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I Want to Cut Off Social Media, But Not Lose Friends; Help!

14 May, 2022
Q My friends had helped me through my situational depression. I had to quit all of my social media, and 3 out of 5 reasons were the same and now I’m not in contact with alot of my friends. It has been 4 months, I wish I had been there for them the entire time but because of cutting off social media completely, my mental health is a ton times better. I don’t want to lose my good friends. What do I do?

Answer

Salam Aleikum Dear Sister,

Thank you for writing to us. Indeed, modern tools such as internet and social media are useful. You can communicate directly, find lots of interesting information and people with similar mindset, etc. However, as everything, they have their downside, such as the negative consequences of too much screen time: addiction, being overloaded by many impulses, fake news, ads, etc.

That is why nowadays lots of people decide to free themselves from social media, and try getting back to real-life interactions. I have even seen YouTube videos advising people how to “detoxify”! But what if all your friends are only available in SM?

What is the exact reason you have quit social media? What kind of mental health issues has it caused you? Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of youth with mental health problems related to the use of social media.

If you have been affected, please seek help from one-to-one therapy. Inshallah, a therapist can help you deal with your issues. As I do not know the exact reason, I can only give you some food for thought, and then see whether you can implement one or the other in your own life.

Checking Alternatives

Firstly, you do not have to quit all apps, as there are some which can be useful to keep in touch with your friends. For example, Messenger, the application for direct messaging also works without having a FB profile. Also, Messenger (or WhatsApp, or other platforms) have very useful features to keep in touch: voicemails, video calls, group calls, chat, etc. By this way, you keep more direct contact with people, and the experience is more “real” than just a text message.

Of course, this will never EVER replace in-person meetings, and they should not be replaced anyway, because face to face interaction gives you so much more than social media communication. However, we often do not have the time or means to meet frequently with loved ones, so a messenger or live chat is a very good alternative. Sometimes, it is the only alternative when a loved one lives apart. 

Would this be an option for you? Maybe you can stick to only one platfrom and make a plan when exactly and for how long you would use that a day. Let’s say, you have one hour every day for your friends to catch up, or to make a group live chat with them with video.

Focus on Real-Life Meetings

If you do not want to go back to even the Messenger, then the other solution is to switch your thoughts and decide seeing your friends only at school or wherever, talking with them only on the phone. It is easier said than done when everyone else around you uses social media, but it is an option too. I know how difficult it is to stay strong in such circumstances, and refuse something (whether physical or mental) that you used to enjoy so much for the sake of your  health.  

Finding Real Friends

My dear sister, what do you fear? What would you miss out on if you did not keep in touch with your friends on social media? They might forget you? They might talk about things you do not know? I believe if your friends are peers you meet at school, then this second option might feel less problematic.

However, if a distance is created between you just because you decided to quit social media, then the question arises: what kind of friends are they?  You can think about this situation as a test: who wants to keep in touch with you despite me not being on social media? And who do you want to see without using your phone?

True friends are there for each other, helping each other. If they really care about your mental health, then they would make some effort for your friendship. And you can also do some effort: invite them, do meetings, go for a walk and talk together, have a coffee, etc. You can do activities together, sports, etc. 

Despite this, try to look around and see whether you can find new friends with the same mindset, and with more willingness to use less social media. Remember:

Verily, you will never leave anything for the sake of Allah Almighty but that Allah will replace it with something better for you.” Musnad Aḥmad 23074 

May Allah help you sister!

About Timea Aya Csányi
Timea Aya Csányi studied Psychology and Islamic Studies Bsc. at the International Online University. She is a certified NLP® Practitioner, one of our writers and counselors at the "Ask the Counselor" section. She has been the editor of the "Ask the Counselor" section for 10 years. Now she mainly works as a fitness trainer and journalist.