Quitting Twitter? What People Say About Life After Social Media
Not too long ago, people said they would flee Instagram. Before that, it was Facebook.
With every social-media controversy, people talk about shutting down their accounts forever. Few actually do it. Roughly 70% of Americans used social media in 2021, a level that remained steady for five years, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Meta Platforms Inc. in February reported Facebook’s daily active users fell for the first time in at least a decade, but it said Wednesday that population was growing again.
Social-media apps are crafted to keep people coming back. The dopamine rush that comes from other people’s likes can leave you feeling celebratory. But there is a downside. The constant exposure to other people’s lives can hurt your body image, sleep, anxiety levels and productivity.
“Those feelings drive people to consider how much time, if any, they want to spend on social media,” said Kate Rosenblatt, senior clinical manager at Talkspace, an online therapy company.
Many people who have left Twitter, Facebook and Instagram say they are happier because of it, but they also realized they miss some things. Here is what they want others to know—both the good and the bad.
Withdrawal fades quickly.
When you’re used to checking an app every day, or multiple times a day, you sometimes mindlessly open the app and scroll through your feed.
“I was so sucked into the negative memes, clapbacks and spirals of conflict I saw on Twitter that when I first left, my muscle memory told me to open the app and start scrolling,” said Kimberly Katiti, a 28-year-old artist in North Hollywood, Calif., who quit the platform in April 2021.
“I got over that within a week,” she said. “I would just put my phone away. And before I knew it, I wasn’t getting the urge to scroll and see what’s happening in the world.”
You’re still connected to the world.
Social media started as a way to connect with friends, but the platforms evolved to become places for companies and people to share news and politics—Mr. Musk called Twitter the world’s “de facto town square.” But with that increased role came misinformation and other issues. Cutting social media out of your life may nudge you to find other sources for news. And just because you’re not on Facebook doesn’t mean you’ll miss big cultural moments and trends.
“I got on Twitter in 2008 because it was a different and newer communication method,” said Christopher Britton, a 34-year-old who runs a marketing business in Inlet Beach, Fla. “At the time, I worried about not being so-called relevant.” He deleted his Twitter account in 2011, and now keeps informed via Reddit, Apple News and other sources.
“And my Messages app is just as good as any social-networking site when keeping in contact with people I know,” Mr. Britton said.
People are nicer.
You don’t have to be on social media for long to encounter Facebook rants or Twitter feuds where people you know communicate differently than they do in person. When you no longer see those posts and instead interact with people in real life, your views can change.
“It’s so much easier to post rude stuff when you’re behind a keyboard wall,” said J.J. Garcia, a 54-year-old business analyst in New Braunfels, Texas. “But in person, your neighbors seem less inclined to talk about that stuff. And you can get along with them better when you’re not seeing all their opinions online.”
You might have trouble sending or donating money.
On Facebook, you can add your payment information to buy and sell items on Marketplace, send money to family on Messenger and donate directly to causes. Leaving Facebook can make that more cumbersome, said Bobby Buchler, a 57-year-old retired high-school teacher from Las Vegas who ditched the social network in 2019.
“On Twitter, I follow organizations that rescue dogs. And they make posts saying to donate on Facebook, or they link to a post made on Facebook,” Mr. Buchler said. “But I can’t easily check it because I don’t want to go on Facebook.”
People don’t miss you—or remember your birthday.
Kristen Womack was active on Facebook and Instagram, running groups, sharing articles and operating a small-business account. But when she left Facebook in 2016 and Instagram in 2020, no one seemed to notice.
“Not one single person said, ‘Oh, wow, I don’t see you on Facebook or Instagram anymore. I miss you,’” said Ms. Womack, a 42-year-old product manager at Microsoft Corp. in Minneapolis. “Once you leave the party, it’s like you’re not missed.”
And those birthday reminders and comments on your Facebook wall? Say goodbye to them. Though doing so may not be a bad thing.
“On Facebook on my birthday, 300 people would pop up, and then you have to respond and like comments from random people,” said Verlin Campbell, a 42-year-old IT project manager in Los Angeles. “Now my interactions are more genuine. On my birthday, like 20 people texted me. I’m happier with that.”
You feel more productive.
Leaving social media gives you more free time—sometimes more than you know what to do with.
“I was surprised to realize just how much time I wasted on scrolling. You hop on your computer to write, and it’s easy to get sidetracked,” said Lindsey Zitzmann. The 39-year-old online life coach in Villard, Minn., quit Instagram in 2020.
“Now, in those in-between times when I have a few minutes, I read books, I’m more present with family, or I’ll cook without picking up my phone,” she added.
Friends drift away.
Social media can make you feel like you’re in touch with people just because you double-tapped a post, or because someone commented on one of your photos. Once you leave, some of those relationships fade.
“It makes me sad to think about it,” said Oliver Murray, 18, of Fayetteville, Ark. The freelance digital artist says he lost contact with some online friends when he deleted his Instagram account in 2019. He now shares his artwork on Tumblr and Twitter, where he doesn’t feel pressure to post constantly.
“I got annoyed with all the superficial vanity posts,” he said. “The only way I’ll go back to Instagram is if Elon Musk ruins Twitter.”