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Why Tom Holland’s Social Media Break Is A Good Idea For All Of Us

We don’t need Spider-Man’s “spidey sense” to see that too much social media can be “very detrimental” to mental well-being
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This article ran at the Daily Wire (August 22, 2022) where it is available by subscription only.

Last week, Spider-Man: No Way Home actor Tom Holland made the bold decision to delete Instagram and Twitter and take a break from social media.

Tom Holland/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 3.0)

In a video shared with his 67 million Instagram followers, Holland called both of the apps overstimulating and overwhelming. “I get caught up and I spiral when I read things about me online,” Holland added, “and ultimately it’s very detrimental to my mental state.”

The strength to stop something as addictive and sometimes harmful as social media is a superpower all on its own. Forget spidey sense — Holland will soon start to experience new levels of clarity, connection, and happiness. And he’s not the only one who can tap into those benefits.

All of us have the power to delete our social media apps and start living the human adventure to the fullest. Here’s how to do it.

First, take some time to decompress. Let’s say you’ve pulled a “Tom Holland” and deleted your social media apps. Awesome job! Give your mind and body a week to restore gradually to normal conditions. Make a list of things that make you happy and do one each day. Resist the impulse to check your social media accounts. You are not missing anything as important as the gift you’re giving yourself.

Yes, it’s hard. But realize you’re kicking a habit that was carefully designed to be habit-forming.
In his book [Un]Intentional: How Screens Secretly Shape Your Desires, and How You Can Break Free, Doug Smith explains how triggering, actions, and variable rewards come together to form habits: “Just as the cat comes running when she hears the can opener pierce through a tuna can, so also we are drawn to the ‘pop’ of carefully crafted messages, images, sounds, or app designs.”

You can conquer feelings of loneliness that’ll come from quitting social media by spending more face-to-face time with people. Squash FOMO by knocking off items on your to-do list. Instead of being inspired by other people’s content, get creative and make something of your own. During your decompression, you’ll feel a strange new (or long unfelt) sensation of presence. You’re already living more authentically with technology. Now take it to the next level by assuming your rightful role as a tech boss.

It takes guts to delete your favorite social media apps. Want another superpower? Go from user to harnesser by decoding the true meaning of technology.
At the heart of the word technology, the root teks means “to weave or fabricate.” Technology is all about us — just not in the passive, selfish way. It’s the art and skill of our hands and minds that produces technology. And that art and skill applies not only to the maker of a piece of tech, but to those who harness it.

We can harness tech tools in ways that will benefit not just us but our family and friends. To become the boss of your tech, survey all the gadgets, subscriptions, and platforms in your life and ask: does this technology positively or negatively affect my time, energy, relationships, memory, finances, marriage, kids, and mental health? Purge any device or service that doesn’t make the cut. And whatever you keep, use purposely to achieve your goals. You’ve ditched social media, for now or possibly for good. You’ve assumed the role of tech boss. Now it’s time to live it out.

The third step for Mr. Holland and for you will be to release your potential by living out the
human adventure.

French philosopher of technology Jacques Ellul (1912–1994) encouraged people to escape the confines of the technological society by rediscovering “lost truths” of life. Use the time you used to spend scrolling through social media to reconnect with what makes you human: start a conversation with someone new, play a board game with friends, go outside for a walk, take a hike, paint or draw something, write or read a poem, share a meal with a colleague, send a handwritten letter through the mail, listen to an album of music all the way through, build something, make up a song, sit for 20 minutes and just think.

In the end, nothing you may see on social media matters more than the health of your mind. Holland recognizes this and has taken the first step towards “being happier and healthier.” Let’s join him on the adventure.

You may also wish to read: Social media can literally kill. It killed Cheslie Chryst. Andrew McDiarmid: Chryst’s suicide — and Constant Wu’s thwarted attempt — spotlight the toxic cyberbullying that is intrinsic to Big Tech’s formula for success. Many now ask whether teens who can’t drink, drive, or own a gun should even BE on social media, given the uptick in teen mental health issues since 2010. (Andrew McDiarmid)

Andrew McDiarmid

Senior Fellow, Media Relations and Assistant to the Director
Andrew McDiarmid is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute. He also serves as Assistant to CSC Director Stephen C. Meyer, a Media Relations Specialist, and a contributing writer to MindMatters.ai. He holds an MA in Teaching from Seattle Pacific University and a BA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Washington. His tech column at Newsmax, Authentic Technology, explores today's technology landscape and encourages readers to live authentically in the digital age. His writing has appeared in the New York Post, Houston Chronicle, The Daily Wire, San Francisco Chronicle, The American Spectator, The Federalist, Real Clear Politics, Technoskeptic Magazine, and elsewhere. In addition to his roles at the Discovery Institute, he is host of the Scottish culture and music podcast Simply Scottish, available anywhere podcasts are found. Learn more about his work at andrewmcdiarmid.org.

Why Tom Holland’s Social Media Break Is A Good Idea For All Of Us