Reduce Your Social Media Usage - Jasmine Barlow

“When your mental health becomes impacted by social media then it is time for a detox.” ~ Germany Kent

On April 30th, I posted a video titled “May is for Mental Health“. As usual, no one saw it. This was okay since I planned to make at least one video per week to spread the wonders of mental health and help reduce stigma – somehow. First, I needed to delete my favorite social media app – TikTok.

In order to delete my 75+ drafts on TikTok, I had to delete the app. However, once I deleted the app I had no desire to redownload it. This is what began my 30-day social media detox.

I’ve decided to walk through the changes in my social media habits and hopefully help some poor soul who struggles with the same issues I do (anxiety, loneliness, etc.)

Now, let’s get into “Reduce Your Social Media Usage”.

1. Track Your Social Media Usage

Most likely, if you have a social media problem you also have a smart phone. Facebook works best on desktop, but Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, etc are made for mobile devices.

You phone likely has the option to track your app data. Using you app data you can see how long you spend on each app every day, and beyond!

Android users, such as myself, have Digital Wellbeing. We can set timers, create screen time goals, and schedule focus times. There’s a driving monitor for people who connect their car and phones via Bluetooth.

My favorite feature is Bedtime Mode: the screen becomes grayscale, notifications are off, and you quickly lose interest and go to bed!

As an example for these features, here’s a photo!

Digital Wellbeing Example

As you can see, I’ve been catching up on my webcomics ;0)

If you use an iPhone here are the instructions. 

2. Ask Yourself "Why Am I On This App?"

Why do you use social media in the first place? I’ll go first: I was lonely. 

I met a few other twenty-somethings who were passionate about social justice, women’s rights, civil rights, psychology, anime, etc.

Whatever your interests may be there is someone making content about it. The plus side of TikTok was that it’s so casual and you can start conversations easily.

The downside is that people are haters, and I mean racist, queerphobic, misogynistic haters. The relief from meeting people like me was met with overwhelming bullying and harassment.

At the end of the day, no matter how comfortable we become talking about our lives as part of marginalized communities, we are still living in a society that does not value our lives. This was a lot to deal with.

So, I asked myself “why am I still on this app?” a lot. There’s no rush, take some time to reflect on your own reasons. Weigh the pros and cons. No decisions, just analysis.

3. Be Honest About Your Mental Health

My most popular YouTube video is “Why I Won’t Quit Social Media” where I talk about my conflicting beliefs about social media.

I understand the psychology of these apps, how developers use our brains’ responses to stimulation to increase engagement for profit, no matter than cost to the health of users (especially teenagers).

At the same time, I wanted to try something new and learning to create content on social media required me to devote hours on these platforms. If you watch the video, you can see that I am exhausted. I do not look well, and yet I speak as if I was okay.

Lying to myself, I wanted to become a new version of myself, while remaining true to my values. The more I learned and created, the more I contradicted myself. If I truly wanted to succeed and create a platform, I would have to sacrifice my desire to be my authentic self online.

Have you notice changes to your health since using social media? Are you sick more often? Have trouble sleeping? Reflect on how you feel when you’ve spent a day offline vs lost in an endless scroll.

If you limit yourself to the occasional daily feed check (or monthly) you may notice little difference. If you spend all your free time glued to your phone, you may feel differently.

Conclusion

The moment I chose to become a TikTok creator, I began a never-ending cycle of de-stressing with funny videos only to become stressed from negative comments.

I compared my YouTube videos to the creators I love and mutuals who knew they needed to set limits to avoid burnout. I procrastinated on this blog too.

In the end, I’ve come full circle, recognizing that I was both right ad wrong about a lot of things. This post is not psychological advice nor a guide on how to live your life.

I simply wanted to share pieces of my own experiences and encourage you to take some time away from your phones.

Maybe you’ll delete your favorite app, the app you anguished over deleting, only to find that you didn’t miss much. In fact, you missed much more before you checked in on your true feelings and motivations.

Reduce Your Social Media Usage - Jasmine Barlow

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