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3 obvious ways your life will be improved by using social media less

Many of us spend hours every day tethered to our devices, pawing at the screen to see if it will deliver a few more likes or emails, monitoring the world and honing our online presence. Social networking platforms such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are supposed to make us feel more connected. Yet our reliance on technology to “see” the social world around us can be a heavy burden.

The Pew Research Centre recently reported that about a quarter of US adults say they are “almost constantly” online. Stress, addiction, depression and anxiety seem unsurprising consequences of using social platforms often specifically designed to keep us repeating the same actions over and over again.

Even so, many would find the prospect of living offline worrisome, or simply impossible. That’s why we undertook a small study with 50 people who may seem nothing less than social outcasts in today’s screen saturated environment. None of our participants used social media or had a mobile phone, and most even refused to email.

We wanted to understand why these people had decided to switch off, and how they managed it. But rather than seeking quick fixes for overuse, we explored the principles and values that drove our participants to live the way they do. Much has already been written about how we can switch off – but that won’t achieve much, unless we really feel the benefits.

Here’s what our respondents said they’d learned, from living their social lives offline.

Spending time with others

Part of the problem with social networking platforms is that we don’t just use them for communicating – they also promote a particular way of being connected to and supportive of those around us. These interactions are channelled through the platform to create data, which is ultimately fed back to data brokers and marketers.

Our participants shared a deep belief in, and attachment to, a different way of socialising that’s focused on expression, touching, talking and being in the same space, physically. For them, this helped to maintain a feeling of human bonding and connection.

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