Gen Zers struggle to save their sanity with social media breaks

For Lent, “People usually give up chips or ice cream, something bad for you,” Vincent Opalewski tells The Post. “I decided to give up social media — cold-turkey.”

The 25-year-old had been feeling disenchanted with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat for awhile. So he deleted the apps, intending to take a short break — then liked life without them so much, he never went back.

“After a 10-hour workday, you go on someone’s social media and see pictures of their vacation, hanging out and having a good time,” says Opalewski, reflecting on his dislike of the platforms. “It makes you feel bad about yourself and puts you in a bad mood.”

It’s not just civilians who feel the sting of a Facebook-stalking binge. At the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month, pop sensation Selena Gomez — the third-most followed Instagram user, with more than 150 million followers — made waves when she called social media “terrible for my generation” while promoting a movie.

“It’s dangerous for sure,” said the 26-year-old, who habitually takes breaks from the platform.

Gomez also talked about the connection between social media and negative mental health in April, on fashion brand Coach’s podcast “Dream it Real.”

“I noticed with me, I got kind of depressed looking at these people who look beautiful and amazing,” said Gomez on the podcast. “It would just get me down a lot.”

Albany resident Olivia Clemente, 26, understands how Gomez feels — and adds that social media creates a lot of pressure to project a certain image.

“When you see these gorgeous influencers posting photos, I definitely feel bad that I can’t look like them,” says Clemente, who works in politics. Still, she worries about being “judged” on Instagram — so she tries to keep up with the Kardashians, so to speak. “If I go to an event, it’s for an Instagram picture. Outfits are planned in order to look good in the photo.”

Clemente, who admits to editing some of her photos with Facetune, describes her relationship with social media as “unhealthy” and “conflicted” — but says she can’t imagine quitting.

“I don’t know what would happen if someone takes themselves off,” she says. Instead, she tries to remind herself “not to be jealous of others on social media,” because their pictures represent “an edited life.”

Last year, for example, Clemente met a contestant from “The Bachelorette” — and was surprised when, off-screen, she looked “so normal.”

“I felt so much better about myself,” she says. “You actually don’t know what anyone looks like anymore.”

Along with stressing about their looks, users also fret about their metrics.

“I get nervous if I don’t get enough likes,” says Kimberly Katz, a 24-year-old from Hell’s Kitchen who works in sales and spends up to seven hours a day on Instagram.

‘When you see these gorgeous influencers posting photos, I definitely feel bad that I can’t look like them.’

Users’ obsession with numbers is something that the social-media company is aware of. In Canada, Instagram is currently testing a program that hides “likes” on posts. The goal, a spokesperson from parent company Facebook explained this month, is to get users to “not spend as much time thinking about how many likes these posts receive.”

It’s an interesting step — although Katz, a loyal user, is pretty much on board with the app either way.

“There have been times when I’ve deleted Instagram, when the news says how bad social media is . . . But then a few weeks later, you’re doing something cool and you want people to see it,” she says.

Opalewski, who’s now almost three months social-media sober, says he gets that conflicted, wistful reaction a lot from his peers.

Friends, he says, reacted “like it’s the 1970s and I’ve quit smoking,” he says with a laugh. “[They said,] ‘I wish I could do that.’ ”

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