If you’ve spent any time on social media at all, then you’ll know how addictive it can be. Posting and waiting for the likes and followers to roll in can be incredibly rewarding, especially if it’s content you’ve poured your heart and soul into. Watching as people come to appreciate what you’ve created and understand what you were trying to achieve is a feeling only social media influencers, creators, and artists will fully understand, and it can be a real dopamine hit if you’re struggling with mental health as well.
Despite this, sometimes it’s time to step away from the rigours of social media and take a break. There are times when you’ll know exactly when you should get off your social media platforms and do something else with your time for a while, but it can be hard to break habits, especially if you associate them with downtime or relaxing. It’s important to keep an eye out for tell-tale signs that you’re suffering from social media burnout so that you can take appropriate action. Here are some of the signs it’s time to take a break from social media.
When social media becomes muscle memory rather than active engagement, that’s a good sign it’s time to walk away. This behaviour also includes the issue of doomscrolling, wherein you scroll for hours reading bad news story after bad news story until you’ve convinced yourself the world is going to end. You don’t need us to tell you that this is not healthy for you, so if you find yourself opening up Facebook or Twitter and scrolling endlessly without knowing when to stop, that’s a strong indication that you need to close the apps and find something else to do for a while.
You’re struggling to separate fact from fiction
If you spend enough time on social media, then you’ll know that a huge number of people lie about their lives or embellish their accomplishments to look more desirable. This is an endemic problem on social media; thanks to the proliferation of filters and the inherent ways in which we can misrepresent ourselves on apps like Instagram and TikTok, it’s easy to pretend to be someone we’re not. If you’re finding that you’re growing more and more jealous as you scroll through your friends’ feeds, convinced that they’re living better and more fulfilling lives than you, it’s time to put social media away for a while, because truth and fiction have become muddled in your mind.
You get upset if you can’t access social media
We all have moments where we’re unable to get to our devices to check our feeds or notifications. Whether you find yourself in a place with no reception or your battery dies before you can get to a charger, you’ll likely find yourself without social media access at some point. Your reaction to this is a good determinant of whether it’s time to take a break or not. If you take it in your stride and manage to find something else to do, then you’re probably fine. If, however, you find yourself upset and anxious that you could be missing out on something important, then social media probably has too much of a hold on you and stepping away will be good for your mental health.
You’re going through the motions
Have you developed a sort of muscle reflex when it comes to liking, sharing, and commenting on other users’ social media content? If so, that’s a good indication that it’s time for a social media detox. You should be thinking carefully about the content you engage with; if you’re mindlessly commenting and liking things, then you could be falling into traps set by those who spread misinformation or propaganda. Passively reacting to things on social media in this way is another good sign that it’s time to walk away; just like idle-scrolling, you’re making social media a part of your daily life rather than actively choosing to be involved with it, which could indicate a problem with your usage habits.
You dislike your real life friends’ social media presences
It’s totally normal to think that someone you like in real life is a little annoying on social media. After all, they may share things on Facebook or Twitter that they don’t talk about in person, so you might be seeing a different side to their personality. However, if you’re finding yourself constantly criticising and getting annoyed by your friends’ posts and tweets, then you should probably walk away from social media. It’s not worth endangering real-life friendships so that you can keep scrolling through your feed; try to reconnect with people on a personal basis rather than judging them solely by what you see on screen.
You post literally everything on your feed
It’s an old cliche that young people experience everything through a camera lens rather than immersing themselves in the moment, but there is a grain of truth to that notion. If you find yourself reaching for your phone to tweet or TikTok everything that’s happening in your life without actually experiencing it firsthand for yourself, then you should probably leave social media alone for a while. By all means, post your happy memories and great times on social media; that’s what it’s there for, after all. However, if you’re reflexively doing so before you’ve even started experiencing the event itself, then you’re prioritising the social media reach of your life over the actual experiential value of it.