Quitting the Social Media that Makes You Unhappy
May 6, 2019
Unlike most of my friends, I was not very exposed to social media in my middle school years, mostly due to the decision my parents made about allowing me to use it. Later, in my high school years, I made some executive decisions regarding my use of the internet. I made a SnapChat and an Instagram during my time at Mercy, but there was one account I seemed to be “missing”: a Twitter. Most of my closest friends were already avid Twitter users and would occasionally send me funny tweets. But, it still felt as though I were missing out on something. So, in December of 2017, I made my Twitter account. However, a little over two years later, I made the decision to never go on Twitter again. In fact, research for this article will be the first time I have been on the website in four months.
The decision to leave Twitter was sort of out of the blue for me. The decision wasn’t even a part of my resolutions for 2019. Ironically, it was inspired by a video I saw on a different social media site: YouTube. I watched a video by youtuber Nathan Zed titled “I quit social media for 4 months.” In the video, he explains his absence from all of social media to his YouTube audience of 484,000 subscribers (not including those who follow him on Twitter exclusively). Zed stated that he felt that being online, 24/7 felt as though he were being controlled. Whenever he was out in public, he felt the need to check his phone every two minutes. He decided that he would attempt to take a week-long break from social media. That week-long break became four months. In the video, Zed admits to slipping up, but it did not stop him from following through with his goal. He says he learned to be alone with his thoughts and emotions without feeling lonely.
After watching this video, I decided to reflect on my social media use. Were the sites I was on making me happy? Were they providing me with good, warm feelings? Mentally, I thought about how each of the social media accounts I had made me feel. I went through my feelings about Tumblr, YouTube, and Pinterest. I could not think of a time on those sites were had felt considerably angry or sad. Yet, Twitter stood out like a sore thumb. Sure, some days I went on the site and saw nothing but hilarious takes about the world and pop culture. But, some of my most angry feelings stemmed from being on Twitter. It seemed as though the meanest, most enraged people in the world converged on this one website just to be resentful together. Whether it was about politics, or threatening any woman who dared to be online, it was pretty awful almost everyday. Still, I kept coming back to the app.
The toxicity of the Twitter environment definitely affected my emotions. I felt a lot more mad at the world. I felt myself complaining more often. With the help of Nathan Zed’s video, I realized that Twitter was making me feel these emotions. And outright quitting was exactly what I needed.
At first, I said I would just quit for a couple of weeks, just to readjust my emotions. Suddenly, those weeks turned into one month and one month turned into four. I did slip up at first. My first week of quitting, I was back on the site by that Sunday because the app was not off my phone yet. So, that Monday evening, I said goodbye to the app on my phone. From then to now, I have been off Twitter. To fill in the “entertainment gap” left by my decision, I have begun to read more online blogs and publications. Right now, I really like to read articles from New York Magazine (and its subsidiary, The Cut).
Now, four months into this commitment, I think I made an excellent choice for myself. Myself is what is key. I am not writing this article to convince you or anyone to leave Twitter, or any social media forever. I am, however, writing this to suggest that everyone, especially young women, analyze how the social media sites they are on are making them feel. Is Instagram making you feel confident? Is Twitter making you a happier person? If the answer to questions like these is no, then maybe quitting is what you need.