Nowadays, if you’re not on social media, you feel like you’re not truly living in the 21st century. Everything from businesses to personal and professional relationships, social media has a strong presence—and with that, a luring temptation to spend even more time using its features.
While it still provides platforms where we can connect with friends and family, it has exponentially grown to an online version of the Vegas strip: advertisements, videos, and links inviting us to turn our attention to the next latest and greatest trend or product. According to a recent article by Forbes, having a potent social media strategy is critical for businesses and consumers alike. We make a tremendous amount of purchasing decisions based on content provided to us via social media channels.
Likewise, we also tend to “follow the flock” when it comes to new trends, ideas, fashion, and unfortunately, even politics. While the positive side of social media is that we now have more freedom of expression, the shadow side is still just as present: we can easily lose our sense of individuality. It’s a slippery slope—and one that often takes a bit of time and consequence to realize and change. This is why the term “social media addiction” has taken root in the health and wellness industry as one of the causes of mental health issues.
Social Media Addiction and How It Affects Health
How we use social media has drastically changed since the dawn of websites like Facebook. Initially, Facebook’s platform was a simple way of connecting with friends and family and posting cheesy pictures or status updates on Facebook’s “wall.”
Over time, however, with the emergence of a more picture-oriented platform like Instagram, we upped the ante. This is where the slippery slope emerged, and we’re still dealing with it presently.
Take a look at some of the most popular Instagram profiles today. You’ll likely see a pattern of manicured photos and perfect layouts, followed by millions of users. This has become an “Instagram goal,” and it perpetuates the idea that beautiful pictures equate to a happy user. We know that’s simply not the case, but this mentality and desire to create a perfect life online for all to see is feeding depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Likewise, it’s causing us to lose our sense of authenticity and realness because the “real world” problems don’t make for beautiful social media posts. Instead, we hide behind the beauty that’s only covering up our sadness, grief, or loneliness. Because we’ve carefully created our online world, we’ve stepped out of our real one. Social media addiction is this practice of escapism.
So, how do you take back the reins of your life and curb your time on social media (and stop social media addiction)? Here are some steps to get started.
1. Think About Why You’d Like to Be on Social Media
Everything we do in life is about intention: why do you want to do something? What will it bring you? The same goes for social media use. It may be silly to ask this question when thinking about a Facebook or Instagram account, but if you want to truly control your social media (instead of the other way around), asking this question may truly be eye-opening.
Do you want to just keep in touch with friends, or do you want to promote your business? Getting to the crux of why you’re online will help you clearly mark your time on social media effectively and eliminate everything else.
2. Be Meticulous About Who You Follow and what you post and share
Attention is your greatest currency. Read that again.
Everything that you click on or “like” becomes a thread in the tapestry of what comes back to you on social media newsfeeds. You want to create the kind of information spread that works for you, your needs, and your time. So, often, we impulsively follow people who may not be serving our best interests.
Give yourself permission to clean those contacts out every once in a while! It’s okay to disagree with someone. Instead of plummeting into a rabbit hole of social media thread arguments, unfollow anyone who you don’t connect with. It’s much better for your mental health and helps you get rid of social media addiction.
Likewise, be meticulous about what you share. Are you posting misinformation yourself? Just like you are planning on cleaning up your contacts list, someone who follows you may be thinking of doing the same. Make it a priority to share and post things that not only have significance to you but also serve others.
3. Curb the Time You Spend Online
If you have a laundry list of things to get done but have spent the last three hours scrolling your newsfeed, it’s time to close the app or the computer. Set a timer on your phone, if that’s what it takes to solve your social media addiction.
Once you begin the practice of detaching from being online so much, you’ll notice that you get so much time back! This time has always existed, but you were just using it poorly. It’s not that you don’t have enough time—it’s just that you spend too much time scrolling online instead of being productive.
4. Change Your Notification Settings
If your productivity is suffering because you’re constantly distracted by the pings from your notifications, there are ways to turn those notifications off in your settings. Better yet, you can always delete the apps from your phone and devices and resolve to check your social media notifications on your desktop. This way, you can get back to finishing your work without facing the temptation of checking your messages.
5. Not Everything Has to Be Posted and Shared
It often feels like we’re in a perpetual case of “FOMO” when it comes to posting on social media. If the Superbowl came and went and you didn’t post anything at all, will the world continue to spin? Of course.
We don’t have any social obligation to our followers to keep them abreast of every single event that happens in our life. These are choices that we must make consciously and in alignment with our desires.
Think about the last concert (in the pre-COVID world) you went to—did you immediately post bits of the concert to social media or snapped and uploaded a selfie of you and your friends?
These are habitual things that we don’t even think about, which brings me to the final point…
6. It’s Okay to Put Your Phone Down and Enjoy Life
In fact, this one very simple point could truly help you cut that social media addiction! Precious moments of your life are one in a million—like seeing a shooting star or catching the smile of your favorite person. These moments are so fragile, and they never happen the same way twice in your lifetime.
Don’t run towards your phone to capture that moment. Capture it instead with your eyes and with your heart. Let it become a sweet memory. Enjoy the moment you’re so keen on sharing with others and instead, prioritize sharing it with yourself.
Social media addiction, when left unchecked, can lead us to depression and lack of self-worth and authenticity. If we “follow the flock” in search of creating a perfect online life, we’re stepping further away from being ourselves. This brings about a slew of consequences, which can snowball over time and lead to worse obstacles in our lives.
When we finally learn how to use social media, to what extent, and with what intention in mind, we can take control over it before it takes control over us.
More on Social Media Addiction
Featured photo credit: Ryan Plomp via unsplash.com
|||^||Forbes: The Power of Social Media to Capture Today’s Consumer|
|||^||Huffpost: The Power of Social Media|
|||^||NCBI: Online Social Networking and Mental Health|
|||^||Sage Journals: Users on Social Network Sites—Flight from Reality and Its Effects on Acceptance of Social Network Advertising: A Gratification Perspective|