Streamlining Social Media



I want to delete my Facebook. I actually deleted it several times already- because removing "friends" can be so difficult, I closed one account, then started a new one... only to receive, despite the strictest possible privacy settings, more unwanted requests, messages, and pressure to accept and answer them. Social media is useful in so many ways- how could I live so far from family and longtime friends without it?- but Facebook, Instagram, et. al are businesses first and foremost. Their profit margins increase the more people join, share posts, and view ads. Donc, social networks don't care if we put too much information out there or spend too much time online.

Right now, I'm focusing on spring cleaning my social media- a digital detox, if you will. Periodically, I try to step away from all screens for awhile (it could be a day, a weekend, or a week) to get a grip. The internet is a great resource when used wisely, but it can be a little depressing. There's a lot of pressure to constantly take pictures with pretty filters in new outfits at the trendiest places. It can make me feel like I need to chase after a particular lifestyle, or buy certain things I wouldn't be interested in otherwise. For some, social media prompts a nagging sense of unease whenever they're at a dinner or anyplace where it would be inappropriate to check their phones, an urge to check and reply to incoming messages. This affects personal relationships, and is surely the reason Kar and Toffel like to sit on our laptops, or try to bat away the phone every time I spend too much time on it instead of playing "spy on pigeons from the window" with them.


Should you streamline your social media accounts?



  • Do you forgo sleep to surf the web, browse social media, or check incoming messages? Do you keep using the internet long after deciding on a time to stop?
  • Does it affect your self perception- in other words, do you find yourself comparing your life to others? Do you feel a decline in confidence due to unfair comparisons? Does certain social media make you feel bad about your life?
  • Does using certain networks or viewing certain images negatively affect your mood? 
  • Does your mood change, or do you feel uneasy or agitated, when you cannot access the Internet or use an electronic device? When you're signed out of social media accounts, do you find yourself longing to log in again?
  • Do you neglect other duties because of electronic usage? Do you find yourself using portable devices during meals or real-life conversations with people? Can include video games, TV, email, etc.
  • Are you overloading others by broadcasting the latest trending subjects to acquaintances, perhaps taking up your- and their- valuable time? Conversely, do you feel pressured into accepting friends, answering messages, and commenting when you don't really want to? 
  • Would your family members agree with your answers to these questions?

Since I said yes to most of these things, here are some strategies I found useful in cleaning up my digital footprint.



Social media minimalism


  1. Baby steps. Unfollow or unsubscribe to unnecessary accounts, email lists, and TV channels- that is, stuff you're not interested in anymore or things that clutter your feed. Delete apps and games you never (or shouldn't) use, and photos you don't look at or show others frequently- for instance, out of those 100 selfies you took in the car, maybe you should keep only a few. Sign out of social networks you don't urgently need (for instance, many people need Twitter and LinkedIn for work, but Pinterest less so). Making sites less readily accessible prompts you to think about whether you really should sign in or not. 
  2. Prioritize. Figure out what messages, online tasks, or activities are truly important, and what doesn't need to be done. Are online acquaintances cluttering up your newsfeed, so you don't see posts from real-life friends? I used to follow everyone back on Instagram, but then I was missing photos of friends' new babies and pictures from family gatherings, so I stopped. Now my rules for social media are: 1) Do I know this person? 2) Do I remember how I met this person (if ever?) 3) If they were in Paris, would I invite them for dinner or meet them for a drink? If the answer to any of these questions is no, I delete them. As Joan Didion said, I don't even keep in touch with the people I used to be, so why would I keep in touch with random others?
  3. Set reasonable limits. Obviously a lot of us need to use digital technology for business, but if we're overusing it recreationally, we may need to designate specific times for personal accounts. For example, you might wish to check in for half an hour in the morning and again at night, but nothing more. If you feel the urge to grab your phone or computer, try to do something else as you wait for the feeling to pass- scrub a toilet, make yourself a sandwich, walk to a park, whatever. It helps to plan activities in advance so you can react quickly when resisting the urge to use electronic devices. One thing we do at dinner with friends sometimes is put all the phones in the center of the table, and the first one to reach for theirs gets the bill. Even Kylie Jenner sets her phone down at bedtime, answers the first messages she sees in the morning, and ignores the rest, much to the chagrin of Kourtney Kardashian.
  4. Be realistic. Social media isn't a reliable indicator of how connected you are to people in real-life. It can even make some friendships seem closer than they really are. Stop texting or messaging some of your online friends, and see if they take the initiative to contact you. If an online connection sends you unnecessary messages, don't answer. Obviously you want to be nice, but if it's sucking up a lot of your time, don't stress- if people get mad at you for not answering a Candy Crush request, they're not true friends.
  5. Deactivate. In extreme cases of spending too much time on a particular network, you may wish to deactivate your account. You can always reactivate later, but a break can help you be less attached and gain a bit of perspective on whether or not certain forms of social media are truly necessary. For instance, I was really annoyed with Linkedin and Twitter, but kept my accounts because I felt I would be unemployable without them. Then I deactivated and found it actually did not hinder my ability to find a job whatsoever.

Periodically, I also delete Instagram and Facebook pictures that don't mesh with my aesthetic vision for my feed. That's my own weird personal hangup, though. I do find that zeroing my inbox and deleting unnecessary archival emails helps me answer emails more quickly and be more productive. I keep one folder of digital photos on my computer and backed up on the cloud, and the only apps I have on my phone (besides factory apps) are three programs I use daily (not Pinterest and Facebook, which I find easier to access on Chrome). I have 30 documents on Google Drive that I refer to frequently, so I don't feel the need to apply minimalist principles to them at this time. Minimalism is a useful tool when it serves us, but it's not something we should necessarily strive for in every aspect of our lives.
Paris to Go

23 comments:

  1. Used wisely, social media is a force for good..... but I like what you say in this post. Interestingly, research earlier this year showed that passive screening and scrolling increased depression on sites like Facebook, while active involvement and commenting on blogs, pictures etc built a greater sense of community amongst people. Vive l'interaction! (pardon my bad French!)

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    1. I definitely agree it is a force for good when used properly. Look at all the successful social / ethical campaigns and consumer protections we have as a result, and people have access to information and help they wouldn't have had otherwise. I think I read articles about that too! I used to volunteer with autistic children and social media helped them express themselves and literally socialize with other people... but we had to be careful about how much time they spent online, because sometimes they developed attention problems and feelings of frustration. And I feel such a sense of community with the people in the Zero Waste Bloggers Network, and other gluten free bloggers in Paris! It really all depends on the person and how they use it.

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  2. I empathize with the desire to to reduce digital distractions. I deleted Facebook in 2012 and it was initially very tough (especially since I don't live close to my parents or best friends) but it has been the best decision ever made. I communicate the "old fashioned" way by calling my real friends. I only have about 4 people I regularly communicate with aside from my husband and daughter: my mom, my two best girl friends, and my mother in law. Though I don't have so many friends, I know the ones I do have are real connections. In addition, I read just a handful of blogs that resonate with me. The blogging world has changed so much in the last couple of years and I was beginning to feel that most blogs were just one big advertisement persuading me to consume more! Finally, I made a conscious decision to filter what I see. Aside from my love of old Murder She Wrote episodes, I don't watch much reality or even news channels (I read the newspaper). Having a toddler helps in this endeavor because I put away my phone when we are home and we don't keep news media on the tv for her to view. I do hear a lot of sesame street these days though...Thanks for another thoughtful post. Yours is one of those few blogs that I regularly read.

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    1. I love the way you phrase that- filter what you see. It sounds like you have a quality life and quality relationships. I'm so honored you still read my blog! And as for your fitness idea below- awesome idea for a post! I wrote a little bit about that here: http://www.paris-to-go.com/2015/02/activewear-loungewear-and-minimalist.html. But I think it's something that can be explored more specifically. I don't run, but I swim, and my daily commute is 1.6 miles in 22-25 minutes, so I guess that's kind of like running :) I just try to eat healthy and not too much sugar and I prefer free exercises, so I didn't really get into the P90X or Insanity trend. I like the Kayla Itsines exercises I find on Pinterest though.

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  3. This is a total aside, but I was wondering if you might write a post on fitness. Your lifestyle in Paris indicates that you walk a lot for exercise but I wonder if you incorporate any other regimes in your routine- like swimming or running or tennis? Have you ever succumbed to fitness fads in the past? Do you have ideas that you might share on how to stay fit in a minimalist manner? Thanks:)

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  4. Just removing the bookmarks from my bookmark bar has helped a lot. I also like Pinterest secret boards. And I deleted Twitter and Linked in. I also removed everyone but two groups from my feed on Facebook. So there's nothing to check when I get there. It's helped :)

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    1. Those are great suggestions! I forgot about the Bookmarks bar, I delete my bookmarks often too but I don't even think about it, I guess I'm OCD and if I can't remember why I saved something, I just get rid of it lol.And what a great idea about editing the feed. I keep forgetting that you can do that (I wish you could do that with Instagram without unfollowing accounts).

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  5. I wholeheartedly agree! Social media was becoming a negative force in my life so I took the plunge and deleted ALL of my social media accounts earlier this year. The first two weeks were a little weird and made me realize how often I reach for my phone but I really like the balance it's brought to my life. I wrote about it here if you are interested: http://www.modernfrenchblog.com/how-and-why-i-quit-social-media/.

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    1. That is amazing Alyssa, I'm reading it now. I like your two step program. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. De rien! By the way, I also streamlined my blog feed and reduced it to about 10 blogs. Your blog is so informative and interesting that there was no question about it staying in my Feedly. Looking forward to the next one...

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  7. I deleted my Facebook account for a year. It was awesome. Recently made a new one because of my blog and am already getting spammed with friend requests from people I don't talk to. Then you accept. And you... Well, don't talk. I wish you could turn the friend request button off for friends of friends. Also going to stop here as don't want to get started on LinkedIn.

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    1. Exactly! Facebook needs to change that feature but they want us all to be superconnected and are too busy adding emotions to the like button. Linkedin... it's so hard to use and understand the privacy settings. Dislike.

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  8. I look forward to your blog posts and this one resonated with me especially. I used to follow a number of gluten free bloggers, but not any longer. Too much drama and misinformation and I spent half my time myth-busting. That was tiring! lol I already deleted my Instagram account, blocked a large number of people on twitter and do not accept any more friend requests on FB because I don't know who those people are! :) It's becoming increasingly difficult during this presidential election to remain friends with people who post political rhetoric that I find abhorrent. Some days, I just avoid FB altogether. I took a one week vacation from it a while back and didn't miss a thing except a few cute pictures of my nieces, but they sent them to me anyway via email. Thanks for your thoughts and I hope all is well with you! Ginny

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    1. Thank you Ginny! I had the same issue with gluten free blogs, in with all the helpful information was some actually harmful ones. And after terrorist attacks some of the things people post are so hateful and stupid, it makes me never want to use social media again. My uncle always jokes that he would hate his friends if he were ever to go on social media... I can see why that would be true though!

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  9. Social media... I feel like I am in a permanent struggle against my addiction! I deleted Pinterest several months ago, and it's been good for me. It made me feel like I was always on a quest to find the most perfect things, but I didn't like that feeling. It somehow kept me from feeling like things were complete in my house, wardrobe, etc. I was surprised by how little I miss it, even though I thought I loved it.

    Every year, as part of my religious practice, I spend 40 days off of Facebook, and each time, I feel like I discover a whole new brain-- a bit less distracted, a bit more focused, and most of all, less self-conscious. I'm in the middle of it now, and every year, I think, "Maybe I should make this permanent!" I miss my friends' updates, but I always end up spending more time with real people, which is so much more satisfying to my soul.

    However I engage with social media, I am determined to make it work for my own good, not for Mark Zuckerberg's! :)

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    1. That is very interesting about the whole new brain part! I find I am increasingly less focused the more time I spend online. And what you said about feeling like your home and wardrobe were incomplete, I felt something similar. A nagging sense of dissatisfaction or the feeling that I needed something I really didn't.

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  10. The equivalent of cat on laptop for me is toddler vying for smart phone. That signals me that it's time to put it away and engage with the world around me.

    Leah from www.thriftshopchic.com

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    1. PS - I kept wondering about the meaning behind Kar and Toffel's names...took me a minute to realize they were one word :)

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    2. That is too cute! Haha yes they are little potatoes :)

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  11. While I answered "no" to all your questions, I still found the hints helpful! I have friends who will take a break from social media or delete accounts, and it's great that they know themselves and what's best for them. For me, social media is what I make of it. I do have friends who can complain about facebook and how awful it is, and my response to them is that social media is what you make of it. If you want to be on it and have two friends or 800 friends, you can. If you want to have a lengthy feed to read that's chatty and helps you feel connected to family and friends then that's great! It's the freedom to use social media as you'd like. I love being connected to my church family, relatives, friends, and college friends from around the world so I use it for community. My youth group kids are on facebook, snapchat and instagram, so we stay connected that way. When friends are having a hard time, it's helpful for me to see that and then reach out to them privately to offer comfort or help. It's a fun way for me to rejoice with friends who are planning weddings or posting photos of their kids! Do I get annoyed with political rants and strong opinions that simply must be posted frequently? Sure thing! But that's when I use "unfollow" or stopping the notifications so that I'm still their friend but don't see their frequent or controversial posts.

    I'm on the fence about twitter and linked in. I could give those up easily and focus only on facebook, instagram (one personal account and one for my blog), and snapchat (those youth group are hilarious snapchatters!). But my friends and I put our phones away when we're together. Would rather focus on in person time than seeing what's new on our phones.

    With your post in mind, I will spend this weekend being more mindful of what groups I'm in on facebook and the people I follow. Thank you for the thought provoking post! And I'm a huge fan of your blog, your style, and your wisdom.

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    1. Thank you so much Sunny! It's a great feature that you can unfollow on Facebook without deleting a person. Love that you and your friends put your phones away when you're together.

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