How to Detox From Social Media Without Quitting Cold Turkey

It’s 9 p.m. on a Friday night, and I’m psyched because I have no plans. “Me time” starts now. My Diptyque candle is lit. Cozy cashmere sweats are on, and I’m curled up under my furry throw blanket. I cue up the latest juicy episode of Riverdale (ready to swoon over Cole Sprouse’s sultry stare) or UnReal (Shiri Appleby really knows how to bring on the crazy).

By 9:45 p.m., I realize I haven’t made it past the first 10 minutes of the show. I’ve been sucked into the social media vortex. It started out innocently enough: I just wanted to check Instagram while the credits were rolling. I saw that a work buddy went on a dreamy vacation to Rome. Oh, her friend was there, too? Let me pop over to that feed next. What an adorable baby. And this wedding hashtag is ah-mazing! Before I know it, I am deep in friends’, acquaintances’, and even strangers’ lives. I’ve spent 45 minutes watching other people rather than the show I’ve been looking forward to seeing all week.

Social media is undoubtedly addictive. In fact, experts have compared phones to slot machines. “It’s a popular addiction right now, one of the still socially acceptable ones,” says Laurie Gerber, an expert life coach of the Handel Group. “We’ve only been in the Information Age for how many years? Our brains are not adjusted to the amount of interesting input that’s possible to take in. You could spend all day on social media and not really get bored. And the smarter the programs get at giving you what they think you want, the harder it will ever be to stop.”

By now, many writers have shared the head-clearing results of deleting Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and the like from their lives. I’m sure it feels amazing to be living IRL all of the time. But what if you don’t want to quit cold turkey?

While social media can make me feel crappy at times, especially when I can’t get through a TV episode without opening it or envy someone else’s flawlessly curated life, it’s also entertaining and plain-old fun. I enjoy sharing my travel experiences and getting recommendations from other jet-setters. It’s informative to learn which beauty products and spa treatments those with glowing skin use. And who doesn’t want to know (and shop!) every piece of clothing Aimee Song has on?

If you fall into the camp who wants to reform their social media habits without deleting the whole damn thing, I’m here to let you know it’s possible. I’ve spent the past two months reforming my digital sharing usage and have found methods that actually work.

Here, I’m sharing my chat with some experts and also my own personal journey toward learning how to detox from social media without leaving the virtual world. But first, put down your phone. I need your full attention…