Opinion: How to cut back on your social media usage

On occasion, a stranger says something or does something that is so out-of-pocket and hilarious, but you only catch it if you’re paying attention. Experiences like that more than make up for the occasional discomfort.


Piper Summer, Contributing Writer

Two weeks before I went to college, I made the decision to deactivate or delete all my social media. Seems like a pretty radical decision to make right before what can be one of the most tumultuous times in someone’s life, especially when you’re a five-hour flight across the country away from home. 

As a freshman, I worried about not being able to make friends, that the friends I made wouldn’t keep up with me, or that I would miss out on invites to events. All these fears were very valid and were compounded by the alienating experience I had in middle school and the beginning of high school before I had Instagram and Snapchat. However, making the decision not to have social media for myself and my own health has been very empowering. 

Some observations about being social media-free in college:

  1. I’ve noticed that although I have fewer friendships than I’ve had in the past, the friendships I maintain tend to be of higher quality. People that want to hang out with me have to put in the effort to send me a text, and so when people invite me to hang out, it feels a lot more personal. If there is something I need to know, I noticed that my friends are pretty quick to pass it on.
  2. It can certainly be a little nerve-wracking asking someone for their number, even in a friendly context, but I’ve noticed that it really isn’t as big of a deal as I thought it was!
  3. When I return to my dorm for the night, class drama or gossip doesn’t follow me in the same way. As someone that has experienced severe anxiety in the past, not having social media drama in my life has allowed me to feel calmer.
  4. I’ve still connected with my friends from back home, although not as many as before. I have to think about them unprompted and make a conscious effort to send a text. This has meant that I don’t talk anymore to a lot of people I used to talk to frequently, but I cherish those that I still talk to all the more.

Tips for cutting down on social media: 

  1. Monitor your screen time! I usually try and see what apps are the biggest offenders (I spent 15 hours on iMessage last week. Oops.) and come up with strategies to cut down. These strategies can include turning off notifications or using “Communication Limits” on iMessage, where you can set limits for certain people.
  2. Not to be all “book good phone bad” (does anyone remember that meme?), but reading is seriously beneficial. There are more than a hundred billion books in the world, and there’s at least one out there for you. There’s something to gain from even the corniest celebrity memoir that was most definitely ghost-written.
  3. Find a new hobby! Whether you want to take up rock climbing (I recently have!) or bird watching, finding a new hobby can be extremely fulfilling. There’s no rule that says you have to be good at your hobby. Going to Open Mic night at the local coffee shop to read poetry about how much you love Doritos is a great way to spend an evening. Finding a skill you want to improve outside of a school setting can take the pressure off of the process of learning.
  4. Finding creative ways to reach out can allow you to still feel connected without social media as a middleman! While sometimes numbers change, or a friend simply does not check their texts, I’ve found that most people are willing to respond and give a quick update. 
  5. If you’re not sure if being off-the-grid is for you, deactivate instead of delete. TikTok gives you a 30-day period before permanently deleting your data, and Instagram will allow you to deactivate your account indefinitely. Twitter and Snapchat, are not so gracious, you can make the accounts private or delete the app rather than the account. That way, if you have something you need (like photos of last year’s Halloween costume for Spanish class), it’s easy to download temporarily. 
  6. You don’t have to cut everything out, and what counts as social media to me might not count to you. Whether or not you consider dating apps a form of social media, or messaging apps like Discord, is up to you. This is your life! You’re free to go with your gut.
  7. My biggest challenge has been to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. The little pauses throughout the day can be boring, like waiting in line for your coffee. However, it can be worth it to be in the moment. On occasion, a stranger says something or does something that is so out-of-pocket and hilarious, but you only catch it if you’re paying attention. Experiences like that more than make up for the occasional discomfort.