising has a lot to do with it, but also, the whole family has no access to wifi.
Family friends of ours enjoy camping for the same reason. Many remote camping sites don’t have internet access — allowing them to unplug for a period.
Fuller suggests maybe you take every Sunday or an entire weekend to put your devices away. These social media free days can allow you to spend more time socializing with others, engaging in hobbies, and being productive. Other tips include monitoring your screen time, responding offline, putting your phone out of reach, and setting phone-free zones.
Clearly, what Travis Scott does with his social media means very little to my life, but I’m appreciative of the chance to discuss the downsides of social media with my son. I asked what it meant to him that Scott received hurtful comments, and he said he realized people could be mean, especially when they remain anonymous.
As of this writing, I’m currently awaiting election results in the U.S. and unable to deal with social media at all. I know I’m not alone in this feeling.
Karol Markowicz at The New York Post reported that a 2016 study out of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found “30 percent of the participants [who used social media at least one hour per day] had high levels of sleep disturbance
Those who study internet use generally believe the trend won’t continue once we can get back to work, school, and social activities. Yet, forecasts predict this won’t happen until at least 2021.
Daily self-care rituals can give us enough freedom to remember what it is we enjoyed about social media in the first place.
Practice these habits to protect your mental health:
- Consider removing apps from your phone or turn off notifications.
- Come up with social media-free times. Whether it’s a weekend, a day, or just a few hours, unplug completely from time to time.
- Reach out to friends offline. A phone call, text, or even an old-fashioned card in the mail are often much more appreciated by the recipient.
If you try taking short breaks and still find yourself anxious, depressed, and fearing missing out, then maybe it’s time to go the Travis Scott route. Whether he quit because of trolls or to spend more time focused on his priorities, I applaud the effort and appreciate the high-profile example.