In the year since I quit social media, my screen time has fallen, my mood is up – even my resting heart rate is lower

May 18, 2023

A snap decision to step away has become a lifestyle shift for Philippa Moore. Though keeping up with friends can be tricky, she has no regrets. After reading one self-righteous rant too many, I made the snap decision to step away from social media. I didn’t announce it. I just disappeared. I was curious to see what might happen and, more importantly, whether it would help. As virtual dust settled on my profiles, I realised this decision had been building for some time. I didn’t know whether social media was the problem or whether I was. All I knew was something had to give.

Instead of channelling my creativity into captions, it went into my actual writing – my PhD thesis, a novel. Within a week, my screen time was down a whopping 81%. And it wasn’t just time I had regained. I felt as though I had my brain back. I had the ability to focus, to think clearly and deeply. I had more energy. I was sleeping better. I felt more creative and confident. My fear of missing out had vanished.

As the weeks passed, I noticed how much more relaxed I was, despite everything going on around me. It felt rebellious, thrilling even, to have vanished into thin air. My Fitbit reported the lowest resting heart rate I’d had in months.

Initially I decided to see if I could make it through a week. Then two. It’s now been 16 months and counting.

Every time I consider returning, the case against it is stronger. I don’t want to go back to feeling anxious, sad, inadequate or in need of external validation every time I pick up my phone. Of course I haven’t stopped feeling those things but there’s been a drastic reduction. I notice those feelings faster and, because they’re not being fed, they don’t linger as they used to.

Stepping away from social media also made me take my work more seriously. Instead of channelling my creativity into captions, it went into my actual writing – my PhD thesis, a novel. Without the ability to tab elsewhere, I stayed in my chair when I hit writer’s blocks and then pushed through them. I wrote more in 2022 than I ever have. I applied for fellowships and entered competitions, and won some. Social media, it seemed, had not been the bolstering place of inspiration I thought.

I also discovered a community of people who had done the same thing and I found great comfort knowing it wasn’t just me. Where did I find them? Good old-fashioned blogs.

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