Jomo | The Benefits of Leaving Social Media? (2024)

Everyone you know is on social media these days.

In fact, it’s impossible to go anywhere and not see someone glued to their smartphones or scrolling social media. You use it to entertain yourself, connect with friends, get news, and even for work purposes. Life feels incomplete without it.

Is it possible to live and thrive without it?

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Enter Cal Newport, best-selling author and computer science professor at Georgetown University, who has never had a social media account. Not a single one. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram.

You might expect someone like him to struggle today, especially in academia and publishing where being online is often seen as essential. Yet, Newport's experience tells a different story. He's achieved tenure at a prestigious university, published multiple bestselling books, and become a respected voice in productivity and technology ethics - all without ever posting a status update or sharing a single tweet.

His story isn't just about his personal choice; it shows you how you don’t need social media to succeed, despite what John from high school might tell you.

In this article, we'll explore the benefits of leaving social media, and how you can quit this habit.

The problem with social media

Do you want to know why so many people struggle with excessive social media use?

It’s not because they lack willpower or self-control. And it’s also not because there’s something inherently wrong with them. The real reason? Social media platforms are designed to be addictive.

In fact, this is their business model. Their revenue depends on keeping users engaged for as long as possible. The more time you spend with them, the more money they make.

This is why platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook spend millions of dollars to craft sophisticated algorithms to keep us scrolling for the latest memes and viral Shorts videos.

And while we do that, they collect data about our behavior, preferences, and interactions to give us content that’s most likely to keep us engaged. They also use psychological tricks like intermittent rewards (which you see in slot machines) to keep us coming back for more.

This data is then used to send us targeted advertisem*nts, and they make money in the process. This cycle of engagement, data collection, and advertising keeps us hooked, at the expense of our time, attention, and well-being

The benefits of leaving social media

Did you know that limiting social media use to 30 minutes per day significantly improves your well-being?

That is according to a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. In this study, Dr. Melissa Hunt and her colleagues took 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania and randomly assigned them to two groups. The first group was to limit Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat use to 10 minutes per platform per day. The control group, on the other hand, used social media as usual for three weeks.

The results were striking. Participants who limited their social media use showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression compared to the control group. But the interesting part? Both groups showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out over baseline, which suggests that there is a benefit to increased self-monitoring.

Beyond mental health benefits, leaving social media can also lead to:

🤝 Stronger relationships

Ironically, stepping away from social media can lead to stronger and more meaningful relationships. When you’re hard to reach, people tend to value their interactions with you more. Real life face-to-face conversations become more commonplace, meaningful, and you're more likely to be present in the moment. You'll find yourself engaging in deeper, more authentic connections with friends and family.

But doesn’t social media help you interact with more people?

That’s true to some extent, but the quality of these interactions aren’t as good. Social media encourages shallow, surface-level connections with a large number of people, rather than fostering deep, meaningful relationships with a select few.

Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT and author of "Reclaiming Conversation," on the other hand, emphasizes the importance of real-world interactions: “Face-to-face conversation is the most human — and humanizing — thing we do. … It’s where we develop the capacity for empathy. It’s where we experience the joy of being heard, of being understood.”

Put simply, interactions over a glass screen can’t compare to face-to-face interactions.

⏳ Control over your time and attention

One of the most significant benefits of leaving social media is the ability to reclaim your time and attention, two of your most valuable resources. As mentioned earlier, social media platforms are designed to steal this from you. By stepping away, you reject the attention economy and regain control over how you spend your time.

Leaving social media can create space for activities that truly matter to you, whether it's pursuing hobbies, learning new skills, or spending quality time with loved ones. You'll also find yourself more productive and less distracted, able to engage in deep work and achieve your goals more efficiently.

| People often ask me what they can do to be more successful. I say disconnect. Even if just for a few hours. Unplug. Turn off your phone and Wi-Fi. Focus. Write. Practice. Create. That’s what’s rare and valuable these days. — Derek Sivers

How to reduce social media use (or leave it completely!)

The truth is, you don’t need to use social media.

Need to stay connected with friends and family? Schedule regular phone calls, videochats, or in-person meetups.

Want to network professionally? Attend industry events, join professional organizations, or use LinkedIn sparingly.

Worried about missing news? Subscribe to quality news outlets or curated newsletters.

No matter what you use social media for, there's usually a more meaningful way to achieve the same goal.

Take it from Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism:

“Assume, for example, that your Twitter habit effectively consumes ten hours per week. Thoreau would note that this cost is almost certainly way too high for the limited benefits it returns. If you value new connections and exposure to interesting ideas, he might argue, why not adopt a habit of attending an interesting talk or event every month, and forcing yourself to chat with at least three people while there? This would produce similar types of value but consume only a few hours of your life per month, leaving you with an extra thirty-seven hours to dedicate to other meaningful pursuits.”

With that in mind, here are some practical steps to reduce your social media use (or leave for good!):

❌ Delete social media apps from your phone

In 2012, Facebook’s shift to mobile advertising marked a significant turning point in the company’s revenue strategy. By 2017, mobile ads accounted for 88% of their revenue.

This shows how effective the mobile version of social platforms are at capturing our attention and keeping us engaged, compared to web browsing on your laptop or PC.

Hence, to protect your time and attention, consider removing social media apps from your phone. You can still access these platforms on your computer if you need to. However, this approach creates a barrier to mindless scrolling and helps you be more intentional about your social media use.

🫶 Ask your friends to help you out

One of my favorite ways to reduce social media use comes from James Clear.

In Atomic Habits, he wrote:

Every Monday, my assistant would reset the passwords on all my social media accounts, which logged me out on each device. All week I worked without distraction. On Friday, she would send me the new passwords. I had the entire weekend to enjoy what social media had to offer until Monday morning when she would do it again. (If you don’t have an assistant, team up with a friend or family member and reset each other’s passwords each week.)

One of the biggest surprises was how quickly I adapted. Within the first week of locking myself out of social media, I realized that I didn’t need to check it nearly as often as I had been, and I certainly didn’t need it each day. It had simply been so easy that it had become the default. Once my bad habit became impossible, I discovered that I did actually have the motivation to work on more meaningful tasks. After I removed the mental candy from my environment, it became much easier to eat the healthy stuff.

This approach not only reduces your social media use but also helps you build a support system. And by involving others, you create accountability, increasing your chances of success.

⏰ Block time for social media

If you’re not ready to completely cut off social media, a mindful alternative is to schedule social media time into your calendar.

This method allows you to maintain some online presence while preventing it from distracting you. For example, you might decide to check social media only during your lunch break or for 30 minutes after dinner, and make it a rule to not check it at other times. (We recommend checking social media later during the day)

By setting specific times for social media use, you create boundaries that help you stay focused on other tasks throughout the day. This approach also encourages more intentional and mindful engagement with social platforms when you do use them, instead of the mindful scrolling we often resort to whenever we get bored.

| To free yourself, to be more authentic, to be less addicted, to be less manipulated, to be less paranoid… for all these marvelous reasons, delete your accounts. — Jaron Lanier

Let Jomo help you!

As we've explored, it’s clear that leaving social media is beneficial. However, making this change isn’t always easy. The addictive nature of these platforms makes it challenging to go through the strategies we’ve discussed.

That's where we can help. We built Jomo so that you can be more mindful with how you spend your time on social media.

One way to do this is our “Conscious Use” template, which blocks your social media apps by default. You can only unlock them by asking for a break, and this gives you a moment to pause and reflect on whether you really want to use these apps.

Here’s how you can set it up:

1️⃣ Download Jomo.

2️⃣ Go to Rules > Sessions > Templates > Conscious Use.

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3️⃣ Select the social media apps you want to block in “Apps & Websites”

4️⃣ Toggle "Breaks" and choose "Intention." This way, you’ll have to write your intention to take a break from your social media block. You can also pick the number of breaks per day and the maximum duration of breaks.

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5️⃣ Click on "Schedule."

If you want to use social media, you can click “Snooze” on the session or open a blocked app and click “Unlock.”

As exemplified by Cal Newport, a life with less social media isn't just possible—it can be incredibly fulfilling and successful. Ready to start? Try deleting apps, scheduling usage times, or using tools like Jomo for more intentional social media use.

Jomo | The Benefits of Leaving Social Media? (2024)


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