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I’m trying to be less online. Here’s how it’s going

After being very online since the early 2000s, I tried out an app that blocks you from opening up other apps. 


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 19, 2023   Updated on Aug 21, 2023, 6:52 am CDT

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I’m guilty of doomscrolling regularly, especially at night. I go through apps one by one until I tire of consuming nonstop content. It’s not a great habit—and I find it harder to sleep after scrolling through my phone—but I’ve always found ways to rationalize it. I need to know what’s happening on the internet for my job. Scrolling through feeds is also soothing in an odd way. But about a week ago, I made the decision to attempt to be less online. After being very online since the early 2000s, I tried out an app that blocks you from opening up other apps

Blocker apps to prevent distraction have existed for a while, and while I heard about other people successfully using them to get work done and sleep, I opted to instead test my willpower. But now I’ve finally given in and realized that yes, I will look at my phone unless there is something or someone preventing me from doing so. 

I’m also monitoring my screentime. I never looked at my daily usage numbers before; afraid of what I’d see. But now I’m looking at how much I use each app. Unfortunately, most of my time is still spent on the bad app (Twitter/X), followed by Instagram and TikTok. And then there’s a bunch of smaller apps I use more sporadically. I’ve identified eight apps that are a problem, and I limit my time on them. 

Social media is silly because you can spend a large chunk of your day scrolling through apps and still miss out on big news or discussions. You’re always going to miss something. Truly offline people miss out on everything that happens online, and they don’t care. What bliss. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people. Instead, I’m aiming for somewhere in the middle: online enough to know about new memes, but offline enough that my thoughts are not consumed by internet discourse. It’s a goal!

Why it matters

I usually detest how much adults have become obsessed with tracking every aspect of their daily lives. Tracking my social media use, however, has been helpful in showing me how much time I waste simply scrolling. I don’t see every post on my feeds now, and I’m free. 

So far, it’s going well. I’m still online, but only in short intervals. I might have missed a really funny video you posted, but it’s OK. I’ll probably see it next week

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*First Published: Aug 19, 2023, 6:00 am CDT