Most of us who were born in the 1990s remember when social media became popular in the mid-noughties. While my social media career (career?! lol) started on MySpace and Hi5 (Yes, I know, call me old), Facebook was the one I embraced BIG TIME.
Getting started on social media
When I created a Facebook account (in 2008), I was about to graduate from high school and was looking for something that would help me stay in touch with my former classmates. And it surely did the job! I not only stayed in touch with friends established across the globe but also grew closer to what was happening all over the world.
I was so fascinated by it all that I couldn’t spend more than a few hours away from that social networking site. My MA dissertation was even about a Facebook account and it is that research project that fostered my choice to embark on a PhD degree. That fascination (and dare I say, addiction) lasted over 8 years, then I became overwhelmed by it all.
It started making me anxious, nervous, and sometimes sad. Then something clicked and I asked myself: “Do you have to go through this”?! After all, that MA research project about that Facebook account was completed (in September 2015) so the answer was no, and in November 2017, I took a Facebook break. I haven’t been back since.
I should probably mention that I started using Twitter in 2008 as well and it has been for many years now the social media platform I use the most. I must admit though, that I am more and more feeling like I should probably take a Twitter break as well and already asked myself the same question.
The answer to that one is: not just yet. The truth is, my PhD research project is about a Twitter account so I can only take a break when/if I am awarded a PhD degree. But that hiatus will definitely occur.
Realising social media isn’t always a great place
When I started my PhD degree, my plan was also to conduct that research on the Instagram version of that social media account. I, therefore, started using Instagram in late 2018 but eventually decided not to research that social media account on it. I nonetheless kept using it up until last month when it started making me anxious, nervous and sad at times. I knew the time had come to take an Instagram break. I don’t know when I’ll be back or if I’ll ever be back on there but it doesn’t matter.
What mattered was how these social media platforms I took breaks from affected my mental well-being and how useful the said platforms were to me. Spending hours reading people being mean to one another, being overwhelmingly bombarded with all sorts of content, or simply being too distracted by them all made me take these breaks.
It’s Ok to take a social media break if you feel overwhelmed. It’s Ok to have the need to step back from things to recharge and feel better. You can always come back whenever you feel like it, or not. It’s all good. That decision is yours to take.