(10 minute read)
In this post, I’ll cover..
- Why i’m leaving – It’s called a breakup because it’s broken..
- Negative effects of social media, for all of us..
- You can and will thrive without social media & the 3 phases of social media detox
- How you and I can stay connected (that doesn’t involve rich white men controlling our connection)
Why I’m leaving – it’s called a breakup because it’s broken..
I don’t know about you, but I wish that 5 hour vacation yesterday from Facebook and Instagram lasted forever. Maybe you feel different and that’s fine, but if you’re reading a post about my breakup with social media I assume there’s some part of you that feels liberated at the idea.
[Note: in this post, I’m focusing on just Facebook and Instagram. Personally, I don’t really use Twitter (I have like 4 followers on it I think?) and I find Pinterest to be inspiring and have no qualms with it. I don’t have a snapchat and never have, I hate the TikTok algorithm and addictiveness so have been off that for awhile (and only ever was on it for like 4 months when it first came out.) So my real issues, and therefore the focus of this post are Facebook and Instagram. And while I of course admit there are positive effects of these two platforms, for me the cons far outweigh the pros. Keep reading and see what you think.]
At the end of this post you may not be ready to throw in the towel like me, but my hope is that it at least helps you be a bit more mindful and make even ONE change to create a healthier relationship with these platforms for yourself. However if you choose not to change anything, I don’t judge you at all.
I am also fully aware that this stance I’m taking is completely opposite from the “norm.” But if you know anything about me you know i’m a type 3 enneagram AND an aquarius and it’s in my bones to a.) not be controlled, b.) not follow rules or cultural “norms” just because, and c.) I care a LOT about humanity and mental health.
I found myself fantisizing that these two platforms would just be gone for good and we could maybe have a chance at getting our humanity and actual sense of community and connection back.
The world would definitely be a better place. And then I realized that I obviously have TOTAL control over how/if I choose to use these platforms or not.
Yet, it hasn’t felt that way. Every time I say I’M OUTTA HERE one person or another says, “bUt WhAT AbOuT yOuR BuSiNeSs?” and to be honest, it’s that exact fear that’s kept me hooked. I LOVE my work and my clients. It’s my absolute passion and lights me up from the inside out. It’s also of course my way of paying my bills and keeping a roof over my head and food on the table. I obviously feel the very real fear of how leaving social media *could* effect my business.
But I call bullshit. I didn’t have a social media presence for the first 2 years of my business and I still grew at a rapid rate through word of mouth, referrals, and utilizing SEO (aka showing up in Google when people search for dietitians in Boston.) I’ve gone through periods (like months at a time) of being totally off Instagram and what I experienced was NOT stagnancy or business failure.
Instead I became WAY more productive, created higher quality blog content, got even clearer on my mission/vision, was more creative, and had a full client schedule.
(you probs know how I feel about the problematic kardashians but this gif was just too good to pass up!)
We’ve been brainwashed to believe that in this day and age the only way to succeed, stay relevant, get clients, and gain clout is to be on social media. And we’re not encouraged just to be on it, but basically live on it. The more content you put out (especially controversial content) the more you’re “rewarded” with visibility from Instagram. Thinking about taking a week long break from Insta? They’ll punish you with extremely low reach the moment you get back. Trust me, it happens to me every single time.
So for me, enough is enough. Today I say Bye, Felicia. I’ve been feeling this way for a LONG time. Especially as the destructive nature of social media has gotten even worse over the last 2 years. Not to mention the censoring, silencing BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ creators, and severe privacy concerns.
I didn’t just watch one documentary and make a biased decision either. Over the last 6 years I’ve read tons and tons of books and high quality research about the harmful effects of social media. I’ve seen it in my own life. My clients lives. My family’s lives.
And THEN I saw the recent 60 minutes episode with whistleblower (f*cking badass) Frances Haugen and I’m just SO done. Haugen was hired by facebook to help make the app a safer place. Actually, when she was hired she said something to the effect of, “I’ll work here as long as I can work on tackling misinformation and harmful content,” and of course she was met with lies, corruption, and bullsh*t.
She makes sure to note that she doesn’t believe Zuckerberg and co. are purposefully out to f*ck up our society. BUT that they definitely continue to make decisions that prioritize profit over our health and safety.
Negative effects of social media, for all of us..
Since the rise of Facebook and Instagram specifically, our mental health has absolutely tanked to a concerning level. And our big, beautiful, amazing lives have been reduced to tiny squares on a “feed” that does nothing to actually nourish us in the long run. This platform designed to “bring people together and build community” has become a toxic, brainwashing, divisive, harmful, hateful place.
Personally I can’t support a platform like this. It makes me sick.
- I’m sick of pouring hours into content meant to inspire and uplift people to get it in front of the eyes of less than 5% of my “audience” on there.
- I’m sick of my “business” on Instagram being controlled by rich white men (1 trillion $$ company worth) and their selfish motives.
- I’m sick of seeing study after study that reports how Instagram specifically promotes body hatred and disordered eating and how this negatively effects the mental health of young girls especially.
- I’m sick of spending literal hours of my life trying to simplify complex food, nutrition, and body image topics into palatable and shareable squares. It’s just not my thing.
- I’m sick of feeling absent from my life because of the addictive draw to check my social media.
- I’m sick of having such a short attention span.
- I’m sick of feeling heightened levels of anxiety for no reason
For awhile i’ve been gaslighting myself by “focusing on the positive” but it’s become SO nasty there I just can’t stick around. And of course there are definitely positives of Instagram and Facebook. Trust me i’ve built a business and met SO many amazing friends, colleagues, and clients using these platforms. But for me, I just personally can’t stomach spending even one second on a platform that sacrifices the literal safety of human beings for a bigger paycheck.
Don’t just take it from me, here’s some data:
- “The UK’s Royal Society for Public Health surveyed 1,500 teens and young adults about their social media habits. They found that Instagram and other social networks are associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and a ‘fear of missing out (FOMO).’ They can also foster a negative body image and poor sleep habits. ‘As this study and others have suggested, the more social media young adults consume, the more likely they are to report depression or anxiety,’ said Stefanie Lopacinski, Ed.D, LCSW, a behavioral health consultant at Abington-Jefferson Health. ‘It becomes a job to check, monitor and respond to social media requests and demands from multiple sites. It’s too much.’” (source: click here)
- “‘Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,’ the researchers said in a March 2020 slide presentation posted to Facebook’s internal message board, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. ‘Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.’” (source: click here)
- “The tendency to share only the best moments, a pressure to look perfect and an addictive product can send teens spiraling toward eating disorders, an unhealthy sense of their own bodies and depression, March 2020 internal [Facebook’s own] research states. It warns that the Explore page, which serves users photos and videos curated by an algorithm, can send users deep into content that can be harmful.” (source: click here)
Here’s a round up of credible sources explaining the negative effects of social media. Click each highlighted word for the source and to read more. These apps breed narcissism, isolation and loneliness, anxiety, depression, fear of missing out, conspiracy theories, hate crimes, vaccine hesitancy, eating disorders and negative body image, just to name a few.
Not only all that, but the algorithm essentially creates an overall rage-filled society..
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the algorithm changed in 2018. In turn, we’ve seen such a massive increase in anger inducing content over the last couple years, for a reason and of course it’s financial.
Haugen explained in her 60 minutes interview that it’s easier to evoke anger than it is other emotions. Anger = engagement, engagement = $$ for facebook. Changing the algorithm to prevent hate speech, violent content, polarizing content = less $$ for fb.
I see the ripple effect of this in traffic, the grocery store line, and other normal parts of life where this hostility that’s so accepted online has drifted over into our “real world” and everyone just seems so angry. If you know me, you know I’m into reading and watching everything I can on cult and conspiracy theories (not like, getting into them LOL, just learning about them) and all I can say is that Facebook and Instagram are like gasoline on a fire for that sh*t.
According to Facebook’s own research, it totally admits to not doing enough to mitigate these negative effects.
You can and will thrive without social media..
As I mentioned above, whenever I’ve deleted social media I feel:
- More free
- More present
- More like myself
- Huge creative boost
- Productivity skyrockets
- Closer to my loved ones
- More activities (going for walks, hikes, getting out into nature)
- Have a cleaner house
- Have a better relationship with my friends & family (because I’m 10x more present)
- Create more (blog posts, ebooks, ways to work with and help clients better)
- Read SO many books (like 5 in one week once)
I see these exact same results in my clients, family members, and friends when they take breaks from social media as well. It’s a human thing, we’re not unique.
Us without social media:
Not gonna lie, but every time i’ve taken a social media break at first it’s a very weird feeling that I absolutely hate. I instinctually reach for my phone and it feels like a true addictive behavior. You may have noticed this when it was down for 5 hours yesterday. Did you think your phone was broken? Did you freak out? Did it make you anxious? That’s exactly what happens when we detox from social media.
I’m gonna bring you through a quick recap of what I have experienced every time i’ve taken a break from social so you have an idea of what to expect.
Phase 1 – the freakout
Just know that this too shall pass. You may feel jittery, anxious, FOMO, worried, isolated, and more. All of this is normal. Social media is designed to give you dopamine hits so when you detox, your brain is legit recalibrating to the absence of that dopamine. Read this article from Harvard.edu for more on this.
Phase 2 – now what?
After the freakout, it’s important to figure out what you’re gonna do to fill your time. Maybe even sitting down BEFORE taking a social media break and writing out all the possible things you can do to fill your time. Go back to school? Take a class or course? Read books? Write? Make art? Try and choose things that utilize your brain in a healthy way vs. checking out with Netflix binges (which I also love, but they have their own time and place.)
4 healthy ways to increase dopamine:
Phase 3 – pure bliss
Ahh, what you’ve been waiting for and the reason I personally have kept coming back to NO social media. This is the phase where you begin to feel more like yourself. You’ll likely feel more positive, present, and uplifted. You’ll be so surprised you ever spent so much time on social media and if you’re tempted to go back to it and you do you’re like, “why am I even here, this place sucks.” The first two phases are definitely uncomfortable but that should tell you everything you need to know about how addictive and harmful these platforms have become.
You ready? Here’s how to take some action (from least to most severe)
Option 1.) delete the apps off your phone
Option 2.) temporarily disable your accounts (click here for insta and here for facebook)
Option 3.) permanently delete your accounts (here for insta and here for facebook) – make note that you cannot recover your account once it’s permanently deleted. Read all the disclaimers on those pages and don’t blame me haha!
Enjoy your newfound freedom, health, and happiness!
How you and I can stay connected that doesn’t involve rich white men controlling our connection
The ONLY thing I care about in all this is how I can stay connected to you in a way that’s supportive, empowering, and doesn’t add fuel to a fire of addictive technology. I don’t think you’ll become addicted to my blog posts or helpful content i’ll send you from my email list.
The easiest way for us to stay connected is for you to go here (or use the form below) and add yourself to my email list. I personally own it, along with my website, and we have full control over it ourselves. There’s no one who can manipulate us, create division, or spread hate there. You won’t get bombarded with a bunch of emails after you signup either. I only send stuff out maximum of once per week.
*By signing up, you agree to receive future email correspondence from me, Lexy (aka some really cool shit.) I won’t send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time*
This way, I’ll be able to continue to support and empower you with helpful content that you’ll be sure to see because it won’t be lost to a shitty algorithm designed to erode the fabric of our society.
- If you’re a previous client, share my website with a friend who you think could benefit from my work.
- My email is email@example.com
- And my website (as long as i’m in business doing this) will be lexypenney.com
If they actually clean their sh*t up, I may be back (which I highly doubt – I think it’s only gonna get worse) but until then.. ✌🏽and ❤️
Other helpful resources:
The Social Dilemma on Netflix, watch the trailer here
1 Year Without Social Media. It is not how you think it is. By Rohit Kumar Neralla click here
You Can Live Without Social Media by Felicia C. Sullivan click here
Cal Newport’s book – Digital Minimalism – Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World click here
How to Break Up with Your Phone: the 30-day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price click here
Haven’t listened to this podcast, but it looks good, click here
Feel free to leave a comment below about your thoughts on the topic!
Love this!! I always think about leaving IG. I still wonder if it’s possible to keep the parts I like and leave the rest. It does feel so addicting though so it’s hard. Thank you for sharing these resources xoxo
You hit the nail right on the head. Yes, yes, and YES to every single point you made and truths you’ve stated that we all push deep down and ignore to stay in the mix. I have suffered immensely from Social Media and phone obsession and my quality of life increases 10 fold every single time I get rid of it. Thank you for your courage and inspiration!!!!!!! Deleting mine today. Love you!!!!!!!!!
This is absolutely amazing and so so true. I literally thought my phone was broke yesterday because of the outage and had a lot of anxiety. I hate the way they target anger and make people depressed. Great blog, your amazing.
Thank you for this! I deleted my Facebook a few years ago and haven’t looked back. I do still have Instagram, but your post is really making me reconsider that. I try to follow as many accounts that I can that help with my mental/emotional health and mute/delete/block the ones that don’t, but I still come across the bad ones constantly, which does nothing for me. Thanks for sharing this message!
it’s hard because it really does seem like even with the best intentions (limiting overall use, following uplifting accounts, etc) it still isn’t “enough” and that’s exactly what harms us!