Breaking Free: Deleting TikTok for a More Peaceful and Productive Life
“Social media can have a negative impact on your mental health.” I hear that statement being spoken on a weekly basis. I knew social media COULD have a negative impact on one's mental health but I did not see it in my own life so I thought I was in the clear. After seeing many TikToks on my ‘for you page’, advocating for less screen time, I decided to take the next step: deleting TikTok. Here is what I learned from my experience of deleting TikTok for a more peaceful and productive life:
If you are like me, you may think deleting the app will not do much since you are not “addicted”. Find the app that is taking up all of your time and get rid of it, even if it is only for a month. I knew my relationship with TikTok got bad when I could not focus on homework because of the distraction that lied at my fingertips. I found myself mindlessly scrolling all the time. A few minutes went by and I could not even remember a majority of the countless videos I had just watched. The thing stopping me from deleting TikTok was losing all of my drafts. I decided to think about this logically: would I really need a video of me lip syncing in 5 years? No, I would probably not even remember making that video. What about the cute and funny videos with my friends? If they were worth remembering, I saved them. I was also worried about missing out on trends. What I thought was going to be a problem was not one at all. Sure, I did not know all of the new trending sounds and dances, but I did not need to. Ask yourself why you will not delete the app and come up with a resolution.
REFLECT ON YOUR PRIORITIES
Take time to think about which of your current priorities will still be a priority in the future. Mindless scrolling should not be a priority. Once you have your priorities straight, you have to make the change to go after them. You may be saying “I didn’t have time to study” or “I don’t have time to go to the gym”. These are examples of common priorities in one’s life, including mine. Do you actually not have time in the 24 hours you are given, or are you spending 4 plus hours a day on TikTok? It takes 10,000 hours to perfect a skill. If (like me) you spend an average of 4 hours on TikTok each day, you will spend 1460 hours of your life on the app each year. During that time you could have learned a new language, perfected that skill in your sport, achieved a good SAT/ACT score, learned how to draw, paint, etc. But instead you perfected addiction and procrastination.
Many people say social media makes you compare your appearances to others. Personally, I never found myself playing the comparison game while on social media. But, a few days after deleting TikTok, I started becoming more content with my own presence, I stopped complaining as much, I saw things from new perspectives, and I felt much better. I did not think this would have a big impact on my mental health but it seemed as if I had gotten out of a funk that I did not even realize I was in.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT
According to Antonella Gemmoni, a Modern & Medieval Research student at Cambridge University, the reason teens are addicted to social media is because it gives off short bursts of dopamine. Each video you watch is a hit of dopamine, leading you to crave more of it. The moment you stop watching videos, your dopamine levels drop and you will start to feel the urge to return back to the app. Therefore, once your body has received enough dopamine from TikTok for the day, you will no longer chase after it through real-world experiences. That makes it so much harder to find happiness in things outside of social media because the apps give it to you in a few seconds. This takes away a really special part of life. Once I deleted TikTok, I found myself being more present in the moment and enjoying the little things life has to offer. It was not an easy process though. I found myself hearing my phone buzz and often going to click on TikTok just to come to the realization that the app was not there and there were no notifications. According to Dr. Robert Rosenberger, a philosopher at Georgia Institute of Technology, this is called “phantom vibration syndrome”. Nine out of ten people suffer from this. It sounds silly, but once it happens to you, it makes you realize how much of your life was given away to social media.
Delete it or don’t delete it, at least you are now aware. While there a numerous advantages of using TikTok such as learning new things, new hacks, finding new shows, books, movies, places, etc., I would urge you to take into consideration if you really want to keep scrolling for hours or if you are just stuck in the loop hoping something else will stop the time-wasting for you.
I was on my TikTok cleanse for about 3 months. Recently, I went on a trip with long car and plane rides, I decided to get it back on just to pass time. Now, I no longer have to go to TikTok daily. Some days I forget about the app. It no longer is a distraction in my life. A quick tip for if you do not want to completely delete the app is to set up a screen time on it with a random password for the week days, and allow yourself to have screen time on the app over the weekend. I strongly encourage you to take all of this into consideration. Deleting TikTok was a sacrifice but I 100% believe it is all worth it.
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Gemmoni, Antonella. “Is TikTok Ruining Our Ability to Be Happy?” New Thinking, 11 Sept. 2023, www.newthinking.com/health/is-tiktok-ruining-our-ability-to-be-happy#:~:text=This%20rewarding%20release%20of%20dopamine,the%20app%20back%20up%20again.
“Most People Suffer from ‘Phantom Vibration Syndrome.’” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 10 Jan. 2016, www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/phantom-vibration-syndrome-up-to-90-per-cent-of-people-suffer-phenomenon-while-mobile-phone-is-in-pocket-a6804631.html?scrlybrkr=353ea950#.