True Story: I Went Two Weeks Without Social Media
By: Ashley Robison

social media detox
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Sounds dramatic, right?

(Or maybe you look at the headline and think, “Two weeks without social media? That’s so EASY!” Shush you.)

Since I began blogging 5.5 years ago, social media (and my blog) have taken hold on my life. I’ve been an early adopter for most major networks and use them extensively.  This past year I’ve been overwhelmed. Something had to give in my life as I balance wedding planning, a new job, and other priorities.  Christmas break provided me ample time and opportunity to find out what life was like without social media. No blog. No Twitter. No Facebook. No statistic sites and no Klout. (The only pleasure I gave myself was Pinterest, as it’s the only social media site I consider “personal” still.)

Four things I’ve learned from my social media “break”…

  • The importance of what I post. there were many times during the break when I’d think, “ARGH! Why can’t I share this on Facebook?”  A few minutes later, I’d think, what does it matter if I share that? No one cares that I just did XYZ.  In the two weeks I spent offline, I realized that what all of us share regularly? It’s really not.that.important.  Just extra “noise” in an already loud world.  So think about what you’re going to say, the impact it could make, and speak precisely.
  • Social media doesn’t have a huge impact on my site. As a mid-range site, my own personal tweets and updates don’t have a sizable impact on my site’s daily traffic. A well-placed tweet from a larger blogger may, but my own? Not so much. Stepping back from social media showed me that the effort I may put into Facebook and Twitter to promote my site may not have the payoff that I hope for. Stepping back and spending less time on them yields the same results.  Your traffic may vary, but if you’re putting a lot of time into it, with little payoff, maybe you should reconsider how to use your time.
  • When to SHUT IT DOWN. I was the kind of girl to keep my email, Facebook, and Twitter open. All day, every day. Constantly running in my background.  Since my ban? I don’t keep them open and running all day. I pop in once or twice at night, and a few times throughout the work day. And my head feels a lot more free because of it.
  • No one will notice you’re gone….And the world still goes on.  WHOA, whut?! The world… goes on. The ultimate existential crisis, right?  If I don’t get on Twitter, it keeps going? It does. People will still comment, visit, and move along through their days.  Social media moves so quickly that if you stop for just a minute? Very few are going to notice because someone else is going to fill in that void with noise. 

 

It’s been only a few days since my ban ended, but I’m already feeling more free having completed this experiment. I feel more confident posting a few thoughtful posts, or engaged conversations out into the world and calling it a day.

How healthy is your relationship to social media? Have you ever put a self-imposed ban on yourself? And what was the impact? (Did you have a similar experience to me?)

Comments

  1. I think that is an awesome idea, I just don’t know how good I would be at sticking to it! Amazing to think how Social Media runs our lives now.

  2. Jacki says:

    I’m taking February off from Facebook, and it’s going to be difficult, but that’s why I’m doing it! My mindless browsing of FB is out of hand. I won’t take a full social media break because I’m not addicted to IG, G+ or Twitter the way I am to FB.

    In theory, I already *know* the things you learned from your social media break. But in practice? I need to actually *learn* and *apply* them! What I’m hoping to gain from my self-imposed break is a more healthy relationship with FB and a more responsible “consumption,” so to speak, of it. I want what I post to be thoughtful and I want to learn to keep the mindlessness in check!

  3. I need to do this. I’d have to uninstall the apps on my phone to make it through. But after an anniversary weekend away, I realize I’m addicted. It made my hubby mad too, because everywhere we went and everything we did, I had to tag it or Instagram it. I need to get a grip!

    • It’s funny you mention Instagram, Vahni– because it was Instagram’s change in ToS and my decision to kill the account that actually led to this. I loved Instagram and the filters, but felt so free deleting my account– like this burden of instagramming for likes and comments had been relieved. I wondered how the rest felt, and realized I had lived too long under the pressure of “engagement.”

  4. Monica says:

    As a blogger for over 5 years as well I find that my social media i.e facebook , instagram don’t bring in a huge amount of traffic that warrants me glued to it all day. However, twitter still engages alot of feedback for me but I’m not that attached to it…good experiment. My hubbie is not thrilled with all the social media I do either as the above comment also mentions.

    • Brynn says:

      Social media sites as purely traffic drivers is not a 100% solid strategy, like you mention. But Twitter in the beginning stages is a way to get instant traffic through hashtags.

      But yes, I think people over-emphasize social media as a way to have better traffic/SEO, which is a myth.

  5. sahra says:

    This is great! I’ve been having similar thoughts lately, so yesterday my friend and I shut our phones off for the day and hid them in a cabinet. I’d wanted to InstaGram my breakfast but then I had that thought you’re familiar with; “who cares?”

    We had an enjoyable, calm day and my friend and I plan to do a 90′s week; no phones or laptops or internet. just us, the tv, a landline (they still exist!?) and disposable cameras. it’s so refreshing to step away for a bit :D

  6. Avatar of
    Into the Row says:

    I don’t know because it seems like the only time I’m not thinking about logging on to my social media accounts is when I’m sleeping. The internet is playing a huge role in our lives and the way we communicate today.

    xoxo,
    Into The Row

  7. Avatar of Petya
    Petya says:

    It’s a great idea!
    Actually, I tried to do it once, but i failed. :( I only resisted one day without social media. But this is so inspiring. I have to try this again. :D

    http://instyle21.blogspot.com

  8. Avatar of Andria Rivers

    This is the one area in which being such a private person actually helps me. I don’t feel the need to constantly check or update any of my social media accounts with personal updates. HOWEVER, I was slightly addicted to checking my emails. It got to the point where I was at work checking my emails on my phone every 30 minutes. I removed my email accounts from my phone and now only check it 1-2 times per day. I feel so free :)

    Andria
    Indie Punk Goddess

    • Avatar of Ashley Robison

      Yes! I had that problem too. I used to feed all of my emails into one account, and would check it obsessively. Now I make myself log in, physically on the computer, with each one. Makes it MUCH easier to reduce how often I’m checking them– and gives you a freer mind!

  9. lisa says:

    I have my social media accounts and blog email open all day, every day on weekdays, but on weekends I like to unplug from it all. Otherwise, it gets to be too much of an energy drain and doesn’t feel fun anymore. :P

  10. I was always that way…never let the pressure of whats going on every second make you go onto facebook and twitter. Just have a time where you check here and there, at lunch, on a break, then you wont feel so overwhelmed.

  11. Avatar of Pinksole

    I really pay close attention to my traffic, and I could close all my social media account right now and that will make little to no difference to my blog traffic. I just have them so that I can give my reader an alternative way to get my blogposts or to potentially attract new readers. And if I ever become a big shot blogger (yea right!) it’s good to have my social media account already set up. I think they make your blog look more legit lol.

    xo
    http://pinksole.com

  12. Avatar of Allison
    Allison says:

    I really should take a break from Twitter (confession: I keep it open all day), but I love connecting with and responding to tweets from other bloggers. I think part of the reason I find it hard to shut down is because I see successful bloggers use it A LOT, so I feel like I should be doing the same. I think it would be fun to take a break. I’m just not ready to yet.

    -Allison
    asimplestatement.com

  13. Avatar of MonicaP
    MonicaP says:

    Since starting my blog back in Nov 2012, it’s the first time I’ve really enjoyed Twitter .. so at this point I’m going to keep on ‘tweeting’.

    If I’m still blogging 5 years from now .. I’m sure I’ll need the break :-)

    Monica
    http://www.pear-shaped-gal.com

  14. Angie says:

    I’m brand new to blogging, but not to social media because I also own a small publishing company. I installed a timer for my browser that blocks the sites of your choice after a certain amount of time and between any times of day. Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest are my worst time-suckers, so I have it set to blocks those sites after 90 minutes of use (for ALL 3 combined) between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm. It has increased my work productivity a ton since I installed it a couple months ago. I can still check things as needed for my business, but I get in and get out much faster! I use Chrome and the app is StayFocusd. I highly recommend it.

  15. Avatar of Lydia
    Lydia says:

    This is so true. We all need to step out a little once in a while!

    ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com

  16. Well, I did it last year but it was only for a week. I realised that nobody visited the blog as they frequently do everyday, the stats were so “poor”, and when I get back again after that short break the stats were back to their normality. but also gained some followers in other social networks. :)

    XOXO

  17. amanda says:

    I took a “social media break” once for three weeks but it was more of a forced break. I was visiting my grandparents in Mexico and the small town they live in barely has dial up. (And if you remember the 90s and the screeching agony that is dial-up, you don’t want to re-live it.) There were times where I wish I could have logged onto FB just to say, “GUYS, I RODE MY FIRST HORSE!!!!!” and the like, but couldn’t. After a few days of “detoxing” you really don’t remember it and actually start to live life. You fill up those wasted moments that you spend checking status’ and ignoring the people you’re actually spending time with, just to ‘like’ some image of somebody using correct grammar.

  18. facebook has become and addiction for many people. I don’t think those people can even live one day without it.

  19. Avatar of MARIA_stilist

    I tried to do the same about a half year ago, that is why i perfectly understand what you are talikng about. It is so more pleasant to live in a real life, leaving the virtual existence for the others to care about.
    regards,
    Maria

    http://www.stilistmoldova.blogspot.com

  20. Avatar of Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I am definitely in need of a media fast! I wonder what it’d be like for a social media manager? Anyway, great post!

    http://wh4reever.blogspot.com

  21. Avatar of moiminnie
    moiminnie says:

    This is so great, these advices you’ve been able to pull from your experience are so useful for blog growth. I consider my relationship healthy-ish, as I check all networks few times a day but do not keep them opened in tabs. I also don’t have the urge to share everything online so maybe that’s the main reason I stayed sane haha! I’m also a strong believer in “less is more” saying so I only post the things I find are relevant for my readers.
    .
    xx, minnie @ http://www.moiminnie.blogspot.com

    .

  22. devraaj says:

    Very interesting and great points. Some see social media as the “solution” to all problems while others see it as the demise of society! Social media is a tool. How businesses use that tool is really the key.

  23. Oh My God 2 Weeks, Ya I understand that I want to share my tragedy last year on December holidays my family want to go outside but i want to go for holidays without my PC, i can’t be but my feonsay told me to leave this and have fun on this new year and you can’t imaged that i am really happy all the time.

    http://tiny.cc/c2jorw

  24. Avatar of Karen Ussene
    Karen Ussene says:

    Well in the past I spent a few weeks without much internet contact. I was in Mozambique (Africa) for a month. I did checked my emails here and there because I had too (I was going to do an internship in Prague), but I survived, because I had other things to keep me entertained. Family, the beaches and etc…
    But right not I’m a internet junky. Since I’m jobless I don’t have much to do :S

  25. Jeimmy Grosland says:

    I think this was a great idea! I recently just started blogging a little bit for a class I am taking for college. It’s interesting to read some of the things you experienced. I think people know this but social media has become so much of our lives that it can be very defficult to do anything else when we go online. My favorite part was where you said, ‘the world Does keep moving on’. Im not sure if I could do what you did because of just plain habit. And like trying to stop biting my nails, breaking habits are not always easy!!

  26. Avatar of Mimi
    Mimi says:

    Good job! I know that I just can’t allow my self to have a facebook or instagram because I will become totally addicted. At some point I’m going to try and take a technology free week just to prove to my self I am not dependent on anything. Inspiring, thank you.

    http://dreaminginfashion.wordpress.com/

  27. Avatar of The Workette
    Cassy says:

    i would love to tray that and see what happens to me. Since I’ve been back on twitter for blog purposes, I cannot put it down. Partly because it adds to my entertainment of the day but I love having conversations with other bloggers!

  28. Deborah says:

    Very interesting!.. I re-call back in 2005 I was without a computer for a month… It was like my right arm had been cut off. It is very addictive social media but it’s possible to take a break – de-tox and change direction even for awhile. Do it. It’s not impossible and it’s a real refreshing!

  29. Zamri says:

    Whoa, bravo! I’ve been keeping mum for almost 5 weeks without social media. Can’t believe how free I feel compared to being too much hooked up to them before. I stop tweeting, Instagramming and blogging; and I do feel that I’ve been missing a whole chunk what ‘real life’ has got to offer. It’s awesome to be able to do other stuff, even simple things like raking up the leaves, taking up gardening etc. It’s amazing.
    I think everybody should do too. At least try it out. Take a break from social media.. Feel the freedom! :)

  30. Avatar of tiffany_loh
    tiffany_loh says:

    I actually am on a self-imposed social media ban. Not to the severity of yours but I’ve deleted instagram and facebook off my phone, I don’t twitter all that much anyway. I can use social media when I’m on the computer – my day job as an online editor makes it hard not to.

    It’s amazing what it’s done. I have so much more free time and when I see my friends there’s so much more to discuss when catching up. Another positive is that I’m actually sleeping, I used to have a hard time falling asleep but not so much now I don’t feel the urge to scroll through my instagram feed if I can’t fall asleep in 10 minutes.

    http://petitestreet.net

  31. Sam smith says:

    Anyone that lets social media take over or control their life is a loser. No one cares what you’re about to eat. No one cares what you’re wearing, and no one cares who you are. Get a life folks.

  32. Avatar of Jasmine_K
    Jasmine_K says:

    I spent a whole month without a computer, and I felt a whole lot more better for it. When you’re on the computer so much you kind of forget about the more important things in life that actually make you happy instead of just wasting your time. I’d happily live without social networks but it’s something you have to do when you want a successful blog, and that kinda sucks. :/

    http://styledandwired.blogspot.co.uk/

  33. Lisa says:

    Boy this read and especially the comments are an eye opener. Up to this point I could stop my social media campaign and I would not really notice the drop, if any, in traffic coming from FB, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter as well as Stumbleupon and all the other accounts I have. To hear that others have the same opinion definitely gives me pause. Am I doing this for no real purpose, other than the “joy” of doing it? I have to smile as perhaps I have simply fallen for the “potential” in traffic, that really doesn’t exist. All I can say is wow, and not a good wow.

    http://www.flirtylingerie.com

  34. Avatar of Wotshernameagain

    Great post!
    I dont think I am ready to have a break from social media btu i think i need to…..

  35. Avatar of Charles E.
    Charles E. says:

    If no income is gained directly or indirectly, then social media is just an accessory in life. Just like fashion accessories. You can live with or without it. Correct me if I am wrong. Cheers!

  36. Avatar of Urbanika Moda

    Hi Ashley! It is a good idea I want to put into practice to measure my productivity in other areas of my life, this article has been very useful, thanks you!! :)

    http://www.urbanikamoda.blogspot.com

  37. Avatar of Serena M
    Serena M says:

    I think I want to disappear for a few weeks just to see if anyone notices I am missing. I never thought of that – and because social media takes up so much of my time, let’s see if my online “friends” will even think about me.

  38. M says:

    I would like to do this. I really would. But I don’t feel like I know enough people/see people to really make use of the time differently. I wish things were different there. I see the same people posting the same useless ‘noise’ on social media, every day, but all I really want is to meet new, fresh, people, outside of the internet, as I know my absence will be irrelevant, but i’m not so good at that anymore… I only really like IG, for inspirational purposes really.

  39. Lizzie says:

    I closed my FB account 2 years ago and have lived “Facebook-free” ever since. I am a more contented, peaceful person without all that extra noise in my life. Talking to friends I’ve learned many others feel the same way. They’re exhausted- physically, mentally, emotionally- with social media.

  40. Dani says:

    I really pay close attention to my traffic, and I could close all my social media account right now and that will make little to no difference to my blog traffic.

  41. Avatar of Xina
    Xina says:

    funny i came across this. i have entered my tortured blogger / artist phase and i keep thinking wtf am i doing sacrificing so much for all these people to get free services from me. so i want to do a two day expiriment to shut everything off cept instagram.

    http://www.therenegadefw.blogspot.com

  42. Avatar of Gabriela
    Gabriela says:

    Cool ideaI’m taking october off from Twitter and Tumblr…

  43. Riley says:

    Great list to reflect and learn on! I feel social media really is a downfall to many people, especially if it’s not for business use! (Even with business use, as you worded great, if you don’t have many followers/likes/engagement, it only helps so much).

    Great content = organic traffic from Google = more time for yourself, writing great blog posts, and brain storming new ideas :)

    I’d like to share a video I have made on my thoughts toward social media:
    http://youtu.be/ngWPnUSm4OE

    Glad to hear your thoughts and results Ashley — Don’t fall back in! ;)

    Riley !

  44. Wallace says:

    I really wish that were an option for some of us. I often find myself even on vacation turning on the laptop late at night browsing the social media world. Unfortunately, this will never been an option for me….

  45. Avatar of AngelMeow
    AngelMeow says:

    There are people who hate how excessive technology is becoming in the hands of consumers. The more you have, the more you get sucked into this glamorous online world where everyone’s on Instagram straight flexin’. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a table where everyone I’m with is literally on their smartphones doing something else instead of hanging out in “the real world”. Yes, I can live without social media. Yes, I can actually say it’s EASY without a doubt because I haven’t replaced a limb with a smartphone. Once people “unplug”, they tend realize what actually matters and what doesn’t.

  46. I’ve weened off Facebook dramatically since the starting of the New Year. Has it really only been 20 days??? lol. I’ve been on Social media since my kids were born 5 yrs ago and I’ve realised my attention has been more in the media than on my kids. When they grow up all they’re gonna remember is momma being attached to her computer/ phone, etc. telling them.. “hold on, let me just answer to this one thing.” And like you said. “Does my activity post even matter” My focus is toward the wrong direction. It is hard when my business is totally online. But I’ve decided that my attention will be redirected to my kids first. After connecting Google Analytics with my blog, I saw that very little traffic is from Facebook. There’s a lot of likes but they must be mindless liking. In all that time I could of been way more advanced in getting my business out there in the blog business world. Now, every time I feel the need to get on my phone/ laptop, I start looking for new blogs to read. They’ll definitely be more educational than whatever Shelsia had for lunch.

  47. Haha very entertaining piece!

    Unfortunately, I cannot sympathise with you – I am from a generation where social media and the like aren’t necessities, they’re just a nice way to waste a few minutes if you can spare them. In saying that, I do have teenage children and I commend you on being able to stay away for 2 whole weeks – my kids couldn’t handle it for 2 whole hours in my opinion!

  48. Deepika Joshi says:

    We all know that social media is playing a more and more important role in all our lives, whether personal or professional.

  49. Avatar of emmarose
    emmarose says:

    Hi, I’m writing my university dissertation on the relationship between fashion magazines and fashion bloggers. I’d love for some of you guys to get involved and tell me your thoughts. Please fill out this quick survey for me- it will take 2 minutes and I know that you guys will have plenty to say about it!
    https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RCDVNQR

    Thanks, Emma Rose
    xxx

  50. Al Fortran says:

    I know the power of social media and it’s a good thing to say no [sometimes :) ] to it. Keeps my sanity and clear direction in life. Thanks for letting me know there’s someone out there who feels the same.

  51. Tre says:

    This is great! I think we all at some point wish you could step away for awhile.

  52. Avatar of Sanju kmr
    Sanju kmr says:

    I Can’t live without Social Media..;)

  53. Sona says:

    Hi Ashley,
    I run a bizness & lifestyle quarterly in Shenzhen city, China. Would you consider contributing this article for our magazine. If yes, let me know also your 4 line introduction to go along with the article. And a picture / graphic.
    regards,
    Sona Ghose

  54. Vivian says:

    From an ecommerce standpoint, my selling experience on Facebook was a total failure. It did give me good traffic, but no sales, not a single sale. This is the contrary to my website: little traffic, but steady sales. This explains why I have ditched social media for a long time without regrets. I’m talking years….As a person, this is ok for me. But on the other hand, people argue that a biz should use social media and stay active in the network to create enough buzz about their brand. So at some point I need to get back to it. A little off topic here…but you get my point.

What do you think?