I recently deleted most of my personal social media apps. While you can still catch me on my #bookstagram and on Twitter and TikTok, I decided to break free from social media. These apps were sucking the joy from my life, making me anxious, and forcing things that didn’t matter to take up too much room in my brain. Here’s why I deleted Facebook and my personal Instagram account, and what steps I took to ensure that the joy I did find through these apps remained in my life.


1. They lead to destructive habits.

Whenever I went out for a wild and crazy night with my friends, the fun memories were tarnished by the sent DMs I woke up to the next morning. As Maroon 5 says, “The drinks bring back all the memories.” I was constantly DMing every ex or fling whose number I had long deleted. This was not just bad for my mental health but a really shitty thing to do in general. I hated waking up and feeling guilty if last night’s feelings were gone or embarrassed if I never received a response back.


2. They kept me in touch with people I no longer needed in my life.

I don’t remember where I read or heard this, but the biggest deciding factor in social media deletion was really based on this. I saw or heard someone say that there was a time in our life when Rebecca from 10th grade history class would be someone we completely forgot existed. Where that guy we met at a party junior year would not be taking up valuable space in our brain. And I realized that while at the time adding these people on social media felt like a valuable thing, after years without seeing them in person, I no longer really cared about them. So why were they running across my brain daily every time I saw a post by them? It was taking up too much space in my brain that could be used on fostering connections with people I know at this stage of my life. Which brings me to…


3. They created a false sense of connection.

Friends and family would always ask me if I saw this post by so-and-so (who we will name Chad). I hadn’t spoken to Chad in years. I did not care about Chad. I didn’t care that his baby walked for the first time or that he bought a new house, and it’s okay that I didn’t care. Now that I’ve deleted, people tell me news about people like Chad in the way that I would have heard about it twenty years ago. I’m happy for him, but I don’t need to see these videos and photos of his life. I don’t know him and no video or photo will change that. Referring to number two, Chad and people like him were just taking up too much space in my brain that could have been saved for other things that actually impacted me.


4. They lowered my self esteem.

Seeing 15 likes on a selfie where I thought I looked hot? Heart-breaking. No one caring about the funny status that I shared? Embarrassing. That person I posted my story just for not even watching it? OOF.


5. They made me anxious.

This mostly harkens back to numbers one and four. I was anxious about how people perceived me, about the messages I sent, and about who was viewing my story or liking my posts. If an ex watched my story, I spent all day wondering if he was single again. If a bot interacted with my account, I worried it was someone toxic from my past. Overall, social media made me feel negative emotions more than positive ones.


But deleting cold turkey is hard. There are so many wonderful things we have on social media, namely memories and photos of years past. So how did I keep the good parts of social media while stepping away from the things I hated?

What next?

1. I completely deleted my accounts.

I didn’t just deactivate or remove Facebook from my phone. I deleted my personal Instagram account and kept the one related to my niche interests. I completely deleted my Facebook account and removed the app from my phone. I let a few people from my life know about other accounts I had kept around in case they wanted to send me memes or forward tweets to me, but that was it. I was done.


2. I saved and printed off hundreds of photos.

My millions of college photos were my favorite part about Facebook. Before deleting the app, I saved thousands of them and had them printed off for around $100. I then hung some photos in my apartment and kept others in a box. I plan to put some in albums and just keep others in storage for when I want to look at them. As a child, I kept all my memories this way and still pull them out to share with people who care about the photos, too. I like that I have tangible memories now that will still be around even if Facebook gets deleted off the face of the internet.


3. I began reaching out to people I care about more often.

Those false connections were completely removed from my life. Now if I want to speak to someone, I have to reach out to them directly. I get that Facebook is the way many of us keep in touch with distant family, and that’s okay if that’s what works for you. But back in the day, we would send letters to these family members or call them every now and then. I’ve started calling a few family members more and texting friends who I am not super close with but deeply care about more often.


4. I took note of who I stopped hearing from.

Some people are now completely gone from my life. It turned out I must not find them worth the “effort” of number four and vice versa. And that’s okay. These connections clearly weren’t as meaningful as we had thought and it’s time to walk away.


5. I explored other social media apps more in line with my values.

I kept social media apps where I was able to explore niche interests. I’m not saying Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter and perfect – because they are far from it. But I enjoy my time using these apps in a very specific way and they do not harm my mental health when I use them in this manner. I also started exploring other apps like BeReal, which I hope takes off more!


Have you deleted social media? What was the experience like for you? Will you ever go back?