A picture from before I even had a phone with apps on it!

Limiting Social Media

A few days ago I deleted my social media apps. I didn’t delete the accounts, just the apps on my phone.

Why? A few reasons.

Primarily, I want to get my focus back. During this quarantine I’ve found myself more glued to social media than ever before. I compulsively refresh my feeds at every moment and for no reason at all. With everyone home and online, the voyeuristic tornado sucked me in all too easily. I found myself losing hours of life to endless feeds of Tik Tok re-posts and (admittedly adorable) pet photos. Ick.

I had to get out.

I also read an excellent book by Manoush Zomorodi called “Bored and Brilliant,” given to me by my aptly brilliant friend, Tracy. The book walks through Zomorodi’s Bored and Brilliant Challenge, a 7-day set of exercises to make technology use intentional, and reclaim time for doing nothing (boredom!), a crucial part of coming up with new ideas, as Zomorodi convincingly argues.

I took the plunge and accepted the challenge.

Truth be told, I’ve wanted to do something like this for some time. As a dance professional, being accessible for lessons and contracts is important, so I’ve avoided it. Now, with no lessons or events in sight, it seems like the perfect time.

I Took the Plunge and Deleted My Social Media Apps

It’s been a few days since I deleted the apps, and I have to say: I haven’t missed it too much! I can still log in via my browser if there are things I absolutely need to do, and I’m finding that everything I missed was worth missing. It’s a nice feeling.

I’ve definitely gotten bored, but just as Zomorodi predicted, some interesting ideas have already come of it. You may see some of them on the blog in the near future, we’ll see.

If you’d like to take back your time and attention from your phone, I’d recommend this guide from Coach Tony. It’s a tactical guide for turning off notifications and setting up tools like greyscale mode. I found to be incredibly helpful. It’s a big article, but that’s the point: it’s comprehensive. A good one-stop-shop.

The jury is still out on whether this will be a brief reprieve or a lasting change for me. I suspect that, when things return to full-tilt, I’ll probably need to re-download Facebook and Instagram. The connectivity they allow me with other dancers and communities all over the world helps, no doubt about it

Still, learning to use them intentionally as opposed to mindlessly has been really useful for me. My attention is slowly becoming less frayed, and I’m using it to tackle a few of the opportunities the Coronavirus quarantine has provided.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the book:

“The most important thing to acknowledge is that it’s an unfair fight. On one side is a human being who’s just trying to get on with her prefrontal cortex, which is a million years old and in charge of regulating attention. That’s up against a thousand engineers on the other side of the screen, whose daily job is to break that and keep you scrolling on the infinite feed.”

Bored and Brilliant, Pg. 92

I’m no match for the engineers, but then again they’re powerless in the face of the delete button.

1 thought on “Limiting Social Media”

  1. I broke the social media habit in about 2008. I used a platform called Xanga at the time, and what drove me to quit was a utility called “footprints”. From that I found that I was being tracked by the Russian Federation and the Ukrainian Federation among many others I couldn’t identify.

    All these years later, it’s only gotten worse.

    Of late, I have effectively been kicked off Facebook. They have been requiring a phone number to log in, and I won’t provide it. Fine. Zuck You, Fuckerberg. I’m better for it.

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