Addicted to social media: On quitting cold turkey

If I were addicted to alcohol, I wouldn’t admit it publicly. If I were addicted to gambling, I wouldn’t admit it publicly. There is shame, judgement and negative attitudes towards these addictions, unlike social media. Phoebe Carre, creative solutions lead, at dentsu, explores quitting social media, cold turkey.

Whilst on Christmas break, I missed swimming with manatees because I was busy finding reception on the island to upload videos to my Instagram stories. I am not an influencer; no one was waiting for my content to drop.

It was at this point that I realised I was addicted to socials, and I had to go cold turkey.

Apparently, smokers trying to give up miss the sensation of holding a cigarette. I find this believable as I missed the sensation of endless scrolling. I desperately wanted to know if Caroline had had her third baby yet, and what she had named her. I wanted to know if Chris had seen Meaghan recently, because they hadn’t done content together in ages, and I was curious what Tom’s latest run challenge was.

I don’t know these people. I just follow them on TikTok and feel the desire to keep up with their day-to-day lives.

In going ‘off-grid’ I wanted to be aware of the changes I felt and experienced.

Cards on the table, I have only been offline for a couple of weeks, so I am in no position to preach, but hey, I work in media and at the end of the day I am trained to sell the unsellable…so here goes.

A few things I have proudly achieved in the past few weeks: I have successfully completed an online university course in behavioural finance and read three books (imagine how much scrolling I must have done to find the time to do this).

As proud as I am of the above, it wasn’t what surprised me, nor my main sell factor to going offline.

There is a loneliness epidemic in Australia. 1 in 4 Australians regularly feel lonely.

A psychology paper published last year stated that social media “can lead to tremendous stress, pressure to compare ourselves to others, and increased sadness and isolation.”

We wouldn’t take medication if it came with the above side-effects. But the addiction of likes, comments, notifications and algorithms that match our weird obsessions keeps us addicted.

I hope you’ve read this far, because this is where I saw change in going cold turkey.

Since scrapping the socials I have never before felt so connected.

I am unable to see what my friends (and friends-of-friends) are up to. This has meant I have had to make an effort to contact them and even catch up. I can’t be a lazy friend anymore. Previously, if I saw a mate’s holiday images, I felt like I knew how their trip was, so no need to call and get the run down.

In the few weeks I have been offline, I have had friends from around the world call me, text me and share images of their lives. I genuinely know how they are, which is not always the same as how they appeared online. I am organising more catchups, because I want to be and hear the story, not watch their stories.

I wouldn’t have considered myself lonely, but on reflection I was under an illusion I was connected because of what I saw, but now I feel connected. Those two sensations are wildly different.

The ‘sober curious’ are a growing population of people who choose to be mindful of their consumption, rather than the previously held perspective of drinking or not drinking. Even the reduction in consumption benefits their mental and physical health.

Apply this framework of thinking to socials.

You don’t have to delete your profiles to benefit feeling connected, you can choose to set your own boundaries, such as only logging on for X amount of time, X days a week.

At Carat we design media strategies around people, with the intent to make their everyday lives better. So, if reducing social media consumption would benefit people, how do we sell that to a client who pays us to connect and grow their social following?

Own ‘offline curious.’

Imagine encouraging a client of yours to launch ‘Sign-off Sundays.” #Sundayreset is already a trend, so have a brand own the idea of completely logging off just one day a week so we can build better community connections.

I choose to not be lonely, and continue to connect with people in the real-world for the unseen future.

My name is Phoebe, and I am a social media addict.

Phoebe Carre is creative solutions lead at dentsu.


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