Sam Holstein

10 Great Ways Quitting Social Media Changed My Life for the Better

10 Great Ways Quitting Social Media Changed My Life for the Better

Four years ago, I was a social media addict. I spent the equivalent of a full-time job checking my Instagram and Tumblr accounts. Over the course of a year, I transitioned from social media addict to a social media skeptic. Then, two and a half years ago, I deleted every single social media account I had.

It was one of the best decisions of my life.

Seriously. As a productivity and self-help writer, I’m supposed to be some kind of “expert” on productivity. But of all the productivity research I’ve done, psychology studies I’ve studied, and self-help books I’ve read, the single most powerful thing I’ve ever done to make my life better is still deleting my social media accounts.

Here’s how deleting social media elevated my life.

#1: Gave Me Hours of Free Time Every Day

Who among us does not feel they have enough free time? Judging by the general sentiment on the internet, no one. Even those who do have free time lament they squander it.

Cutting out social media freed up an unbelievable amount of time for me.

You don’t realize how many hours those little apps are taking from you until you give them up entirely. Even if you only drift off into a social media binge once every few days, the “quick checks” you do while working or out and about add up quickly.

Since quitting social media, I’ve gotten all those hours back. I never feel busy. It’s delightful.

If you crave the feeling of relaxation and simplicity in your life, quit social media.

#2: Protected Me from Pop Culture Nonsense

So much of what goes on on the internet is what I call “pop culture nonsense.” People talk about what celebrities are doing, reference the latest memes, keep up with politics in a purely superficial sense (misunderstanding or not at all understanding the political philosophy and history involved), “educate” themselves with infotainment, and other brain junk activities.

Without social media, I engage in very little brain junk. My time is spent reading books, taking care of my body and life, building my blogging business, and attending loads of therapy. My headspace is filled only with knowledge and attitudes that make my life (and the world) a better place. It’s a lot easier to learn what I need to live a happy life if my learning is not competing with brain junk for space.

#3: Protects Me from Self-Judgment

Having a major mental illness and a minor disability makes it easy for me to compare myself to others negatively. While my high school friends are establishing their careers, getting married, and considering having children, I’m… attending loads of therapy, struggling to establish an even halfway stable romantic relationship, and working part-time to no-time. Even seeing a photo of a woman hiking a mountain makes me feel terrible about myself.

I’m sure if I were exposed to feeds, my self-judgment would rachet up to unbearable levels. Instagram photos of honeymooning friends, houses, and generally happy people would put me in a terrible mindset every day. I need to guard my mental health with my life if I expect to make any progress. Social media is incompatible with that.

#4: Made Me More Productive

You would not believe how much writing you can get done if you have no social media to check, check, check. You would also not believe how easy it is to build your first course, manage a newsletter, read 100 books a year, hit the gym, or get anything else done when you’re not check-check-checking.

You can also use that free time to finally declutter your house. Or commute to a local park and hike. Or practice playing the guitar laying abandoned in the corner of your living room. Or spend time with friends.

When you quit social media, you have more time for everything.

#5: Puts My Priorities in the Right Place

When I was active on social media, I cared about dumb stuff.

I cared about dumb stuff less than other people cared about dumb stuff. It’s not like I chose boyfriends purely based on how hot they were. But somewhere in the back of my head, I still cared, and it subtly but powerfully affected the choices I made.

Now, I don’t give a shit. I can’t remember the last time I thought “Wow, what a nice place for an Instagram photo” because Instagram photos are not a part of my life at all. Over time, I’ve saved a heck of a lot of money on clothes.

#6: Suddenly Gave Me Lots of Friends

For most of my life, I’ve been a lonely sonofabitch. I had friends, sure, but most of my evenings were spent in solitude on the internet, usually on some form of social media. When I did have close friends, we just did that together.

After I quit social media, the funniest thing happened. I started making friends. Lots and lots of friends. So many friends, in fact, that I was booked for every evening of the week and still had to turn people down.

Quitting social media forced me to reach out to friends by texting them. After spending a few hours texting, we would make plans. After our plans, they would say “Hey, I had a great time, why don’t you join me and my other friend on Thursday?” I would say “That sounds like fun!” Then I’d make a new friend, and that new friend would say “Hey, you’re cool, why don’t you join me and my other friend at the hookah lounge on Monday?” I would say “That sounds like fun!” Before I knew it, I had more friends than I could handle.

I’m still an isolated and not tremendously likable person, but now I’m surrounded by people who like me enough to keep liking me even when I’m being unlikable. What more can I ask for?

#7: Made My Conversations Better

I can’t remember why, but back before I quit social media, I really did not like talking to people. To me, silence was the highest form of respect. (Or at least, their silence while I narcissistically talked about myself.)

Without social media, though, the outside world suddenly seemed a lot more interesting. I wanted people to tell me about their lives.

Now, others are the people who try to avoid conversation with me.

Sometimes people tell me to look at something they posted recently. I shrug and say “I can’t. You’ll just have to tell me.”

If I want to know how someone’s doing, I have to pointedly ask them. They have to respond to me personally. We end up bonding over it. That is a much higher quality conversation.

#8: Helped Me Save Money

Quitting social media protected my wallet in a few ways.

The first goes to the earlier inadequacy. I wasn’t buying or caring about brand-name clothes when I didn’t see the brand-name clothes. I don’t buy clothes to look good for others because I am no longer on display to others.

The second has to do with ads. I can’t feel tempted to buy stupid personalized products if I don’t see ads for stupid personalized products. It takes me longer than others to learn about good products, but if the product is good enough, I eventually always do.

Last has to do with self-education. Now that my brain isn’t filled with junk, I have space to learn about personal finance. Now that I’m much more productive in life, I’m able to sit down and do personal financial planning.

Taken together, these things represent thousands saved per year.

#9: Improved My Blogging Business

An entrepreneur’s downfall begins when she stops focusing on business fundamentals and starts focusing on short-term performance. Entrepreneurs focused on short-term stats make decisions that earn a quick buck but sacrifice many more bucks over the long term.

Social media is nothing if not an ocean of short-term stats. How many likes? Shares? What’s your engagement rating? Follower count? It’s hard to stay focused on your long-term vision when you’re drowning in the ocean of short-term stats.

Quitting social media helps me focus on my long-term goals. Instead of asking questions about what’s trending now, I ask myself questions about what kind of content I find valuable.

#10: Returned Me to Nature

One of the truly nasty things about social media is the way it encourages you to turn every nice moment into a photo op. Going hiking with your friends? Getting dressed up to go out for the night? Don’t miss the opportunity for a great selfie!

It’s worse than that, actually. Selfie pressure leads us to worry overmuch about our appearance when doing things like this. When you know going for a hike isn’t just going for a hike, it’s going for a photo op, you feel pressured to shower and dress well beforehand. Same for going out. If you’re not in the habit of taking selfies wherever you go, though, you can dress casually. No big deal.

Since quitting social media, I’ve regained the ability to just go and do things on a dime. I’ve gone out for the night with friends wearing casual clothes and gone hiking in huge muddy rain jackets. These outfits wouldn’t look great on Insta, but they feel great on my body and allow me to enjoy my life. What more can someone ask for?

Complaining about social media is one of my favorite things to do. I’m like a broken record about it. But I’m a broken record about it because it’s one of the single most powerful things I’ve ever done to improve my life.

If you’re feeling stuck in life, I highly recommend you give it a try.