In Dec. 2021, I did the unthinkable. I took a monthlong break from Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. I deleted them from my phone, and the only apps I had left were YouTube, Twitch, and Discord. I never thought I’d need to take this break, but it was one of the better decisions I’ve made.
I was inspired to do this by one of my favorite YouTubers, Nathan Zed. In 2018, he took a four-month break from all social media platforms, including YouTube. When he finally returned to the digital world on Jan. 14, 2019, he talked about how much better he felt being away from all the likes and algorithms.
We live in a society where social media is at the forefront of many people’s lives. Every day, people wake up and open their favorite social media apps to see what they missed on their timelines while they were asleep. But how healthy is that routine? And how healthy is the use of social media as a whole? These are the thoughts that started to come to my mind after a conversation with some of my close friends about which social media apps are the most damaging to society.
Ranking the apps
Data Overhaulers ranked the 11 worst social media apps, but my focus is just four: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
Number four is Twitter. This is personally my favorite app. The laughs I’ve had scrolling through my Twitter feed don’t compare to any other app. Twitter is great for entertainment, news, and social networking. Sharing random thoughts with your followers is something done on a whim, and it’s not taken seriously if nobody engages with your tweets.
Some issues with Twitter occur because almost anything can be posted, without restriction. People can say and share anything without much consequence. When the company bans prominent figures, such as former President Donald Trump, it sends a good message, but leaked videos and misinformation still spread like wildfire, so it can be hard to deal with all of that at once.
TikTok finds itself in the number three spot. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of TikTok when it first came out. There was no reason for me to download an app just to watch people do simple dances. But when my friends started sharing funny and creative content that users were coming up with, I had to join.
The problem with TikTok lies in its design. The algorithm is made to push content based on your likes. This leads to what I like to call the “infinite scroll problem.” The app is designed so you never stop scrolling. You might be on the app for five minutes, and the next thing you know, an hour has passed. I had to start setting a timer for myself when I used the app. It eats away at so much of your time, and you won’t even notice.
The Meta-owned apps
Numbers two and one are both Meta-owned social media platforms: Facebook and Instagram. I think Instagram is much more damaging, but it could go either way. Both apps constantly steal ideas from other platforms, whether they are Snapchat stories or scrollable videos from TikTok.
Some studies have shown a link between Facebook addiction and obsessive-compulsive traits. It wouldn’t surprise me if Instagram is the same way.
The purpose of Instagram is to show the highlights of your life. People obsess over minuscule things, such as their likes and if their crush saw their story, I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past.
Today the app is much more influencer-focused. You’ll see so many sponsored posts from influencers before you see a post from a friend or family member. YouTuber Amanda Maryanna, in a video titled, “let’s make Instagram casual again,” talks about how the app isn’t user-friendly and encourages the idea of perfection with unrealistic standards of beauty and life.
After the break
What happened after my monthlong break from social media? It felt good to be away. I thought I’d miss it much more than I did, but it was freeing to be away from the check-ins with my timeline every five minutes. I got used to not engaging with it, so now I turn on the focus option on my phone starting at night until I’m done getting ready in the morning, to avoid the constant beckoning of social media.
Without the distraction of likes and updated feeds, I’m able to speed up my morning routine, get adequate sleep at night, and give myself the much-needed break from my small screen.