Rebecca Algie for Varsity

A few years ago, I gave up social media completely for Lent. I chose to do it to see if I could manage spending 40 days social media free, but what I found really surprised me: I enjoyed my life without social media. I didn’t want to go back to using it as much as I had before. I was noticeably happier after Lent than I had been before. I didn’t even feel like I’d missed out on anything particularly important. What I realise dis that social media isn’t something you have to do – it’s a luxury, and therefore something that’s only worthwhile if it’s bringing positive things to your life.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 87% of adults use the internet daily, with most of them using it for social media. And these numbers are steadily growing. Its ubiquity makes it difficult to completely give up social media – and I myself haven’t. But I have made big changes to the way I use it, which I thought I’d share here.

  1. Unfollowing people

Simple, but highly effective. The first step for me once Lent was over was, as you might expect, unfollowing a LOT of accounts. I went through the lists of people I was following on each platform and asked myself if I really wanted to see what they were posting. It surprised me how many accounts I swiftly unfollowed. To avoid drama, it was mainly celebrities and brands that I unfollowed. But just to be clear, you should unfollow anyone who you don’t think adds anything beneficial to your social media feeds.

  1. Ask yourself the difficult questions

This brings me on to my second point. You need to be in control of your own social media use. It should be consciously used for things like keeping in touch with family and friends, for example, or reading about interesting things. But so much of the time I used to (and still, sometimes) spend on it is mindless – mindlessly scrolling, mindlessly reading random things, mindlessly looking at random posts. A massive change I’ve made is trying to only use social media when I can ask myself why I’m using it and answer with something other than “because I’m bored and ignoring all the other things I could be doing.”

  1. Find other relaxing activities

I found that often I was mindlessly scrolling through social media apps because ultimately, it’s relaxing, and it doesn’t require any skills or effort. So I needed to find other enjoyable and relaxing things that could be equally as easy to do. This step is easier said than done, but I do try to always have a podcast on the go. I’m particularly enjoying Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata’s Best Friends at the moment, as it covers any and every topic in the way that my Twitter feed might once have done. I try to have a book on me too.


Mountain View

Wanderlust, and a case of the Cambridge travel bug

I think the main thing that’s important with social media is using it in a conscious way. Social media firms use incredibly sophisticated technology to make sure we spend as much time on their platforms as possible, no matter what we’re doing – Facebook, for example, makes 1 cent for every minute that an individual user spends online. And they have one billion users. So to be fair on us, fighting social media is never going to be easy. But following people you like, using it for things you want to do, and essentially, reaping its benefits is one way to start.

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