There is no getting away from the fact that we are living in a technologically advanced world where social media plays a massive role in most of our lives now. It’s hard to remember what life was like without it. When I was in school mobile phones didn’t exist, let alone Facebook and it is incredible how technology has changed the world as we know it over the past generation.
Social media can, at times, be brilliant. Keeping connected with friends and family all over the world at the touch of a button is definitely a positive thing and for me personally, has been a godsend. Being originally from West Wales, having studied in Manchester and since having lived in a lot of places, social media has played a massive role in keeping in touchwith friends and family.
However, my personal journey with social media has not always been a positive one and I know many of you feel the same. I have such a love-hate relationship with social media, on one hand I am happy to keep in contact with old friends and family but on the other hand it is not always good for my self-esteem, productivity and mental health.
My Personal Issues with Social Media
These are the main issues I have personally found with social media and tips I have found useful for creating a more balanced and positive social media experience.
When we are on social media, often we are surrounded by images of people seemingly living their best lives. Whether it be snaps of perfect families, beautiful models posing by the beach, holiday photos, seeing other people’s constant high achievements or similar scenario it can be difficult not to compare your own lives with others and to feel inferior in comparison. From experience, I know how this can really exacerbate mental health issues, especially if you suffer from anxiety or low self-esteem like I have done in the past.
What I’ve realised over the past few years is that other people’s “perfect” lives are merely an illusion; perfection does not exist. Even for the mega rich and famous, I’m thinking Beyonce here as a perfect example, her Instagram feed is full of picture-perfect images of her life, yet she has had well documented problems behind the scenes which you would never see of Instagram!
Remember you only see a snippet of someone’s life, just that one moment on their social media. You do not see their insecurities, tears, problems, illnesses, pain or suffering. Most people hide these and don’t present how they are really feeling on social media!
What I’ve learned is to be grateful for what you have, rather than focus on what you don’t have. (Gratitude is another blog post entirely maybe one for next year?) If you need time out, take time out, do this and don’t be afraid to unfollow people or pages who you struggle with for whatever reason.
- Social Media Addiction
I challenge you to go 3 hours without social media, can you do it? I tried this out as an experiment a few weeks ago. I went for three hours without looking at any form of Social media. I realised that I mindlessly went to my phone roughly every 15- 30 minutes during this time to click onto Facebook or Instagram. I did not go on it for the full duration although I would have done at least 10 times had I not been conscious of it. It was an automatic response, a habit that has been ingrained and I wasn’t entirely aware of. This really scared me as I realise that I am most definitely addicted to social media! I then went one step further and went 24 hours without social media and to my surprise, I did this with relative ease. It just proved to me how unimportant most of the content is and how you can live your live very happily without checking on Facebook every 30 minutes!
When I heard that the average person looks at their phones 10000 times a year, I was shocked by this initially, but not anymore.
The take home from this for me during the first social media experiment was that in those three hours, I had 8 notifications on Facebook; NOT ONE OF THESE WERE IMPORTANT. I did not need to know any of this information, but I would have checked the notifications mindlessly when they came through anyway. This was a real lesson for me. I subsequently went through all of my notifications and pages and switched them all off apart from a few key pages I enjoy and get real value from.
- Time Wasting
For me personally, I can lose so much time when mindlessly scrolling through social media. Not so much Facebook anymore, but I’m a sucker for Instagram stories and can spend ages watching videos of celebrities, vloggers and friends. The truth of the matter is that if you have nothing better to do then this is fine but if it is a form of procrastination, avoiding the important jobs, then this is not really ok. I’ve had to really restrict my time on Instagram as I can get carried away and can waste time! If you want to get stuff done, stay away from social media! Even if you say to yourself, “I’ll do my work for 90 minutes, then I can have a break” and browse Facebook then, this is a much more productive way of working.
Finding Social Media Balance
So, these are the steps I’ve personally taken to help improve my social media experience and to minimise the negative impact it has on my life. Why not have a look and implement a few into your daily routine?
- If you feel that you are using social media too much like I was, then try a social media detox, whether it be 3 hours or a whole weekend without social media. Whatever you do, try to take regular conscious phone breaks away from your phone and regular social media Put these social media breaks in your diary and stick to it! I also use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature on my iPhone to have some time out and this works well for me.
- Remove Facebook/Instagram apps from your phone so they aren’t as easily accessible,I have done this with Facebook, but I’m still working on Instagram (I love Instagram!)
- Unfollow negative accounts or people who provoke a negative response from you,for whatever reason. This is self-care and is important for your mental health.
- Likewise, be sure to follow positive accounts who you get a real buzz from following as they ooze positivity and are good for your mental health. A few positive pages I like are: 1. ActionFor Happiness 2. Positively Present 3. Ferne Cotton 4. Power of Positivity 5. Calm 6. Headspace 7. Project Happiness.
- Sort out your notifications! I did this and oh my word I feel so much better forswitching most of them off! This has made such a difference for me personally.
- Do not have your phone at the dinner tableor when you’re eating.
- Try not to have your phone by your bed at night and do not look at your social media in between sleeping.Try not to look at social media last thing at night or first thing when you get
- Use social media for positive purposes, try not to get involved in any negativity or drama even if you are fighting for a worthy cause you truly believe in. (not easy I know). I need to work on this one!
- Lastly, don’t lose sight of your real life! Life is for living and if you open your eyes there is a beautiful world to be seen out there away from the world of social media
Finding a balance with social media is not easy and whilst it does need to be celebrated, it is important that we use it in a way that is positive for our own needs and does not affect our “real lives”.
What do you think we can do to improve our social media/real life balance? I would love to hear your personal experiences and any of your tips.
Anyway, take care lovelies and see you soon x