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How I Stopped Letting Social Media Manipulate Me (And Why You Should Do It Too)

How I Stopped Letting Social Media Manipulate Me (And Why You Should Do It Too)

As a blog editor, getting inspirations from different sources including the social media is simply what I do every day. I love reading all the interesting posts and videos on Facebook and looking at the amazing photos on Instagram; they’re all stimulating and can always inspire me the next topics to work on.

But there’s a downside for visiting the social media too often — you somehow get addicted to it easily. One more photo, a few more posts, and maybe a few more videos, and that’s how I’d just keep scrolling down the feed on Facebook at 12am.

It’s not healthy, for my eyes, my brain and my soul. I knew it, but it’s just hard for me to stop checking it so often because it’s really what I needed to do, it’s for my work, and it’s not really taking me that much time…

Well, that’s obviously an excuse.

Because as I was on Facebook, I saw the whereabouts of my friends and the exciting lives they’re leading. I also reacted to different kinds of things like the funny videos, the cute pet images and the latest music videos etc.

I couldn’t help but always craving for the latest updates of everything, and I felt like what others had in their lives were the things that’s missing in mine — that’s when I knew it’s time for a social media detox.

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We get triggered easily by what the social media shows us, leaving us little time to process our emotions, especially the negative ones.

Even though you somehow know that most people only show the world what they want others to know and how they want to be seen in the social media, you can’t help comparing their lives with yours the moment their stories pop up in front of you — being sweet with their partner, hanging out with a bunch of fun friends or traveling around the world.

If those people are your friends, maybe it’s easier to know if the pictures are a lie or not; but a lot of times, we’re following public figures we don’t actually know in person, and we have no idea how these people’s real lives are. That’s when we easily fall into the trap of believing in everything they portray in social media and letting them make us feel bad about ourselves.

Our brain is wired to want to be “in the know”, so we’re fearful of missing out stuff if we’ve got used to knowing everything in the social media.[1]

I guess that’s what happened to my brain when I went on the social media too often. I didn’t want to miss a thing.

The more I wanted to get to know the latest stuff, the more I couldn’t put off my phone to just browse over my Facebook and Instagram. It’s like an addiction and I felt bad about it because I didn’t feel like I was in control of this. I didn’t feel good about it.

Then I remember someone said to me before,

If there’s anything that makes you feel bad, get rid of it. Period.

So I decided to stop being passive about what the social media gave me.

The first step to make me feel better was to get rid of the things (and people) who made me feel bad.

The friends who we never interact with in real life or online, the friends who are just posting too much about their personal life, and the public figures or pages who may just be exaggerating too much of their lives or spreading negativity around, I unfollowed them.

Then, I muted all the social apps’ notifications and hid them inside a folder on the last page of my phone.

Yes, this is what I do:

    The benefit of doing this is that every time when you unlock your phone, you’re on the first page of it and you don’t get the temptation to randomly go over any of the social platforms so easily.

    This really works for me.

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    I also set social media time limits; but instead of just restricting the time of using it, I kept the time without social media interesting.

    Instead of setting rules like 1 hour of social media usage per day or social-media free weekends, I focused more on how to make the time so interesting and fulfilling that I wouldn’t have time to check on the social media.

    Activities like hanging out with friends, talking or dinning with your family, reading a novel or playing sports or playing an instrument almost need your full attention, leaving you no time to go on Instagram or Facebook.

    Whenever I hang out with friends, I put my phone inside my bag and try to enjoy the moments I have with them. And do you know what’s the best part of this? When you’re not taking out your phone to check out the updates on Facebook, your friends do that too!

    I do have a stricter rule I set for myself though, it’s to keep my phone away from bed so I know when it’s time to sleep I should really go to sleep.

    I’ve stopped letting the social media control my life, and I can still get writing inspirations from it.

    You may ask, “what about your work? what about the inspirations?”

    I’m not quitting social media, I’m just limiting my use of it and its bad influence on me.

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    Social media is not evil, it’s how we use it that makes it have bad influence on us.

    Since I’ve already unfollowed the things and people that would make me feel bad, I can focus more on what really matters to me — be it the news, information, knowledge, and even people.

    And I no longer have the urge to never stop scrolling the feed on Facebook or Instagram because I don’t really have that much time to restlessly looking at those things. I have an interesting life with lots of real and amazing friends, a lovely family and plenty of hobbies.

    I didn’t think I could make it but I really did. And I didn’t even need to completely quit it to take control of the use of social media. Try it, I think you can make it too!

    Reference

    More by this author

    Anna Chui

    Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

    It’s Okay To Be Envious As Long As You’re Not Jealous The Jeopardy of Taking Others’ Opinions Seriously life is pain Life Is Pain: Why a Life Without Pain Guarantees True Suffering Why the Conscientious Mind Is a Successful Mind What Is The Secret To Convincing Someone To Change Their Minds?

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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