This is You Won’t Regret It, a new weekly column featuring recommendations, tips, and unsolicited advice from the Mashable culture team.
I’ll admit it: I am that Trash Person who takes approximately three business days to text back.
At the time of writing this, I have eight unread texts, two untouched Facebook group chats with countless conversation threads that I don’t have the energy to follow, and my personal Hydra: three inboxes with 2,312 unopened emails. (Again, I know that I am The Worst.)
And that doesn’t even account for the unseen messages on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, because I turned off push notifications for all of the social media apps on my phone.
As a deeply introverted person, being constantly connected to the world is exhausting. Not to get all Baby Boomer-y “phones are bad” here, but checking social media is an addiction; the first thing I do when I wake up, after flailing around my nightstand to turn off my phone’s alarm, is scroll through my notifications.
For a while, I was glued to my phone. I loved that I could constantly interact with the world, but nonstop socialization and the pressure to respond to notifications became exhausting. When I was in school, my journalism program stressed the importance of staying constantly up to date on current events, so I turned on push notifications from six different news outlets. But whenever a story broke, I would be pelted with notifications. Whenever a friend commented on a post in a Facebook group, or someone I followed retweeted a hot take, or an Instagram mutual posted a picture of their morning run, my phone would light up.
I felt like the victim of Buddy the Elf’s snowball fury — only instead of getting pelted with holiday cheer, I was getting barraged by everyone’s mediocre political opinions.
So I turned off all of my push notifications.
There’s something deeply satisfying about waking up to a single text and a DM instead of trying to keep up with the dozens of notifications that plagued my poor iPhone. Annoying alerts like “Henry posted for the first time in a while!” and “Try new Filters & Lenses every day!” were gone, and in its place was total, blissful silence.
Turning off notifications doesn’t mean that I stay off social media entirely. It just means that I can scroll through my feed without being interrupted by the compulsion to maintain 18 different conversations.
Other Twitter users share the same sentiment — push notifications and the pressure to interact are exhausting.
Twitter request: an account consisting entirely of screenshots of push notifications that led users to disable push notifications
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) September 10, 2018
being on social media isn’t the same energy as texting someone, sometimes I just wanna scroll through my TL in peace, texting requires a lot more energy than liking a few tweets lol and these times I don’t have that kinda energy
— sara (@acidicpeach) March 15, 2018
To All the Texts I Thought I’d Already Replied To Before Remembering That I’m Such a Terrible Procrastinator Who Only Replies to Texts in His Head Because While Tweeting is Fun, Texting is Too Much Commitment and I Usually Don’t Have the Energy for That
— Juan Miguel Severo (@TheRainBro) August 28, 2018
As Peter Allen Clark wrote in an earlier Mashable essay about taking a break from drowning in notifications by keeping Do Not Disturb on, “I now feel like I am in control of my phone, versus the other way around.”
Only for me, I can’t fully commit to being that disengaged from the world. When I tried keeping Do Not Disturb on, I was hit with an overwhelming sense of FOMO. How could I reconcile the need for peace and quiet with feeling like I was completely alone?
Instead, I went into the settings for every social media and news app and manually turned off all push notifications. I kept all DM alerts and texts on, but muted a majority of the group chats I’d been roped into, so that if somebody wanted to reach me, they could reach me directly.
By turning off push notifications, I finally created a space where I could be introverted in peace. Without the constant pressure to be “on,” I had time to recharge by myself until I have the energy to reply to messages and reenter the world.
Don’t get me wrong — I love socializing. But having designated time to be by myself, without getting interrupted by promotional emails and alerts that someone is typing on Snapchat, (what sadistic demon turned that into a push notification??) has been vital to maintaining my mental health.
A 2017 study backs it up. In the Do Not Disturb challenge, 30 participants disabled notifications on their phones for 24 hours. Researches from Telefonica Research in Barcelona and Carnagie Mellon in Pittsburgh concluded that “notifications have locked us in a dilemma.”
Without notifications, the co-authors wrote, participants felt less distracted and more productive, but they also felt anxious because they were “less connected with one’s social group.” But when the study wrapped up, nine participants planned to “manage notifications more consciously,” and several individuals vowed to only keep notifications on for certain apps. When researchers followed up two years later, 13 participants stuck to their plan — one said that they kept “only important messages from SMS, none from Facebook or other social media.”
So if you’re an outgoing introvert who need some damn space to get away from the world, without becoming a total social media hermit, consider turning off push notifications. It’s a pain to do it manually, but at least you’ll be free from Facebook’s On This Day alerts that remind you of how embarrassing you used to be!
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