Social media has radically changed our lives in a short amount of time. In little more than a decade, it’s allowed us to connect with people all over the world and to stay in touch with close friends. It’s become an essential tool for communication and for sharing lived experiences. It's literally changed the way we interact with each other.
But in that short time, it's also become all too clear that social media has its dark side too. Beyond the online trolls, social media can have a negative impact on our lives if we don’t create healthy boundaries between our on and offline realities.
So when do you know you’ve crossed that line and need to unplug from social media? Here are some signs to look out for if you’re trying to figure out whether it’s time to take a break from your social media life.
1. You Spend Most of Your Day Online
Your brain isn't built to handle the kind of stimulation that social media generates. It becomes addictive to log in and check your likes and follows and to see what your friends are up to. If checking social media has become the first thing you do when you wake up, the last thing you do before you go to sleep, what you do when you have a break, whenever you're bored, or what you'd rather do instead of talk to people in front of you, it's definitely time to press pause.
There’s nothing wrong with checking social media, that’s what it’s there for. It's when it becomes a compulsive habit that makes you zone out from the world around you — that's a serious sign you need to take a break.
2. Your Phone Battery is Always at 15%
If you’re spending so much time staring at your phone that it seems like it’s always about to die, it might be time to take a break from social media — either that, or you’re still rocking an iPhone 5 👏. FOMO is especially strong in our always connected world, but you really won’t miss anything if you spend a couple of hours (or days) off your phone. The social media world will still be humming along with or without your presence when you decide to come back.
Ask yourself — how often are you checking your phone? If you can’t even answer that question because you haven’t put your phone down in the last hour, unclench your texting thumbs and back away slowly from the device.
3. You Feel Your Phone Vibrate, Even When it Doesn’t
Do you sometimes feel like your phone is vibrating when it’s not? Congratulations, you’ve got phantom vibration syndrome!
If your brain is so connected to your device that it creates sensations that feel like it's buzzing — even when there are no notifications at all — it's definitely time to unplug. Your phone is not a sentient being, so it can’t vibrate on its own, folks.
4. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Spoke to a Real Human
Sure, the digital world can be fun, but you can’t forget that you have a real life too. While it can be fulfilling, being online is not a healthy substitute for reality and using it as an escape can sometimes do more harm than good. Have you ever looked up from your phone and realized you can’t remember the last time you spoke to another real-life person? That’s a sure sign it’s time to unplug.
This is especially true if you work remotely, where it's totally possible to go days without speaking to another human. Working from home is great, but it can take a toll on your IRL social skills. Emojis and Slack can only convey so much!
5. Your Feeds Make You Feel Bad About Your Life
We all have those people in our feeds that seem to be living the perfect life — or at least that’s the way they make it look on Instagram. Their house is always spotless, their days are always sunny, and they tend to have a beautiful home-cooked meal on the table every night. It’s been said that social media makes us compare our worst days with other people’s best days — so if you’ve reached a point where scrolling through your feed of staged perfection makes you feel bad about your awesome life, it’s time to take a break.
At the very least, stop following the people or accounts that make you feel inadequate. Nobody needs that kind of negativity in their life.
What’s the surest way to know if you need to take a break from social media? If you’re on social media. It's designed to make you want to look at it — it’s engineered to get you to spend your precious time there no matter how resistant you think you are. If you’re finding it hard to take a break from social media from time to time, it’s really not your fault. Your brain is hardwired for sensory stimulation, and social media is gangbusters for sensory overload.
So if you relate to even just one of these five qualifiers, do yourself a favour and make an honest effort to take a break from social media every now and again. I guarantee your future self will thank you.
Britt is the founder of Tiny Ambitions, a blog, podcast, and creative community where she explores simple, minimalist living. Her journey into minimalism and simple living began in 2014 when she donated, sold, and recycled most of her belongings in favor of a less cluttered life. Her blog and Tiny Bites podcast share personal stories like these about her experiences as a minimalist and how others can take the plunge. It's through her podcast where the Flipd team discovered Britt, and she's been one of our leading ambassadors ever since.
Want to become a Flipd ambassador like Britt? Here's how.