Summer Diet: How to Reduce Time Spent on Social Media for a Greener Living

We’re very close to celebrating the first official day of summer, so it’s time, once again, to decide what we do over the hot months of the year. That’s why Green & Growing is here to challenge you with an existential question phrased by Mary Oliver. In her poem titled A Summer Day, she asks: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” If you don’t know yet how to answer it, read on to find out about our summer diet plan.

You may have heard these lines before, and the may have blazed like a headline over your thoughts. At least for a while. But the question remains and adopts a certain urgency, especially considering how quickly a summer passes. If you think it dramatic, we can alter the inquiry to say: “Tell me, do you plan to spend this one wild and precious summer on Facebook?” We hope not.

Going Down the Rabbit Hole

For many people, it’s extremely easy to let summer pass them by as they sink deeper and deeper in social media. Whether Twitter or Facebook, it’s way less effort-demanding to wage a political war online than to do something to improve the quality of your real life. We understand the temptation to “defend democracy” while cable news simmers in the background.

The nation is burning, so who has time to organize picnics and take lazy walks? Under the cover of ‘being a good citizen,’ plenty of people feel honor-bound to express their opinions non-stop –  tonight, tomorrow, next week, and forever. That is, until we die or our devices fail on us. However, there must be more of this life than fighting virtual strangers online. That’s why we came up with a summer diet resolution.

RELATED: [Green Living 101: Tips on How to Improve Your Efforts]

How to Make the Most of Summer

Instead of gorging on that delusion for the next three months, we could help ourselves by adopting an easy summer diet. And because we’re being realistic, we know you cannot give up all social media. Here are some short steps to help you reduce your time on social media and replace it with greener activities.

Step 1: Take Inventory of Social Media Consumption

Like any reasonable plan, this summer diet starts by asking you to evaluate the time you spend on social media. If you don’t know how bad it is, how can you master portion control?  How much time do you spend scrolling and posting each day? How many hours do you dedicate to feeding on or adding to the outrage out there?

Note: You can take TV time into account, if you want, especially if you use this time to watch news outlets almost exclusively.

According to a recent survey, the average American spends about two hours a day on social networks. Unfortunately, that number is only going up as years pass. Compare that survey with your own Facebook and Twitter feeds. You might find that estimate too low or too high, depending on your online habits. But whatever your social media consumption is, take a week to calculate it. For best results with this summer diet, be honest with yourself.

Step 2: Find Green, Summery Activities

Now that you have a number, it’s time to relocate some time to other endeavors. Whatever your total time is, pledge to devote a quarter of it each day to something unrelated to social media. Instead, we suggest trying something summery – which, we realize, can mean a number of things.

Depending on your preferences, take a swim, a walk in the local park, a bicycle ride, or a picnic outdoors. Call a friend and take a trip to the beach, or read a book on the porch. Take up green tasks, such as gardening. If you live in an urban setting, don’t let that discourage you. There are many eco-friendly activities you can try, as well. Not least of all is volunteering for urban forestry projects. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, it just has to take you away from engaging solely on social media.

RELATED: [Urban Forestry 101: How Volunteering Projects Make for Greener Cities]

Green, summery activities refers to being outside and recognizing, even if just for a little while, that life is more than geo-political scandals. Hopefully, no-one hears “summery” and thinks “Twitter.” But sans discipline, it’s easy to spend too much of our time down the rabbit hole that is the online. That’s what this summer diet attempts to prevent.

With this simple plan, the math is easy. Do you spend an hour a day on social media? Then turn 15 minutes of your day into sunny pleasures. Similarly, if you spend four hours a day, one hour will be re-channeled to other green tasks. Make it a contest between wasting time on Facebook and consciously making yourself healthier and happier. What would you rather do?

Step 3: Reduce News-related Anxiety

Spending too much time online is something most of us have worried about at least once. Yes, we mostly joke about it, but we do have our moments when we’re serious too. Even though we know it’s unhealthy to invest so much time in the online, we still make excuses for it. How could we not pay minute-by-minute attention to what’s going on in the world? If we divert our attention to something else even for a second, won’t the world get worse?


If it’s possible for you, try a new thing this summer. Go to a place where there’s no Wi-Fi or cell reception. That means you’re forced to stay away from email, Twitter, Facebook, texts, and – most importantly of all – blow-by-blow news of terrible happenings. If you’re a news junky, that might sound nearly impossible, but you would be surprised of the outcome.

Learning to step away – whether for a few hours or a few days – is only hard at first. But once you commit to this easy summer plan, sticking to it can become easy. The health benefits of choosing a green, rewarding activity over Facebook are quick and deep. No better way to remind yourself that the world can also be beautiful.

Step 4: Enjoy Your Green Living

The only discipline you need for this summer plan is the resolve to step away. Let the online madness handle itself for a short time, each day. You won’t believe how rewarding it is. Customer satisfaction guaranteed.

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Lindsey Andrews

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