I am not a huge fan of social media. I am not saying that the people who have the least to say are the ones who say the most on social media, but it could feel like that. In any case, it is (too?) easy to use social media and I do whatever I can to not let it take up too much of my time.
Here, I provide a brief list with the five primary ways in which I try to limit my use of social media.
- I don’t sign up for new services. Over the years, you have seen new social media platforms, such as TikTok and Mastodon. The best way to make sure you do not use social media a lot is to not sign up for any additional services. While I created a Mastodon account five years ago, I am not using it (and I have no plans of using it). When a lot of people started looking for a Twitter alternative, I decided to stick to Twitter. If Twitter is failing, why would I need to find an alternative? I think I would see it as an opportunity to use social media less. Not that I don’t like Twitter, but I doubt I would need an alternative.
- I limit the power of algorithms. Social media sites use algorithms to make sure spend as much time as possible scrolling through new content. Accordingly, I try to limit the influence of said algorithms. When I use Twitter, I see everything in a chronological order (using TweetDeck). This also makes it is easy for me to catch up on Twitter and not spend several hours scrolling through various tweets recommended by Twitter. In addition, I also try to turn some social media content into non-social media content. One good way to do that is via RSS (this year I switched from Feedly to NetNewsWire). There are many good reasons to use RSS for (social media) content. For example, as described in this post: “I enjoyed the freedom to see sources as I wanted, the flexibility to move to a new reader if I wanted, the complete lack of advertising.” (see also this post on reasons related to privacy and efficiency).
- I make my accounts private. All my social media accounts are private. I don’t mind strangers reaching ou, even on Twitter, but I find it better for my time (and my mental health) to not engage in public discussions on social media. I have tried a few times to get a lot of retweets and a lot of replies, and I don’t like it. It takes up too much time to monitor and introduces a lot of noise in my feed. In other words, I like peace and structure on social media where I can, within a few minutes, check up on new tweets and move on.
- I unfollow as many as possible. I don’t follow a lot of people on Twitter. I don’t subscribe to any users on YouTube. I have unfollowed everybody on Facebook (i.e., when I go to Facebook the feed is completely empty). I have not yet done anything at LinkedIn as the signal-to-noise ratio is ridiculously crazy (with a lot of noise), but maybe I should. (That being said, I am on LinkedIn and you are more than welcome to connect.) Alternatively, I could delete some of my accounts altogether, and I have thought about it, but I am not against social media – I just want to limit my use.
- I don’t use social media on my phone. This one is easy. The best way for me to use social media less, is to limit the number of devices where I can use social media. I don’t have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or anything on my phone, and I believe that is working well. However, I do use WhatsApp, Signal and Messenger, but I don’t use them as ‘social media’.
These are not recommendations. You might use social media too much or too little. I couldn’t care less. You do you. However, feel free to use any of the above as inspiration if you would like to limit the amount of time you spend on social media (I know a lot of people on Twitter are thinking along those lines due to recent … events).