How to Quit Social Media Using an Anti-Social-Media Buddy

Social media is addictive, manipulative, and bad. Reclaim your high-quality life by working with an anti-social-media buddy to save the best, leave the rest, and return to your life in real life.

Stever Robbins
6-minute read
Episode #498

image of distracted social media man

Social media! I just love social media! No, I don’t. I hate social media. It’s manipulative, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels warm and fuzzy, like lying in your shmoopie’s arms, being showered with warm, golden light. You wonder how you survived before glorious social media entered your life. The answer is: better. Much better.

Social media feels great. It sucks up time that you used to waste learning a new skill, reading a book to learn about a topic, or finishing an important project. But social media feels great! It displaces reflection, contemplation, and learning, so your ideas—when you even have them—are lower quality and shallow. But social media feels great! It replaces your genuine connections with momentary exchanges with people who are no longer part of your life because they weren’t actually that important to you. But...again, social media feels great.

If you’ve been following the news, you also know that social media has manipulated us in unprecedented numbers, to feel, think, and behave in ways that we believe are our own, but are actually dictated by the forces of evil. Or at least, forces who don’t really care about you at all.

It’s time to disconnect! And today, we’ll learn how to disconnect from social media, reclaim our time, reclaim our relationships, and reclaim our own decisions.

Step 1: Acknowledge the Problem

Do you get a secret little thrill when you see lots of “Likes” on a post that you posted? Me too!

And yet, they don’t mean anything. They don’t mean people like you. They don’t mean you’re smart and clever. They’re just a number in a computer. For all you know, the social media site claims you have likes when actually no one clicked the button. That little thrill means you’re being successfully manipulated.

Do you feel all warm and fuzzy (and maybe a bit soggy) when you see that little icon of the person you were friends with ten years ago? And you exchange a few sentences here and there on Facebook and think, “Wow! We’re still so close! We’ve reconnected!” Me too!

And yet again, that doesn’t mean anything. You didn’t care enough about them to keep in touch. They didn’t care enough about you. Your social media back-and-forth gives you the illusion of a relationship, that’s all. It’s just your memory of them, occasionally triggered by Facebook showing you their picture and name. That warm, fuzzy feeling means you’re being successfully manipulated.

Do you find that your newsfeed is full of fascinating, interesting articles that you just have to click on and read? Me too!

What that means is your attention is being directed at the topics Facebook and Twitter want you to look at. No matter how interesting those topics are, you aren’t the one choosing them. That feeling of worldly education means you’re being successfully manipulated.

If you get a lot of good feelings from social media, you’re probably one of the ones who’s been successfully brainwashed. I know that’s true of me. And remember that being successfully manipulated feels like free will. That’s why it’s successful manipulation. If they weren’t doing such a good job of it, it wouldn’t feel good. 

Step 2: Find an Anti-Social Media Buddy

Now that you know your emotions, relationships, and thoughts are no longer your own, you need to find someone to help you reclaim your soul. Remember that high school friend whose picture on Facebook makes you feel so deeply loved and valued, even though you haven’t exchanged more than cat pictures since graduation?

Call them and ask them to be your anti-social media buddy. If they say “Yes,” you’re on your way. If they say “No,” they just proved they were never worth reconnecting with in the first place. Unfriend them. Block them. And move on to the next person whose icon makes you feel deeply, deeply loved and valued.

Step 3: Choose 50 People to Keep in Touch With

We might be so deeply brainwashed that we actually believe that leaving social media is leaving our friends. I call shenanigans. We have more cheap communications technology than ever in human history. If someone doesn’t warrant the effort of a phone call or email, they aren’t important enough to keep you on a soul-sucking, emotion-sucking, brain-sucking social media platform.

Heroin feels good. So does social media.

Look through your social media direct messages, your timelines, and lastly, your friends lists. Choose 50 people you’ll keep in touch with, and record their names and contact information separately. If 50 sounds like too many, then you know you were brainwashed and are now recovering. Because the illusion that you were keeping in touch with hundreds or thousands was definitely just an illusion. If you can’t keep in touch with 50 people off social media, then you’re definitely not keeping any real relationships with your 600 friends on social media.

If 50 sounds like too few, choose 50, and devote more time to them than you otherwise would have. You might discover that more time leads to more depth, which leads to more satisfying friendships, so you don’t need as many in the first place.

Step 4: Change Passwords

Now it’s time for the big step: swap passwords with your accountabilibuddy and change each other’s passwords. If you’re feeling super-super-resolved, delete each others’ accounts.

Breathe a huge sigh of relief. You’re on your way to recovery.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.