How to live without social media accounts

Life can be less stressful once you learn how to live without social media accounts and re-embrace traditional technologies

Wednesday, 8 May, 2024

As social media enters the decline stage of its life cycle, there is an increasingly persuasive argument that its negatives outweigh the positives.

For every crowdfunded charity campaign, there are several examples of cancel culture or mindless trolling. For every friendship gained online, more are likely to be lost through increasingly polarised differences of opinion.

Since its takeover and subsequent rebranding, Twitter (now X) has become a cesspit of disinformation, while Facebook is awash with fake news, fake profiles and deepfakes.

There is growing public awareness of how social media algorithms trap people in loops of confirmation bias, alongside increasing anger about data harvesting and targeted advertising.

More and more people are choosing to live without social media, enjoying the benefits of improved sleep and concentration, reduced anxiety and more free time.

Disengaging from social media accounts might seem tricky when certain aspects of day-to-day life revolve around them.

However, if you’re tired of posting airbrushed photos to chase likes from strangers, or ending up in pointless arguments, it’s well worth knowing how to live without social media.

It involves more than just visiting bookshops and watching terrestrial TV again…

Migrate key services elsewhere

If you use Facebook or X to log into third-party platforms, re-register with an email address, or update your account details so you can access the site independently.

Look for alternatives to social media-powered services – updates on school activities which are available via email or in a newsletter, for instance.

Stop posting content and disable push notifications, only logging on to perform essential functions. This helps to identify any key services you’re still reliant on.

You may run the risk of losing saved game data when social media accounts are closed, but it’s often possible to port it (unless the game is hosted exclusively on one platform).

It might seem heretical to end a Snapchat streak or stop watching TikTok videos, yet it’s surprising how these activities suddenly appear juvenile and pointless after you quit.

You can still view public content without an active account on some social platforms, so deleting your profile won’t prevent you viewing restaurant menus or community group updates.

Inform contacts who matter

Facebook pioneered the concept of ‘friends’ being nothing of the sort, and few people on any social media platform would notice your sudden absence.

For those that would, pre-emptively share replacement contact details with them – an email address, a mobile number, or another method of getting in touch.

We’re not advocating quitting every platform with any relationship to social media. WhatsApp (the market leading messaging app) isn’t social media in the traditional sense, even though it’s owned by Meta.

Upload a post a week before you close each account, announcing your intention to do so. This gives people who’d like to stay in touch an opportunity to let you know as much.

When closing an account, permanently delete it rather than disabling it (the latter maintains your profile, with the obvious temptation to reactivate it in future) and delete any apps.

Find better ways to fill your time

For heavy users of social media, sudden disengagement might trigger temporary feelings of anxiety or boredom, which is why scaling down social usage is better than going cold turkey.

These sensations quickly dissipate, especially if you have alternative activities to engage in whenever you absentmindedly pick up a smartphone. These can be online or offline.

Signing up to a news platform provides a real-time stream of live stories, keeping you in touch with current events alongside moderated discussion forums.

It also supports British journalism at a time when Google changes are diminishing the ability of news outlets to report the facts amid oceans of disinformation and regurgitated AI content.

Discussing politics on The Spectator website is far less corrosive than doing so on X, and there’s a higher standard of journalism on The Guardian’s app than you’ll find on Reddit.

Underappreciated regional newspapers continue to report the local stories that really matter, so signing up to newsletters or RSS feeds will keep you rooted in your community.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!