“With great power comes great responsibility.” ~ Benjamin Franklin Parker
Social media is pervasive. In the past 10 years, it has come to dominate nearly every aspect of both public and private discourse. The power of its influence is impossible to quantify, or to deny. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen all too often in arenas ranging from middle school bullying all the way up to Presidential tweeting, not all of that power is used wisely or for good.
With the list below, we’re hoping to provide some strategies to help you cope with our daily social media onslaught. Perhaps not all of these strategies will work for you, but they’ve sure helped us manage the electronic firehose just a little bit better!
1. Build a Better Feed
While cruising your favorite feed — stop right where you are and Marie Kondo the situation by asking yourself — does this feed bring me joy? How do I feel when I engage with this content? Am I inspired, am I happy, is my life enriched in some way? Or do I feel sorrow or sadness that my life doesn’t look like the one I’m scrolling through? Build a social media feed that fills you up and reminds you of the very real joy that exists in your life and in the greater global community.
2. Take a Break
Research has found that the more time we spend on social media the more likely we are to feel depressed. There is also a direct correlation between the quantity of time spent on social media and our feelings of happiness and stress. In other words, if you have been feeling anxious, depressed or stressed out, it might be a good time to take a little social media detox. At first, it might feel unusual, but you might find your overall mood start to improve as you quiet the digital noise and make room for peace.
3. Wait Different
The next time you’re standing in line waiting for the server to bring your food, walking from your car to wherever you’re going next, or sitting in a waiting room — look around. Notice how we wait. Most often you’ll see everyone around you nose-down in their devices. Everyone in their own world of curated content and not really in the physical environment they share. It’s interesting to wonder how these habits are changing our culture — and changing us. My perception is that we’re losing the ability to “entertain ourselves” — we can’t think of how to pass the time unless we are lead by the nature of our social media feeds. We no longer stare off into space or leave a whole lot of room for contemplation or dreaming. We are continually and consistently distracted. Try waiting differently and see if you notice a change in the way you feel.
4. Store Phones During Meals
Findings have revealed that people who use mobile devices while dining enjoy themselves less than those who put their phones away. So keep your phone away while dining and just enjoy your meal. Same goes at home — everyone in our family is required to put their cell phone in a white plastic bowl that I put a lid on and shove into a drawer. It’s not always popular or appreciated, but it feels like more and more of a necessity. We have to learn how to live face-to-face, communication-enriched lives. Until we are able to prevent ourselves from looking at our phones every time it buzzes or beeps or every time we just need to pass the time it becomes tricky to break the habit. The people in my family seem unable or unwilling to resist the temptation to look, watch, or “just check” so the consequence is my help — and the bowl with the lid.
5. Phones Sleep In the Kitchen
(As long as you don’t.) Studies suggest that sleeping near a phone may impact your ability to sleep. Allow yourself to go to bed without your phone. By removing the phone from the bedroom and placing it to charge in another room such as the kitchen, it is possible to reduce its impact on your sleep. If you must, turn your ringer on — just like the olden days when the house phone rang if there was an emergency.
Try a Digital Cleanse
A social media detox doesn’t have to be permanent or last forever. But… wouldn’t it be interesting to see how you feel without it? Consider it similar to a sugar cleanse — it’s tricky at first but each day gets easier than the one before. Start small and detox over the weekend or during a vacation — this means not posting every grammable moment or creating post-worthy scenarios. Try reconnecting with your thoughts, the people you are with, the people you meet, or yourself.
7. Use Your Digital Time for Good Instead
One particular piece of data in Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report for 2018 reveals that over the past year, the average adult in the US spent almost six hours per day on the Internet. The largest portion of that time is spent browsing social media, checking emails, reading entertainment articles, watching videos, and shopping. What if you used some of those six hours in a different way? If you haven’t tried this idea it might be just the thing to help you feel better while on social media. Get involved in a charity, or group for good, volunteer, organize, help. It might sound too “out there” or impractical — but the benefits you feel when you help someone in need are hard to quantify. I describe it as “feeling all shined up.” Your inner light has a chance to come out and best represent you — that’s what the world then sees and reflects back on you. It’s the best possible medicine.
8. Remember, Content Is Curated
Everything we see is an element of story-telling. We see what the owner of the feed wants us to see. And while what we see is probably “real” it’s also probably not the whole story. Perfection is an illusion — it’s not a real thing — ever. So if you hear your inner voice saying, “wow they have a perfect life — I wish I had that life” remind yourself your glimpse has been carefully crafted to reveal a moment… a glimpse.
9. Catch Your Comparing Tendencies
Scientists have discovered that most people who use social media end up comparing themselves to the lives of everyone they know. The problem with this is that it can have a serious impact on your self-esteem. For example, if “everyone you know” is doing something you’re not you might feel isolated and lonely. Break away from this unhealthy cycle by catching yourself when you start to compare. Put your phone done immediately and don’t pick it back up until you’ve identified a list of things that are wonderful about your life and your story.
10. Do More Yoga
Can you even imagine being on your phone during a yoga class? The response you would feel from others in the class would be palpable — you’d feel it on your skin and in your bones. Yoga is sacred for many — and so deeply personal — the cultural norms of a yoga class dictate that being on a phone would be highly inappropriate, distracting, and unwelcome. Just look at how smart yoga continues to be. We are able to resist the urge to “just peek” or “just check” during yoga because we are aware of others and respectful of the space. Once again yoga is a metaphor for the rest of our lives. Just as you practice being off your phone during a yoga class so too can you practice off your mat. The more yoga you do the more resilience you will build to puting your phone down.