Every so often I realize social media has grown to consume an outsized portion of my time and brain space, and consider getting off social media entirely. So far, I’ve never gone quite so far as to actually delete my accounts, though I have taken quite a few social media breaks where I change my passwords but don’t save the new passwords, forcing me to reset my passwords if and when I want to get back into any social media account.
That’s where I am again today. Two accounts in particular are problematic: Instagram and Facebook. The problems I have with these accounts are different.
Instagram is Bad for My Brain
In the case of Instagram, it’s the reels that get me. Instagram’s algorithm is good. After just a minute or two of flipping through reels, they hone in on whatever it is I’m interested in and feed me clip after clip that tickles my interest at that particular moment. The problem with this is that it’s addictive and I find myself looking for the Instagram icon on my phone anytime I have downtime.
I’m convinced that this sort of mindless reel flipping is not harmless. When I give in to the impulse to spend every bored moment on Instagram I find that I’m anxious, unable to focus, forgetful, and just generally scattered and unproductive.
My brain needs downtime, it needs to be bored, to have space and time to breathe, and when I give in to the impulse to flip through reels I’m giving up the downtime my brain needs.
Facebook is a Distraction
The issue with Facebook is different. I don’t use the Facebook app and the reels on FB have never been an issue for me while using Facebook in the browser. The issue with Facebook is that I’m in a bunch of groups that I actually enjoy. These groups are mostly running-related or local community groups and I enjoy reading the posts and interacting with them. This isn’t super addictive and is less concerning to me, but it’s still a problem because it can become a distraction when I need to be working on other things, like work.
Taking a Break
I think it’s time for a break. The last social media break I took was over a year ago and it’s time to go through the exercise again to break bad habits. So momentarily I’ll be changing my Facebook and Instagram passwords, and LinkedIn and Twitter while I’m at it, and logging out for at least the rest of the month of April.
That should give me the time I need to be bored.