This is what I learned when I quit social media

Jan 08, 2020

October 2019. I realized that my productivity was being deeply affected by social media. Don't get me wrong: I work in digital marketing, and I recognize the importance of social media. It's a useful and a crucial piece of our present. Social media allows a connection that few other platforms provide today.

I also know that when we get sucked in by technology, it's mostly our responsibility. We control the usage and the relationship that we have with social media and technology. And even though I wasn't the most active person on social media, I was being sucked by a spiral of voyeurism that was making me a robot. I was suffering the most significant effect of social media: an automatism of my thoughts and my actions.

My thoughts and actions controlled by social media

A significant benefit of social media for  digital entrepreneurs is that it allows instantaneous, valuable feedback. It tells us what our audience's needs and problems are.

But my thoughts, and the content I produced, started to be deeply influenced by comments on pages belonging to people who held similar jobs to mine. And solving problems is not synonymous with looking, constantly, for what people say they need. By relying solely on the direction of others, we eventually move away from what we really want to do.

Financial sustainability justifies the use of social media

After one year as a freelancer, I created Nomadismo Digital Portugal because I wanted to tell everyone that it's possible to work remotely, be happy, and have a real career.

I wanted to tell freelancers how I did it, what I learned, what I created, and everything I could share, I shared.  The project began to grow, and I was feeling great about that. But the balance between achieving financial sustainability with the project and the desire to help started to get messed up.

I knew (and I still know) that I could make money with the project: and I started to "do everything" to get more money with it.

More money = more responsibility

I started to receive more and more messages that I didn't have time to answer.

I was mentioning the products I was selling all the time, instead of providing people real help and advice. The more online courses and ebooks I was selling, the more tired I was. I needed to create more content, more online courses, more videos, more everything.

I reached the point where the tiredness wasn't just due to the time I was investing in content creation. It was because I no longer saw myself reflected in what I was doing.

The influence of the world on what you do

I was consuming a lot of what others were producing and creating. I knew the names of all Portuguese entrepreneurs who were creating digital services and products. I was reading comments from other digital product launch posts to structure my own releases. And I  was organizing live sessions and stories sequences and posting almost daily on Instagram.

After several days with a constant headache and without knowing what digital product I needed to launch after my online course, I realized: I didn't start this to be tired. I started this to be happy and to help my audience find professional fulfillment.

I want people to choose my products because they know they are the ones that will allow them to get where they want. I don't want them to buy my products and services because my Instagram stories are the most beautiful. I don't want to apply marketing techniques to make them buy my products.

I took a few days to analyze everything I have done in the last four years as a remote worker. My differential was never social media. I decided to uninstall all the distractions that were blocking my decisions. I deleted Instagram, Facebook, and even Pinterest from my phone.

For a few days, I was still entering on Instagram through the Facebook Creative Studio to see the comments on my posts. I found myself opening Instagram through the browser, but luckily, the browser experience is not as addictive as on the phone.

After a few days, I got bored. I wasn't interested in checking my social media. I just wanted to write; I just wanted to learn. I was free of direct influences  —  I was finally reading and investing time on what I really needed and wanted.

How to know what people want and need?

This decision made me write what I genuinely think I need to say. Since I have no market analysis or strategy behind my writing… how do I know this is what my audience wants and needs?   I don't.

I don't know. But I believe that if I started the project in 2016 writing what I wanted to share and it turned okay, I think this time it will be okay too.

Am I going to use Instagram again? Probably yes. I will not delete my personal account or my business account. I will continue to login to see or share something If I want.

But for now, I know I want to enjoy the full independence of my actions and my thoughts. For now, I’m saying to social media a "see you later," and a "welcome back" to my writing.

Krystel Leal

Krystel is a freelance digital entrepreneur and digital marketing consultant who specializes in remote work.