Between a recent career change and a vacation with only very limited Wi-Fi, I’ve had more time to think lately about my relationship with the internet, especially social media. I can easily waste HOURS (literally hours) just scrolling through Instagram and I know I’m not the only one. I often find myself putting my phone down just to pick it back up and open the same exact apps that I just closed. None of this is productive or inspiring and this realization has made me kick off a social media purge. I’m starting with Instagram first, but will likely expand from there.
What’s a social media purge?
According to Oxford Languages, to purge is to rid (someone or something) of an unwanted quality, condition, or feeling. So, essentially with a social media purge, you’re removing unwanted content from your feed or profile. (If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could even delete your own account… but I’m not there yet.) This could be unfollowing/unfriending certain people. This could be muting certain words and hashtags. This could be removing toxic people who follow you.
So, why do one?
For me, it’s about (hopefully!) being more productive. But there’s something else to keep in mind as well: the people you follow have the power to influence your thoughts and mood. It also makes me think of an idea from Atomic Habits by James Clear:
“The key—if you want to build habits that last—is to join a group where the desired behavior is the normal behavior.”
It makes me wonder if the opposite is true too. Can you also pick up bad habits, ideas, and thought processes from others? Something to consider…
My social media purge strategy
I’m starting my social media purge with Instagram and I’ve already cut the number of people I follow in HALF. When it came to who made the cut and who didn’t, here’s what I kept in mind:
- Has this account posted in the past year? If the idea of cutting the number of people you follow scares you or seems heartless, this is a great starting point. You can’t miss an account that never posts and you’re free to adjust the time period to whatever you want- the past 6 months, two weeks, etc.
- Does this account post content that makes me feel good? When you look at the Instagram feed, what emotions do you feel? Are you jealous of someone’s apparently perfect life? Do you find yourself feeling guilty for not having the same intense workout routine? If you find yourself feeling these kinds of negative emotions, it’s time to cut the account from your feed. It’s your feed and it should include posts that make you feel connected, included, and inspired.
- Does this account only exist to sell me something? This could be a kind of controversial strategy, but I find this helps me spend less money and save more. I unfollowed all store accounts (I’ll miss you HomeGoods!) and unfollowed the accounts of individuals that ONLY post sales content. I have no problem with people posting sponsored content and making $$, but if that’s the only thing they’re posting… then it’s time to go.
If you’re still unsure if an account should stay or go, you could try muting them for a few weeks. If you didn’t even notice the account is gone, cut it.
My results from doing a social media purge
By keeping the above strategies in mind, I was able to seriously clear out my Instagram feed!
This has been a game-changer, as I’m actually seeing content that I enjoy AND I’ve cut down the number of posts on my feed each day. Now, when I find myself mindlessly scrolling, Instagram lets me know when there are no new posts to view. This immediately makes me close the app and do something else. Yay!
Have any tips or tricks to shake-up your social media use? Please share in the comments below!