– Ben Martens

Social Media Pause

About a month ago, I pulled the trigger and removed a bunch of “habit” apps from my phone. Instagram, Reddit, and my news app all got uninstalled. I decided I’d go for at least a week and see what happened. The result scared me enough that I’m still on a break from them.

I found that I would unconsciously pull out my phone and tap the screen where Instagram used to be. I purposely left that spot blank just to make the point to myself and I wish I had a way to track how many times I clicked that empty space!

It’s been a month now. Reddit is still uninstalled and so is my news app of choice. I can still access both of those on the web if I choose to, but that one extra step is enough that I rarely go there. (This isn’t going to be a fun 6 months of US news reading anyway so I’m fine skipping that mess.) Instagram did get reinstalled, but I limit myself to viewing it about once per week and I use the obscure UI menus to only look at posts from people I follow and skip all the suggested posts. Doing that in bulk helps me realize which accounts I’m interested in and which ones were just there to keep my feed populated with new stuff so I’ve been able to cut down on what I subscribe to.

This pause also helped me realize that I do like using Instagram stories to throw random content out into the ether to be consumed by anyone who chooses to use it. It feels more friendly than spamming text threads with too much content (which I probably do anyway.) That’s one of the same reasons that I like keeping this blog up too.

For now, I feel better reining things in a bit so that the phone is mostly just a utility that helps me in my life instead of a dopamine producer that I open out of habit. This isn’t the first time I’ve done stuff like this so I know it will creep back in, but at least there are periods of sanity.