Online Detox: Ending my social media addiction

According to various surveys, people now spend one-quarter of their waking hours dedicated to FB, Snapchat, and Instagram. Sorry, but this is mostly time completely wasted! It’s also I sign we are not in control of our lives.

Social media wields such a strong influence on us because it appeals to our deepest psychological instinct – the need to be social. It gives us social validation. When we post something that receives likes and shares, we feel validated. The brain produces the chemicals Dopamine, which leaves us with a feeling of accomplishment, and Oxytocin, which makes us feel close to others. Fear of missing out is another reason people find it difficult to switch off. FOMO stems from our natural feelings of insecurity.

Social media also provides a platform for our egos. It helps us maintain a favorable image of ourselves.

These feelings can lead to addiction.

Recently I recognized that I was spending about a third of my waking hours on social media. I felt disgusted as I realized I was wasting my time – and my life.

So, I decided to take action and last month made the difficult but important decision to quit social media for 7 whole days. I announced to everyone I was doing this (on social media!) and then turned off all my apps. It was extremely tough at first – I was used to always checking my phone – but I got used to it faster than I thought possible.

Now I am back on social media but I limit my time on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to just two 30 minute sessions a day, and about double that at weekends. I feel great for doing it!

I also plan to repeat my 7 day social media ‘detox’ every couple of months, just to stay in control of myself.

While a complete digital detox may not be an option for you, I can’t recommend enough that you try limiting the time you spend on social media. Like giving up any drug, it’s hard at first but you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment afterwards. I sure did!

Social media addiction is a much larger problem than we think. And like all addictions, realizing the problem is the first step towards healing.

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Sarah is a British expat living in Bahrain. This is her first article for Bahrain Confidential.