The Social Media Detox - Max Jancar
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The Social Media Detox

By Max Jancar | Updated: January 24, 2022 | 10 Minute Read | Recovery

Social Media After A Breakup

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Imagine this: you’re almost over your ex, almost out of the pain, almost done with this shit. But just as you’re brushing against the contours of acceptance, it happens.

One random morning, while taking that signature morning dump, you see a Facebook post on your newsfeed. It’s a photo of your ex, all glammed up and beaming, and holding hands with an attractive stranger.

Seeing the photo feels like someone bitchslapped your soul away. You want to throw up. You want to cry. You want to punch a wall. You want a drink… or ten. You want to do all that while taking your signature morning dump.

Welcome back to square one, fuckface.

It’s these sorts of experiences that a social media detox helps you avoid. It helps you dodge your ex’s “oh look at my new life, I’m so amazing!” posts, their dating-life updates, any other digital shit that has the potential to re-open your breakup wounds.

The idea behind the social media detox is simple: it entails limiting social media consumption for a period reasonable to you so you can distance yourself from your ex and anything that may remind you of them.

The benefits of a social media detox

While the social media detox does help you get over your breakup faster, it actually has many other benefits under the hood that most people overlook.

1. It makes it easier to not stalk your ex

It’s no secret that indulging in your ex’s social media activity will only make you more unsettled. But despite knowing the risks, you probably still do it.

If so, don’t blame yourself. Everyone has these moments of weakness —some more than others. Even I still check my ex’s profiles from time to time. Curiosity is a bitch, I guess. But that’s okay.

We are inherently curious and nosy creatures. And for many of us, there is nothing that we are quite so inquisitive about after our breakups as the lives of our exes.

Thankfully you won’t have to worry about stalking your ex too much when you’re on a social media detox because your social media usage will be limited, perhaps even forbidden altogether.

2. It makes you stop comparing yourself to others

Social media has a seemingly toxic tendency to display only exceptional people — the rich and successful, the hot and famous, the remarkable and talented, the amazing. In your case, the most dangerous sight would be other happy couples.

Sometimes these people are actually exceptional in certain areas. Other times, they’re putting up a performance. But the result is always the same when you see them: an immediate response to compare yourselves to them.

And as a result, you probably feel as though you don’t measure up or that you’re somehow less worthy. After all, it’s not you who’s with the loving partner on that recent Instagram post. It’s someone else enjoying their relationship.

By going on a social media detox, you prevent yourself from seeing these sorts of exceptional people, which by the way, are the exceptions in society, not the norm. Hence, you don’t compare yourself as much to them and dodge unnecessary frustration and anxiety.

3. It improves your mental health

Persistent social media consumption tends to make us feel overly anxious, lonely, stressed, narcissistic, and in some cases, even depressed.

There were even studies done about how the time you spend on social media is directly related to your happiness levels. The results were unsurprising: the people who spend a large chunk of their day on social media are less happy and content than those who occasionally engage it. (1)

But it gets worse. Studies proved that social media, similar to gambling, and video games, make our brain pump excessive amounts of dopamine into our body, making us prone to getting addicted to it. (2) (3)

Do I need to go on? Most engagements with social media suck for every aspect of our mental health. So, I’m not surprised social media detoxes and attention diets have become a hot trend in the past few years.

4. It helps you overcome your fear of missing out

Fear of missing out, known as FOMO, is a form of social anxiety stemming from the belief that you’re missing out on an experience — or multiple experiences — everyone else is having and enjoying. (4)

Social media creates many opportunities for FOMO to arise since it keeps feeding you endless instances of fun and sexy activities in which you’re not participating. So every time you see a curated image or video about someone else’s life, it can leave you feeling as if your life is less exciting or even meaningful than theirs.

“This person is having the time of his life on a private beach in Ibiza with his jaw-dropping Instagram model wife, surrounded by friends and fancy cocktails. I can’t believe this. Look! He’s even getting married next week! Fuck me. And I’m here in my dingy apartment all alone watching Family Guy reruns and eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in my underwear, and missing my ex like crazy.”

Relax. The truth is, you’re always missing out on something — and you always will be. A social media detox will not only help you fend off FOMO, but it will also ground you in reality. For, you’ll grow more appreciative of the mundane and simple pleasures of life as a result of it. You know, the things that actually fucking matter.

How to perform a social media detox

Now that I got you all riled up about this social media detox thing, here’s how to do it… Err, well, at least how I do it. The thing is, my version of the social media detox is not the only one. Every other blogger and their dog has their own take on it nowadays.

Step 1: Purify your electronics of your ex

Start by unfollowing your ex on all social media platforms. When you’re done, delete their phone number, your texting/email/social media exchanges, and any photos and videos of them. Delete everything, similarly to what you’d do when using the no contact rule.

If the circumstances allow it — you’re not working with your ex, living with them, have kids with them, or want them back — block your ex entirely. Block their phone number, block their email, block them on social media. Block, block, block.

Step 2: Purify your electronics of anyone that may cause harm

Unfollow anyone you’re not particularly interested in or who may trigger you to have an ex-related memory. For example, the people who constantly post “couple’s goals” or romantic quotes on their newsfeed.

And if you’re feeling ballsy, there’s a Google Chrome plugin called Kill Newsfeed that prevents Facebook from showing their newsfeed while you’re on the platform. I encourage you to throw this nifty tool into your detox.

Step 3: Uninstall all social media apps from your phone

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik-Tok, whatever; uninstall them. At first, getting yourself to do this is really challenging, but once it’s done, you’ll realize that you never really needed those apps in the first place.

And while you’re at it, disable notifications on your phone as well. You know, those little red circles that pop up on your apps and encourage you to compulsively click on them.

While this tip may not seem like it has anything to do with getting over your ex, it has everything to do with it. Fewer notifications mean less stress. And less stress means less obsessive thoughts about your ex and urges to do stupid shit like calling them at 3 am.

Step 4. Set a time goal and prevent yourself from breaking it

Set a goal for how long you’ll keep participating in the social media detox. Me personally? I’d make the period permanent and the detox my lifestyle, but that’s ultimately up to you.

Some people do make it their lifestyle. Some people set a goal with a specified period, like two months. Other people commit to it only until they’re over their ex. Choose what works for you.

When you’ve set your goal, it’s time to maximize your odds of reaching it. How? By making tuning into social media painfully difficult. This is done through the use of specialized software and accountability buddies.

Website blockers: programs that permanently block individual websites and computer apps for a certain period you decide on. A couple of options to pick from: Cold Turkey (Mac/Windows), FocusMe (Mac), HeyFocus (Mac).

Phone blockers: like website blockers, but exclusive to smartphones. A couple of options to pick from: Screen Time (iOS), Digital Wellbeing, (other operating systems), Help Me Focus (other operating systems).

Accountability buddies: a person or people (i.e., friends, family, coworkers) that keep you accountable for reaching your social media detox goals. If you’re hardcore like me, agree on harsh consequences with your accountability buddy (or buddies) if you don’t hit your social media detox goals.

For example, whenever you contact your ex or look at their profile, you need to transfer 50$ to your accountability buddy’s bank account or donate those 50$ to a charity that you’d never support in their cause.

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Dealing with boredom

Expect to get bored frequently when you purge social media from your life. It’s inevitable. But there are things you can do to counteract the predicament.

Instead of digesting low-quality, dopamine-heavy, and shallow social media content, start digesting long-form and high-quality content found elsewhere.

This way, you’ll not only fend off your boredom — or at least some of it — but you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better, more well-rounded human being.

For instance, instead of watching an 8-minute Youtube video on existential philosophy (Ahem… a School Of Life video… Ahem), enroll in an online course on the topic, or watch an entire university lecture about it.

Another example; Instead of reading a 1000-word fluff piece from Buzzfeed, read a book or at least resort to quality long-form articles from sites like Aeon or LongForm.

One last example; instead of getting your news from platforms riddled with clickbait, fake news, and overly-subjective posts, get your news from pages like Wikipedia Current Events.

Altering The Social Media Detox

None of the steps of the social media detox are set in stone. Be flexible with them. Alter them to your liking and lifestyle. Here are a few examples of suitable social media detox alterations:

But then again, don’t be too easy on yourself. Change and recovery often entail discomfort and some degree of pain. Flexibility is no excuse to half-ass your way through a social media detox. Go hard or go home. Good luck.

If you need more more help healing from your breakup, check out my Radical Recovery Course. With over 5h of video, 200 pages of writing, and personalized 1-on-1 coaching, I'll walk you through every step of the recovery process from start to finish.

Download My Free Breakup Recovery Cheat Sheet

This free cheat sheet will help you emotionally recover from your breakup (whether you want your ex back or not) by giving you quick information about what to expect along recovery, as well as over 40 tips on how to recover faster.

Keep Reading

Download My Free Breakup Recovery Cheat Sheet

This free cheat sheet will help you emotionally recover from your breakup (whether you want your ex back or not) by giving you quick information about what to expect along recovery, as well as over 40 tips on how to recover faster.

Not Interested.

Download My Free Breakup Recovery Cheat Sheet

This free cheat sheet will help you emotionally recover from your breakup (whether you want your ex back or not) by giving you quick information about what to expect along recovery, as well as over 40 tips on how to recover faster.

Not Interested.