99 Days of Social Media Fasting


In January, I established a new habit around my social media consumption with my iPhone's Downtime setting. Downtime allows you to "restrict" access to specific apps by time limit or time window. While it is easy to bypass the restriction, all notifications get hidden, and the app icons fade on the home screen.

I attempted using Downtime once a couple of years ago. The first time, I restricted access by a time limit. I was unsuccessful. As my time on social media varied each day, the restriction became unpredictable, making it hard to build behavior around.

Drawing on my success with intermittent fasting, I wondered if I'd have more luck setting up a daily "social media fast." Using Downtime, I applied a restriction to any social app from 8 pm to 9:30 am.

I was deliberate about the time window I selected. For one, I knew that I might want to browse Twitter after work at 6 pm. Between working out and getting dinner ready, 2 hours seemed like plenty of time to take a look. I didn't want any distractions in the morning, so I only made room for 15 minutes before the workday gets going around 9:45 am. These days, I wake up, journal, read, get dressed, make coffee, and by the time I sit down to begin my work, I haven't even thought of scrolling through social.

Today marks 99 days of practicing this new habit. It's made me see just how much social used to fill my time. I don't miss it at all, but I do enjoy the balance. It's nice to remain connected without being consumed. When I started on this pursuit, I had a slight fear that I'd miss out on something important. Months later, I've learned that if it's important enough, it finds its way to me.

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