I Quit Social Media for 1 Year


Dear Social Media,

Please excuse my writing.
After being so close for so long, it’s time to reevaluate our relationship and finally take a break.
It feels like a good decision. After so many years, you must be quite tired of me and I am exhausted of youWe went from love to hate and it’s time to say goodbye, at least for now…

Agness

I’m writing this post to say a temporary goodbye to all of my social media channels. For the next year, I am planning to be completely absent from my social media accounts: Facebook and Instagram. Is it a joke? Nope. Why? Because I feel like I need a social media detox and today I’d like to describe not only why I feel that this is the best move for me and my life, but some of the reasons why social media can be dangerous to every one of us.


Let’s start from the very beginning …

I have had an online presence through social media for over six years now. I have spent an incredible amount of time and effort creating these social media profiles and continuously running them. Although these years of my social media exploration have had their good moments, I have been in an uphill struggle to maintain myself, my life, and my online life all at once.

Through social media, I have built up an incredible travel community full of people who have the same interests and goals that I do, which has been so amazing. Getting to know all of you has been a beautiful experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything!

My Instagram account I got totally addicted to when sharing my cooking and baking skills and passion for healthy lifestyle.

Over six years, I have been sharing my life and my heart with the world on social media. My social media accounts had over 40,000 people being connected with me. I know that for some of you this is a very small number, but for me, strongly interacting with many of them every single day, it’s been A LOT.

My Twitter account where you could see me daily.

This success has been part of the greatest and worst times I had online. I put a lot of pressure on myself and there is always a catch to social media success that I’ve learned the hard way.

My own personal failure began slowly. Of course, I was spending time every day on all of the above-mentioned social media channels. This is a requirement for virtual fame. However, that time became more and more. The online life that I had created was starting to swallow me whole. I spent hours every day perusing the social media feeds, reading about other people’s lives, comparing myself to others, viewing their pictures and replying to their comments and messages. Besides that, I was constantly thinking of how to turn my daily experiences into something worth sharing

However, it wasn’t just the time that I was spending; it was how involved I was getting in the online (i.e. not real) life that I had created on social media. It was affecting me emotionally and mentally in ways that I had never expected.

My reasons for quitting social media are deep-rooted and personal. I am tired of seeing people’s lives portrayed as perfect when they are not. Everyone smiles on social media. Everyone is always HAPPY. Everyone’s lunch always looks delicious, everyone’s hair is always PERFECT. Nobody fights. Nobody is vulnerable. This only leads followers to feel insecure and dissatisfied with their own lives. I know how it feels, I’ve been there.

Social media is filled with NEGATIVITY, especially Facebook. I am tired of the rampant negativity and trolling across all social media channels, or the useless and inappropriately personal information that people are constantly sharing with hundreds (or thousands) of people they’ve never even met or seen for ages. “Happy to be finally divorced. Celebrations time!” posted my high school friend the other day on Facebook. Is that something you want to see when opening Facebook in the morning? Is that something you want to share with others? Think.

Since I decided to get back to my nomadic life in August this year, social media has been constantly making me feel bad about my travels, my lifestyle and the decision I made. Seeing my friends getting engaged, married and having kids got me thinking that maybe there is something wrong with me. I’m almost 28 and I am not married yet, I don’t have kids, I don’t even have a boyfriend and I can’t keep a relationship for long. Instead, I want to travel around the world, collect beautiful memories, meet people and inspire others to do the same. I’m different than my friends and I accept it but why is Facebook making me feel bad about who I am and what I love to do?

The Real Danger of Social Media

There is not one of us who does not create a persona when using social media. No matter how much we deny it, the pictures that we post or the captions we write are not telling the whole story of who we are.

So what do people post of their lives? Check the social media profiles and feeds of the people you follow. Do you see failures, sad days, truly ugly pictures (not just captions that talk about how ugly they look), or tears? Very likely, you will see none of this.

These are the private things that most people hide. Instead, when they post on social media, their lives seem perfect. They are smiling, laughing, travelling, partying, and having success in their personal life and in their work. But the problem is that none of this is real.

So why do people post these things? Because they seek approval.

“An open Facebook page is simply a psychiatric dry erase board that screams, “Look at me. I am insecure. I need your reaction to what I am doing, but you’re not cool enough to be my friend (…).”
― Shannon L. Alder

We want people to believe that we do actually have that perfect life. We want the likes and the attention that comes from success. Do you know how many times I felt heartbroken and still smiled for the Instagram picture? MANY.

Always happy, always smiling, always looking perfect for the sake of the picture.

But what effect does it have on our followers, and on us? When you see the pictures and posts recounting stories and anecdotes from a seemingly perfect life of happiness, how do you feel? I know exactly how it makes me feel, and I know that I’m not alone.

We feel depressed. It makes us think, “Why isn’t my life like that?”, “Why can’t I get invited to such cool parties?”, “Why isn’t my hair always so perfect?” or  “Why can’t I always look good in pictures like she does?”

We start to think, ‘What’s wrong with me?’

These fake lives that we follow online seem very real, but that’s because we’re only seeing one side of a multi-faceted life. We are not privy to the doubts and the tears of others on social media. We only see what they present us with, and that makes us feel like our life is unsatisfactory, or worthless. We become addicted to this ideal of life that isn’t real, and as we continue to see this false message thrown at us from all directions, we crave it more and more to our own detriment.

So how do we respond? Unfortunately, the automatic response is to continue the trend. We too start to post pictures, quotes, and stories of our seemingly perfect lives. We hide our dirty laundry in the closet and pretend that it’s not there, pretending that our life truly is that incredible, 24/7.

What’s worse than that, however, is this: eventually, we may start to believe in these personas we’ve created.

How devastating it is to wake up one day and realise you are not at all the person you’ve been pretending to be for the last six years!

Another danger of social media is what I call the trash bin effect. Some people use Facebook and other social media profiles as a place to throw all of their dirty trash. Negativity starts to flow out, and the social media channel becomes the soapbox where these people spread their rants. The controversy, the bickering, and the profanity that is used on social media has truly shocked me, and at times hurt me personally. Much of what people post online is private information that should never be shared outside of a circle of close friends, never mind with thousands of complete strangers on the internet.

Social media is a way of connecting to many people from across the globe, but a pitfall that I have unfortunately fallen into is losing focus on what is truly important. When you’re constantly on social media, you at times forget about the real people in your life. These are the people who need attention, care, and love from you in person. However, it is very easy to get swept up in the waves of social media and lose sight of the offline relationships, which are the most important ones.

“The more time we spend interconnected via a myriad of devices, the less time we have left to develop true friendships in the real world.”
― Alex Morritt.

As a traveller, social media has been a way of distributing my experiences abroad. But there is a danger in this as well.

As mentioned above, I started to become obsessed with sharing. The content world is fickle, and to keep active and successful you must keep posting constantly. Preferably for travel bloggers like me, you should post something on social media at least a few times every week to keep people interested. Not only that, but each post must be informative, stunning, creative, humorous, or shocking. It is so hard to find things from every-day life that fit these requirements that it is easy to get lost in the madness of posting.

Travel for the experience, not selfies.

Imagine you’re standing in front of a world-famous monument or place, such as the Eiffel Tower. What are 90% of people around you doing? They’re taking pictures. They’re posting online. They’re talking about Paris on social media. They’re checking how many likes that selfie with the Eiffel Tower got. I’ve been in this situation; I know it too well. Almost no one is actually just looking at the Eiffel Tower, which is truly a shame because it is one of the most beautiful structures on Earth.

This is what happens when we become so obsessed with social media. Our generation is becoming addicted to being online, and it is so difficult to break free. But the cost to us is that we are losing touch with reality. We are losing our appreciation for just living.

Social Media Isn’t All Bad

I don’t believe we should just shut down all social media. It does have its good points, along with the dangers I mentioned above. The key is finding balance.

It is a Way to Build Relationships With Like-Minded People

Social media connects us with people all over the world. We are thus introduced to new cultures, passions, environments, and ways of living. These people are separated by space, but social media puts us in contact with them. It allows us to interact, to get to know each other, to see our similarities and our differences.

At times, through social media, I have formed close friendships with people that I would never have met otherwise. These are people who love to travel, like me and have the same goals and values. These are relationships I still treasure.

You Can Find and Spread Inspiration

So many people have come to me and thanked me for giving them the inspiration to live abroad. The feeling you get when you realise you’ve been able to touch someone’s life is absolutely indescribable. It is one of the greatest joys of social media.

It Allows You to Network

Especially for those in search of work and freelancers, social media is a way to find and apply for jobs. You can network with people in a company where you want to work or pitch ideas to higher-ups.

Give and Get Advice

If you’re looking for advice or tips, you can find it on social media. When you grow your network, you have people with questions that you can answer, or with answers to the questions that you want to ask.

How to Retain the Good and Avoid the Bad

After six years of experience, here are my tips to making a balanced use of social media:

Limit Your Consumption

Don’t just take in what social media feeds you. Remember that much of what is presented to you is either false or is just one side of the story.

Avoid the Feed

If you get caught up in the feed, you can lose hours of your day without even realising it. Instead, focus on the people whose content you actually want to see.

Don’t Follow High Volume Posters That Don’t Care About You

There are so many people that post multiple times a day with an intense focus on themselves and their lives. Don’t get caught in their tangled mess of incessant posting!

Prioritise Your Time

Give your daily tasks a priority rating and do what’s most important first, leaving social media for last. That way you can enjoy it guilt-free!

Sit down and give your daily tasks a priority rating, then do what’s most important for you first.

Take a Break

If you feel that you are becoming addicted to social media, then give yourself a break. Take some time off the online world to connect again with the real world, whether this be one day, one week, or even a whole year.

Hopefully, you all understand now why I’m doing this. My time on social media has given me some wonderful experiences and introduced me to some fantastic people, which I don’t regret at all. But I’ve decided that for me personally, it’s time for a social media detox. It’s been a hard decision to make, but I hope that by outlining my reasons for doing so, I may help others to make the same decision and break their own addiction to social media.

Time to log out the social media and start living the life where likes and dislikes don’t really matter.

My personal Facebook has already been deleted a month ago. I’ve entrusted the care of the rest of my social media channels to trusted friends (which mostly means Cez). For the entirety of 2017, I am not touching social media. Instead, I’ll be focusing on my offline relationships, my travels, sport, and blogging. This is what I need to put my focus back where it belongs.

I look forward to reconnecting with you all and achieving a bit more balance in 2018!

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42 Comments

  • Hey Agness,
    Just want to say that this is a great move IMHO. At the very least, when you come back, you will know how much you missed it and how much you didn’t. I personally don’t focus much on social media. I remember when I started really getting into blogging about a year into it, and I had pinterest, google plus, twitter, facebook, and who knows what else. I was starting to make a schedule. However, when I looked up my favorite sites to read, I realized that none of them were really what you would consider “regular.” I especially liked a video by CGP Grey (almost 3m followers on youtube) about how to get a lot of views, and his response really stuck to me. He said your content brings people, not your social media presence. People want to work with you if you have something interesting to say, and nothing more.
    I think that’s when I realized that my original focus of World Heritage Sites was being lost in all of the fluff. My posts were becoming thinner and I was putting off bigger posts because I literally didn’t have the time because of the social media presence that took half my blogging time. Anyways, I still do it, but only if I feel like it. I figured I didn’t even like twitter, so quit that all together. FB, its alright, but don’t really post anything important that isn’t on automatic from my blog. Instagram…when I feel like it.
    I decided to focus on a huge list on things to do in Korea, and that post alone drives half my views daily.
    I actually really miss your $25 a day posts and hope you do more of those (or $50). While I personally prefer a larger budget, I really thought you had an interesting niche that made me think outside the box when it came to travel. In any case, do whatever feels right for you! Take care.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Julio. We are still running the “travelling for less than $25” series on eTramping but not all of the posts are featured on the front page. You can check them out here: https://etramping.com/budget-travel/under-25/. You also take care and it’s good to know I’m not the only one who is not present on social media channels that much :)

  • Love it! As you know, I don’t like really social media and barely use it, so I applaud your decision. That said, we haven’t kept in touch at all and that’s mainly BECAUSE I barely use social media, so I guess it does have its uses. Maybe I’m just too old…

    • I know, Daniel! We haven’t been in touch for a while, indeed but I also blame myself for that. I was spending way too much time on social media and really neglected reading other blogs. It’s gonna change now and I believe there is a lot of content I need to catch up on on your blog :). P.S. Maybe I’m getting too old as well :)

      • You ARE getting old, but you’ll never catch me unfortunately. You haven’t missed much on my blog. I haven’t updated it in a LONG time.

  • I get it and I feel this is extremely brave coming from a blogger (given how much we feel we NEED social media to promote our blogs/brands). For me, the ideal would not be to live without social media completely but to find a balance between using social media and not using it; to enjoy it for its benefits and prevent myself from becoming wrapped up in the judgment and comparison.

    • Thanks, Michelle. At first, I’ve tried to find the balance but it didn’t work out the way I planned and I had to take few steps back and reflect on the whole social media thing. I disappeared from all channels for a while and I really loved that feeling so I decided to go on a social media detox and it’s been a great decision for me so far :).

  • You’ll probably have a helluva year Agness without the pressure of social media. It definitely has its place but I too am ready for less not more social media. I’d rather stick my nose in a book and learn something or spend time with real friends or dig in the garden….. Have a great year. Good for you for doing what is right for you.

    • More books, less Social Media! :) Thank you for your support and I’m wishing you a lot of travel adventures in 2017! :)

  • Good for you Agness!
    I can proudly say that I never got into the social media thing. I’m basically an addicted traveler and enjoy one on one conversations with other travelers. I do, however, follow about a dozen travel bloggers, you included. I do have a Facebook page, but only because my daughter set it up for me. I’ve never even posted anything on it. Other people send me e-mails of their Facebook postings, and that’s about it. I’ve never been into mass anything. I only like to communicate one at a time. Maybe age has something to do with it, who knows.
    I just sold my house and am off to Southeast Asia for six months of wandering. If our paths cross, lets share stories together over a cup of coffee or a beer. That’s about as social as I get. If you do continue your blog, try spacing them out to once a week or once every two weeks. Quality, not quantity is best. It will do us blog readers a favor.
    We’ll now know you’re mostly traveling and having a good time, and not just pecking away in front of a screen! Happy Trails

    • Good for you, Steve. It might be the age, but my mom is probably the same age as you and she’s been quite addicted to social media channels :). Wishing you all the best with your SE Asia trip. It sounds amazing and I’m proud of you! Definitely quality wins over quantity and I’ve learnt that!

  • Go you Agness! I think everyone needs to detox from social media now and then. I’ve deleted FB from any devices and now I only log on to it when I’m on my computer and remember. I only have instagram and Twitter on one devices to prevent the constant endless scrolling. All for the reasons you’ve listed in your post. I think social media can be great but at the same time quite damaging so it’s really important to take a break and not get sucked into it. All the best for 2017. I’ll be sure to keep up with your travels here xxx

  • Hey Agness!

    This was really great to read, and like I said to you on FB (ironically haha!), massive kudos to you for doing this. I’ve long been tired of the mass of different social media channels – the attention they “required” was easily the main reason I stopped blogging – but haven’t been strong enough to extricate myself from everything in the way you’re doing.

    I’m sure you’ll have an ace year being social media free and that you’ll feel mentally refreshed for it. Your paragraph about how it’s been making you question your lifestyle definitely strikes a chord with me too, so I’ll certainly be doing my best to follow your example and take a long break from those that I still use.

    Look forward to seeing where you’re at during the year and hope to see you again soon!

    • Thanks Carl for sharing! I also hope 2017 will be awesome with no social media. Never question your travels and do what you truly enjoy doing – that’s what I’ve learnt! :)

  • People only like to post positive things online about themselves, so when you’re having a bad time it only makes you feel more alone! Not only that, but when someone does post something negative (like, “I’m having a hard time right now.”) it’s seen as attention seeking and shallow. That’s one of the reasons why I only have a Facebook. I couldn’t even imagine having a snapchat, twitter, and Instagram to keep up with too. My hubpages has even been suffering lately! Too many websites, not enough time. Good decision.

  • its crazy. seriously you look on twitter and see there are people posting every two minutes. I find facebook eternally depressing. I get horribly frustrated by the number of people who do nothing but take selfies at amazing places – like machu picchu. seriously. place was SWAMPED by so many people holding their phones up and taking as many photos if not more than I was, but of themselves. social media is clearly a tool. when i didnt use it my blog was completely unknown. but now i feel compelled to use it. sigh. i need to rethink my use of social media too. anyways at least you’ll be blogging from time to time. now. when are you coming to melbourne to meet tim and myself? :)

    • I couldn’t agree more with you, Andrew. Facebook was way too depressing for me and I was really done with tweeting and instagramming all the time. Now my problems with social media disappeared once I quit it so I’m happy about that.

      I’m exploring South America this year and finishing off my travels across Asia before I head back home in December. In this case it seems like we will see each other next year!! :) But maybe you can see us somewhere in Asia or South America first :)

  • YES!!!! Yes to so much of what you are saying here! You are absolutely spot on, no matter how much we deny it, we are all to some extent trying to create perfect personas and seeking approval and I too realised this year, that I was going to all these beautiful places in the world with my husband, and instead of treasuring these special memories, I was getting so stressed about not getting the perfect Insta pics or not having the wifi to share them in real time. UGH??! This is so not what travel is about (especially for those of us who are doing our blog as a hobby not a job) and now although I haven’t kicked the social media habit fully, I am at least getting a bit better at recognising when it’s OK to step back.

    • Good to know I’m not the only one who sees the problem here! Thanks for sharing love and good luck with limiting your social media access this year :).

  • Hi Agness,
    Great piece (and I can relate to this so much.. though I am not that active on social media).
    Prioritise your time and avoid the feed are really important, which unfortunately really hard to do. I have set several targets for myself since last December, one of it is: have the first hour every day for myself (either do breathing exercise, meditation, do yoga, listen fun music, read something, or do nothing) and not scrolling down social media ;)
    Have an amazing 2017.

  • Great post! I was on Facebook maybe for a month, did not like it at all, deleted my account. Have a fantastic year, wishing you all the best and great travels :)

  • Good on you Agness! Follow your heart and don’t worry about anything else!

    I’ve always believed in doing what YOU feel is right rather than what the blogging world says ought to be done. For example, I only blog once a week. I do a bit of social media in the morning, none at the weekend, and that’s that. I’m not even on Instagram!

    I’m only on 4 platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn (which I only use for my real profession and networking, and has nothing really to do with the blog). I’m not interested in Pinterest, and I won’t even go anyway near SnapChat, which in my eyes is for kids. My blog isn’t for children, so I’m OK with that!

    Keep doing what your doing, create great content, live a wonderful life, love somebody special, and you’ll be surprised that your blog will take care of itself!

    • Thanks, girl! I’m happy to hear you can keep the balance! That’s something I should be learning from you xxx :)

  • Hello! First, I agree with you almost completely! I think a social media detox is a much needed thing for most of us and your points are right on. However, and I am sorry if this seems negative, I just wish to maybe offer some food for thought, you mention that people post impossibly happy items and that this creates a discontent in us (and I agree and have suffered from my own perceptions of not being always impossibly happy), but I found your questioning of the appropriateness of your friend’s divorce announcement sad. Divorces are super hard things. Most are not easy, sign-here-with-minimal-financial/emotional-cost experiences. Your friend probably just traveled through one of the most difficult and lonely experiences in her life and to feel some finality on this difficulty IS cause for celebration and something to share. We don’t all get fairy tale weddings and wonderful marriages and divorce is something necessary (probably 99% of the time). I actually feel for your friend that her friends would use this as an example for them to leave FB or something inappropriate. If she is someone close to you, please offer a virtual hug from this stranger as I empathize with both her need to announce her end to a BIG struggle and the need to have friends and family be happy for her. Again, I am not meaning to be critical, I just hope you can consider this viewpoint. :)

    • Hi Gina,

      Thank you for sharing your point of view. You’re absolutely right. It could be this way and I may have misunderstood her message. Nevertheless, that was just one of many examples of what my friends were capable of sharing on Facebook. I really appreciate the way you shared your thoughts! x

  • Sorry guys for sharing in Polish (use magic tool of google translate if you wish)

    Jestem pelna podziwu i odwagi. Wiele razy zastanawialam sie sama, co jest ze mna nie tak? czemu inni maja perfekcyjne i przebojowe wakacje. Kiedy ludzie maja na to czas? no i pieniadze… Trzeba sobie jednak zdac sprawe z jednej rzeczy: to iluzja. Kreacja naszych umyslow i photoshopa:) perfekcyjne zdjecia/selfie, to nie obraz naszych emocji- ale to wystudiowane zdjecie katalogowe.

    Thanks for sharing :*

  • Hi Agness, I must say that I can see where you are coming from. I also have a pet hate of going to a beautiful place to only see everyone busy taking photos and capturing the moment, but not actually giving any time to really appreciate what is in front of them.. bizarre!

  • Now that it’s been a few months, would you mind sharing your thoughts on how the detox is so far? I’d love to see a post on any benefits you’ve seen so far.

    • Hi Molly. I must admit that my detox has been going great so far and surprisingly, I don’t miss social media at all!! I’m too busy focusing on my offline friendships/partnerships, planning my travels and growing my business. I’m no longer distracted by Facebook and Instagram and there is no pressure of sharing everything I experience on the road. I do miss updates from my close friends, though, but we still share some stuff on WhatsApp and Skype. I’m very happy about my decision and I’ve become more patient and calm … :)

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