Leave Twitter? What People Say About Life After Social Media

It wasn’t too long ago that people said they would run away from Instagram. Before it was Facebook.

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With every controversy on social media, people talk about shutting down their accounts for good. Few actually do. About 70% of Americans used social media in 2021, a level that has remained stable for five years, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Meta Platforms Inc.

In February, Facebook’s daily active user count fell for the first time in at least a decade, but it said Wednesday the population was growing again.

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Social media apps are designed to keep people coming back. The dopamine rush that comes from other people’s likes can give you a celebratory feeling. But there is a downside. Constant exposure to the lives of others can affect your body image, sleep, anxiety levels and productivity.

“These feelings make people wonder how much time, if any, they want to spend on social media,” said Kate Rosenblatt, senior clinical manager at Talkspace.,

an online therapy company.

Many people who quit Twitter, Facebook and Instagram say they are happier because of it, but they also realized they were missing some things. Here’s what they want others to know, both the good and the bad.

Withdrawal fades quickly.

When you are used to checking an app every day or several times a day, sometimes you mindlessly open the app and scroll through your feed.

Kimberly Katiti from North Hollywood, CA.


Photo:

Yu Peng Feng

“I was so sucked into the negative memes, clapbacks and conflict spirals I saw on Twitter that when I first left my muscle memory told me to open the app and go. start scrolling,” said Kimberly Katiti, a 28-year-old artist. in North Hollywood, Calif., who left the platform in April 2021.

“I got over it in a week,” she said. “I just want to put my phone away. And before I knew it, I didn’t feel like scrolling through and seeing what’s going on in the world.

You are always connected to the world.

Social media started as a way to connect with friends, but the platforms have evolved into places where businesses and people can share news and policies—Mr. Musk called Twitter the “de facto public square” of the world. But with this increased role came misinformation and other problems. Cutting social media out of your life may inspire you to find other sources of information. And just because you’re not on Facebook doesn’t mean you’re going to miss great cultural moments and trends.

“I got on Twitter in 2008 because it was a different, newer method of communication,” said Christopher Britton, a 34-year-old who runs a marketing business in Inlet Beach, Florida. “At the time, I was concerned that I wasn’t so-qualified as relevant. He deleted his Twitter account in 2011 and now keeps himself informed via Reddit, Apple News and other sources.

“And my Messages app is as good as any social networking site for staying in touch with people I know,” Britton said.

People are nicer.

JJ Garcia in New Braunfels, Texas.


Photo:

JJ Garcia

You don’t have to be on social media for long to encounter Facebook rants or Twitter feuds where people you know communicate differently than they do in person. When you stop seeing these posts and interact with people in real life, your perspective may change.

“It’s so much easier to post rude stuff when you’re behind a keyboard wall,” said JJ Garcia, a 54-year-old business analyst in New Braunfels, Texas. “But in person, your neighbors seem less inclined to talk about this stuff. And you can get along better with them when you don’t see all of their opinions online. »

You may have difficulty sending or giving money.

On Facebook, you can add your payment information to buy and sell items on Marketplace, send money to family on Messenger, and donate directly to causes. Quitting Facebook can make it more cumbersome, said Bobby Buchler, a 57-year-old retired high school teacher from Las Vegas who quit the social network in 2019.

“On Twitter, I follow organizations that save dogs. And they post messages saying to donate on Facebook, or they link to a message posted on Facebook,” Buchler said. “But I can’t check it easily because I don’t want to go to Facebook.”

Deleting an Instagram or Facebook account is far from simple. The WSJ’s Dalvin Brown gives some tips to consider before walking you through the steps to deactivate or delete your social media accounts. Artwork: Michael Ray

People don’t miss you or remember your birthday.

Kristen Womack was active on Facebook and Instagram, leading groups, sharing articles and operating a small business account. But when she left Facebook in 2016 and Instagram in 2020, no one seemed to notice.

Kristen Womack in Minneapolis.


Photo:

soon

“Not a single person said, ‘Oh, wow, I don’t see you on Facebook or Instagram anymore. I miss you,” said Ms. Womack, 42-year-old product manager at Microsoft Corp..

in Minneapolis. “Once you leave the party, it’s like you don’t miss.”

What about those birthday reminders and comments on your Facebook wall? Say goodbye to them. Although that’s not a bad thing.

“On Facebook on my birthday, 300 people appeared, and then you had to reply and like comments from random people,” said Verlin Campbell, a 42-year-old IT project manager in Los Angeles. “Now my interactions are more authentic. On my birthday, about 20 people texted me. I’m happier with it.

You feel more productive.

Quitting social media gives you more free time, sometimes more than you know what to do with.

“I was surprised to realize how much time I was wasting scrolling. You jump to your computer to write, and it’s easy to get distracted,” Lindsey Zitzmann told The Online Life Coach of 39 years in Villard, Minnesota, left Instagram in 2020.

“Now, in those in-between times when I have a few minutes, I read books, I’m more present with my family, or I cook without picking up my phone,” she added.

Friends move away.

Social media can make you feel like you’re connecting with people just because you double-tapped a message or because someone commented on one of your photos. Once you leave, some of those relationships fade.

“It makes me sad to think about it,” said Oliver Murray, 18, of Fayetteville, Ark. The freelance digital artist says he lost touch with friends online when he deleted his Instagram account in 2019. He now shares his works on Tumblr. and Twitter, where he doesn’t feel compelled to constantly post.

“I got pissed off with all the superficial vanity messages,” he said. “The only way for me to get back on Instagram is if Elon Musk ruins Twitter.”

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Write to Dalvin Brown at dalvin.brown@wsj.com

Twitter will go private if Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover bid is approved. The move would allow Musk to make changes to the site. The WSJ’s Dan Gallagher explains the changes Musk is proposing and the challenges he might face adopting them. Artwork: Jordan Kranse

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