Yesterday, activist and writer Lindy West wrote an article for The Guardian announcing her decision to do something that many people who work in media would consider career suicide: She quit Twitter. Sick of the trolls, the negativity, the political commentary, and hate talk, she’d had enough.
Well, good for her, you might be thinking, as you favorite a tweet from a news source or influencer. But according to psychotherapist Terry LaFrazia, LCSW, you could be in desperate need of a Twitter break too (or Instagram, or Facebook…) without even realizing it.
“Part of the danger of apps is that they are so stimulating and constant that it’s hard to figure out how you’re feeling and if you need a break,” LaFrazia says. In other words: Twitter could be a major source of anxiety, angst, or depression, but because it’s so integrated into your life, you can’t pinpoint it as a cause.
Twitter could be a major source of anxiety, angst, or depression, but because it’s so integrated into your life, you can’t quite pinpoint it as a cause.
So how can you figure out if it’s slowly eroding your happiness? In a word: mindfulness. “Be aware of why you’re looking at it in the first place—it could just be out of habit!” LaFrazia says. Some questions to ask yourself: How is this serving me? What am I looking for? How is this impacting me?
LaFrazia says people are most vulnerable to having Twitter become unhealthy after something bad happens, like a breakup (or for many, the election). “If you’re not in a good head space, Twitter can feed into negative, depressing, thoughts.” Again, the whole key is taking a beat to stop and think about how something you often do without even noticing is making you feel. (By the way, LaFrazia says Instagram and Facebook can have the same effects, so check in with yourself when using those apps, too.)
Ready to cut back—or entirely? LaFrazia has some tips. First, delete it from your phone, if your job allows. “Any barrier you can put between you and the app will help,” LaFrazia says. If you start your mornings by scrolling Twitter first thing: stop. Get your news the old-fashioned way (AKA news sites). Last, take entire one-day breaks. (Even better: Give yourself some bath time while you’re at it.)
Folk Rebellion founder Jess Davis is all about digital detoxing. In fact, she leads retreats based off the idea. “I just came off a two-week hiatus from all media and feel amazing,” she says. “I am so much more aware of how I am consuming and interacting with social media and all its positives and negatives. Just this week I have managed to start my bullet journal, get to yoga each day, kill my to-do list, finish a book, and enjoy a walk with a friend…and it’s only Wednesday!” Lesson: Never underestimate the time and energy endless scrolling can take.