We all know the downside of social media— namely that it makes people feel alienated rather than connected, thereby betraying its own name. We are well aware that social media has the power to negatively impact our thoughts, emotions, and desires– it can cloud our visions and perspectives, distorting our view of “reality”; it can create false fears and magnify our insecurities, making FOMO a major driving force; it can make our attention span as short as our tolerance level.
But living in the 21st century, it’s almost impossible to avoid or abstain from social media completely. That’s why “quitting” isn’t the solution. Most of us can’t do that, anyway.
So the real question is, how do we ensure that we don’t become enslaved or addicted to social media? Because after all, social media is only as “harmful” as we let it be.
Proposal– slow down and “fast” social media.
The frequency and the intensity of your social media use determines whether or not you are “addicted” to social media.
So first, you have to check your status (no, not your FB status, but your social media consumption and use patterns).
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you check your Instagram or Facebook (or any other social media platform) excessively?
- Do you find yourself obsessing over how many “likes” you get and become agitated when you don’t get enough?
- Do you equate the number of followers or friends on social media to popularity or likability?
- Do you feel envious or jealous when you see your friends’ “picture-perfect” lives on social media?
- Do you feel like you’re always missing out or being left out of significant events?
If you answered yes to all or most of these questions…
Here are some practical steps you can take to minimize your use of, and gradually detach yourself from, social media:
1. Find a hobby outside of the Internet world.
Whether it’s sports, arts, music, hanging out with friends, or discovering new restaurants, find something that you can enjoy, OFF SCREEN. Seriously, it’s a whole lot better than scrolling through the same newsfeed 40 times a day.
2. Don’t live by the “pic or it didn’t happen” motto/mentality.
This mentality ruins the fun, really. Ironically (but too often), we miss out on fun moments because we are too busy trying to perfectly capture the “fun” moments. And the truth is, fond memories most often aren’t “recorded,” nor do they have to be “proven.”
3. Consider deleting some apps from your phone.
Identify which social media platform(s) you spend the most time on, and if you feel that it has become an unhealthy obsession or a platform for procrastination, delete it from your phone. While FOMO is real, the truth is that you’re probably not missing out on much. And ironically, FOMO is more apparent when you are on social media than when you aren’t.
4. Don’t be afraid of solitude.
Silence is good for your soul, even if you’re an extrovert! The world is a loud place, and unless you deliberately set apart time to be alone (to reflect, meditate, or just to be still), your mind will always be occupied or enslaved by something. Don’t shun solitude, but use it to recharge yourself– aloneness does not equal loneliness!
5. Make plans to see people face-to-face.
Hiding behind the screens to communicate things that were intended for face-to-face is not only restricting, but quite frankly, cowardly. Besides, why choose 2D over 3D?
In light of a new year approaching, why not set some healthy boundaries that will free us from distractions and lead us into a more healthy lifestyle?