On Being Unsocial: Why I Deleted Twitter and Facebook from My Phone

On Being Unsocial Blog Header

I’d had it. For the umpteenth time, I found myself having spent over 40 minutes scrolling through the neverending timeline that is Twitter — and getting angry and worked up. Not over the Big Things, mind you that I could get being worked up about. It was me getting worked up because of petty little things that people were saying, trying to get people worked up and angry. And it was working.

I looked up at the time. I’d wasted nearly 30 minutes of my writing time lost in an argument about … well, I can’t now even recall what it was about! Probably someone being a right idiot to someone else.

It’s not me; it’s you. No. Maybe it’s both of us.

There and then I decided to take a break from Twitter. A few weeks, maybe? I pondered. Of course, it wouldn’t be me cutting the media off completely as it makes up part of my work, but I decided that I would stay clear of my timeline. I deleted the app off my phone. (There are too many books on my tablet to fit the app on there, go figure.) Then I glared at Facebook. Another endless stream I far too often get lost in. And another one that is quite negative sometimes. I deleted it as well and decided to only keep Instagram. Instagram is still a happy place for me.

My mails I kept on my phone as well, but after I got about thirty payday specials emails and about 20 other newsletters in the space of about 3 hours, I started seriously unsubscribing. Ok, it was Monday morning, which is normally a very busy email time, but still. Most of them I’d not even signed up for, or had never read since signing up — I’d just been too lazy to unsubscribe. (Yes, I know. It was bad.)

I sighed a sigh of relief. See, I have a separate mail for Newsletters n Stuff, but the emails which came once a week or month has slowly but surely encroached until they became once a day or even a few times a day.

Marketing tip: The same company selling me the same thing every day by sending five emails is overdoing it.

Anyway, so I unsubscribe from a bunch of things and delight in seeing no emails entering my inbox for 3 hours. Apparently I had killed the most prolific email-sending-sinners. 

Detox Mode Initiated

On the first day, I kept on checking my phone to see if I had alerts or new emails. And then it hit me how many times I actually look at my phone during the day. I place it under a bunch of papers on my desk (I’m still at least half old school in that way) and continue with my work.

It took a few days for me not to want to check my phone the whole time. I was so used to filling “open moments” with scrolling through Twitter, that I really felt like I was missing out on something. And yet, I was still reading the news, so I didn’t miss the awful tragedies of the past two weeks (planes crashing, mass shootings, etc.) by much time. I just didn’t get my news via the flurry of messages and trolls on Twitter. And it felt awesome.

I will return to Twitter, but I hope I do not get to a point again where I read it for an hour when I could be doing something else — or should be doing something else. Anyway, I use it for work, so I don’t have much choice in the matter! What I know I do have a choice over, is how much time I spend on it.


Perhaps that is also why mindfulness is getting so much traction — we are finding more and more that we need to not just sit and scroll mindlessly and bored but actually be present for the social media we are using. Strangely enough, I also spent less time on Instagram when I started to use Twitter and Facebook less, without even trying to.

And what, you may ask, did I do with my freed-up time? I read. Actual books, don’t you know.

It wasn’t quite a digital detox, but it was something that I needed to do. And, come to think of it, I don’t think I want to put Twitter back on my phone just yet…

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

1 comment

  1. I hear you! Facebook and Twitter really are never-ending. I sit down to “just check” Facebook and next thing you know, my whole evening is shot… I only dipped my foot into Twitter and then realized what a time-sink it would be for me, and got out before drowning. Now I have Leechblock set on all my computers to limit my Facebook time, which I’m embarrassed to say really helps. (Embarrassed because come on, I’m an adult, can’t I limit it myself? sigh.) I turned off all the notifications on my phone except for calls and text messages, and that helps too.

    Good luck with your detox!


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