“Social media is ruining my life.”
“Im addicted to social media.”
“I’m taking a break from social media..”
Above are some of the common phrases I hear my peers use when the subject of social media arises. According to research “social media triggers a dopamine high” - a neurochemical released in our brain just like food, sex or drugs. This is where the feeling of addiction derives from or the need to be constantly “in the know”, which creates fear in missing out on stuff when we’ve gotten so used to absorbing all the information that social media provides.
The aim of this article isn’t to encourage you to abandon the world of social media or discourage the love/hate relationship you have for it. There’s so much negativity associated with the words ‘social media’ but how can you turn it into a positive medium without it overwhelming your life?
Despite our many efforts of just unwinding and taking a break from social media, there’s no doubt that whilst trying to do so, we feel antsy and anxious when resisting the urge to check our Instagram feeds, Twitter or Facebook (if anyone even uses that on a regular anymore!) even for a split second. Others may beg to differ but social media isn’t wicked, “it’s how we use it that makes it a bad influence on us.” (Anna Chui)
“The biggest fear of quitting or pausing social media is missing out.”
So now for the best part - let me share how YOU can take back control of social media rather than it control you! The following tips/tricks will help you strike the right balance when it comes to social media use within your daily lifestyle. If you’ve ever felt pressured or are feeling pressured to be constantly active on social media and it’s become overwhelming, then keep reading!
Creating a healthy balance
To get down to the root of the problem is to firstly identify it. Assess your current relationship with social media and find ways on how you can create the right balance. The way I’ve started incorporating this method is by checking my social media platforms during my work commute and snuggled up in bed in the evenings just before I make my way to dreamland. Let’s be real - as a content creator one of the most important things about what we do is engagement.
So if it means spending 30 mins to 1 hour during my daily commute and in the evenings scrolling on my feed then so be it! I want to keep up with what my friends are up to and delve into all the inspiration my fellow content creators are sharing. But how am I trying to balance this? Well, I work in an office so during the day I try to resist the ‘itch’ to pick up my phone and give in to the allure of endless scrolling. This way I’m improving my productivity, having meaningful and ‘banterful’ interactions with my colleagues as well as expanding my knowledge in the industry.
Over the last year, I’ve read so much about the dark side of social media - the addiction and breach of privacy. As human beings, we have a natural habit of placing the blame of how we feel, think, behave on others. Can the same be applied in this case? At the end of the day, the way we consume social media is up to us. We feel bombarded with all the content thrust upon us and feel as if there’s no escape which isn’t entirely true.
Discipline yourself and create time limits on the apps you’re using.
Whether you’re a content creator, entrepreneur or just a normal social user, the common factor here is that we’re utilising social media applications to enhance our relationships. We didn’t sign up for dysfunctional living so the key here is taking this need offline. As a content creator how can you take your relationships offline? Well, why not research local or national networking events. I’m LOVING all the blogger brunches and social events that are popping up on my Instagram feeds - not only are they a great way to meet new people or catch up with your ‘blogger babes,’ but they also aid in enabling creativity and longevity in content production, elevating your brand thus granting you a successful, fulfilling career.
Similarly, if your excessive social media usage is due to your love of seeing other people’s travel photos, then why not try saving up for a solo/group trip with your friends and capture your own memories! A real world activity that can bring so much pleasure and joy to your life while making memories that would have never existed if you spent your whole time scrolling through your Instagram feed.
Blocking out the noise
Surrounding yourself with positive energy doesn’t just apply to offline relationships. For the sake of your mental health, it’s important to bring this same energy to your social feed. Unfollow accounts that may ignite negative emotions, even if it’s your favourite influencer, DO IT! Keep yourself motivated, inspired and encouraged offline AND online.
Delete and mute!
Ever since I deleted my Snapchat, not only has my battery life improved but I’ve gotten rid of all the nonsense that I was constantly exposing myself to. I asked myself: “Is this app really benefiting me in any way? Will this app aid in the success of my brand?” The answer was obviously ‘No’ so I held down that app and clicked X. I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to muting notifications and deleting unnecessary apps but that was definitely a step towards the right direction.
Social media updates are so distracting and disruptive which can lead to “reduced attention, productivity and effectiveness at tasks.” (The Conversation, 2018) So decide whether you want to ditch the notifications by turning them off or make a conscious decision to not let them disrupt you.
The reality is that social media isn’t leaving anytime soon - technology is becoming more advanced. You can take back control of social media rather than it controlling you. As mentioned above, sometimes our excessive use of social platforms derive from the obsession we have with keeping up with another person’s lifestyle. When we realise that the key here is spending more quality time in real life, this will enable us to create a healthy balance between the two and start to shift our perception of social media.