Experiencing your young adult years in the 21stcentury can be bittersweet. For one, not everyone is entirely in need of smartphones and social media. Though I never felt a real pressure to be actively involved in social media/use my smartphone, I still tried to limit my dependency on my phone and number of social media accounts I had. However, there was this undercurrent of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, unwanted stress, and social pressure to be involved with and be exposed to all that social media functioned on. So, I felt I needed to bring minimalism to another corner of my life: I reduced my smartphone use and ditched types of social media.
For starters, I stopped caring to share with others what I was up to, who I was with, who I was etc. and I got annoyed with people misconstruing who I was based off social media. I figured I didn’t want that negativity in my life and these apps realistically offered nothing substantial or practical to me. I didn’t feel a need validate or “prove” anything to anyone on a (social media) platform, so I got rid of apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. I suppose I went old-school, but I feel I just went more sentimental and catered my interest towards how I preferably like getting to know people: one-on-one. I figured if you wanted to know me, then you could interact with me and not rely on my social media accounts. If I wanted to hang out with you, the world didn’t have to know that we hung out because these were my memories, not theirs. I already valued my relationships with people and I wanted to express that belief by being genuine with myself; I wanted to internalize and practice my beliefs. I grew tired of “keeping up” with social media, and I honestly just didn’t care for it. And I haven’t looked back. I feel freer to do things, engage with people more and seek more out of life (just the way I’ve always desired). I didn’t realize how much social media was limiting me; I’d mistaken it as a platform to express myself, and I soon learned, that wasn’t the case at all. And no, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, because I keep the apps/social media accounts that are most relevant to me, and that tell me only what I want to know. I still take breaks here and there when I experience an information overload or feel emotionally overwhelmed.
Below are some tips on decluttering your smartphone and reducing smartphone use:
- Dopamine Shock Isn’t All that Dope: Dopamine shock and smartphone use have a high, positive correlation in many neurological studies, and once you understand the psychological and neurological science behind the instant gratification/“addiction” of social media/smartphone use, you’ll see why it’s not so dope. (feel free to do your own research to better understand)
- Social Crisis Break: often when the internet blows up with some new issue, it can be overwhelming after a while having to read posts, look at pics, and read/analyze other people’s opinion to understand what’s going on and develop your own views on the matter. But that’s also extremely stressful after the first 50-soemthing posts. What I often do is delete the app, or temporarily disable my account to give myself a break from the world. It’s okay to rid yourself of the opportunity/access to “just check in” or obsessively refresh something to see how many likes/views it’s been given. You’ll find yourself forgetting about it all together and doing something way more productive with your day that doesn’t make you anxious, or overwhelmingly expose you to things.
- Ignorance Can Be Blissful: try turning off your notifications on your phone (excluding important ones that pertain to your occupation or family/friend emergencies). Often, seeing those notification numbers next to several apps just gives you too much to worry about and consider. In addition to not knowing what apps have notifications, you’re less prone to be on your phone if you don’t know that “XYZ” liked, commented or saw your pic/post.
- Wait for It: try not using your phone during the first hour of when you wake up. If this means reorganizing your morning routine, then try it. Stay away from checking emails, newsfeed, etc. when you first wake up. Allow yourself to plug into your physical reality first before your virtual reality (social media). You’ll be amazed at how much more productive your mornings are when you’re not engrossed or distracted by social media right when you wake up.
- Social Media Detox: Just for kicks, if you’re a bit hesitant about deleting some of your social media accounts, try a little detox. Life will still go on without you knowing what everyone is doing during the day (and night). By giving yourself a bit of a detox, then later coming back in contact with social media, you may become more insightful as to what apps and accounts are needed in your life and/or you enjoy the most. Don’t keep apps for the sake that everyone has one or you want to prove something about yourself. Keep apps and accounts if, and when, they make you happy and contribute something you feel is worthwhile to who you are and what you like to do.