Do you pick up your phone to check the weather so you can pick a suitable outfit ( I live in the UK) for the day? 40 mins later,you are down a rabbit hole of stories, quotes and pictures? Yup,I am speaking for myself and if this is not you I need to learn some more tips from you . I know I probably spend more time on social media than I should .Instagram and more recently twitter ( the comments and replies on Nigerian twitter are so hilarious) are my go to’s these days.For some it’s Facebook,snapchat,YouTube some people are even attached to LinkedIn(is LinkedIn really social media though ?)
On the other side of the the spectrum are people who cannot stand social media. After a series of scandals,quite a large number of people deleted their social media accounts. The rise in social media use has been attributed as a root cause for so many societal ills ranging from mental health issues to bullying & being a threat to democracy with allegations of election tampering.
In so many ways,I believe social media deserves the bad rap it often gets.But like a lot of things in life, there are two sides to the coin.For every I con I can think of with social media there are some pros
Fake news is very concerning as a lot of people often seek to find news or articles on social media that confirms biases that they already have. But even with fake news,one can’t deny how much social media has helped to democratise the mainstream media.
Social connections/interactions are gradually being lost with people replacing face to face interactions with interacting with people through a screen. But even with the problems that poses,one can’t discount the support and safe spaces that social media has created for some people.Some online forums have been places of solace for people at vulnerable times where there might have no been physical support previously .There have also been so many connections that have been made through social media that have turned into positive thriving fulfilling relationships offline.
It could be said that social media could hamper productivity as it’s really addictive and could be a distraction during the working day. That said more and more businesses are tapping into the social media space as a way to market,retain and foster customer relationships. Social media has also been a godsend for small businesses who might have not been able to compete with larger organisations in the past due to marketing costs. The amount of jobs that it has created can also not be ignored.
Social media can be what what you make of it. I choose to believe that it is like any other tool that had been created by man.People rarely see it that way but statistics show that one of the riskiest things which we all more or less do everyday is get into a moving vehicle I.e car/bus train etc. A car is a really dangerous tool and quite a lot of people die in motor accidents despite the fact that we need it to transport usvaround .What often determines how well use this tool to move from A to B is determined by how well you mitigate the risks that it poses.
So while I get the concerns of the ‘Social media is ruining humanity’ brigade I also think we can personally mitigate those risks in our lives by how we use it and whether it is adds any value to us or diminishes our quality of life.
Below are some tips that I am still trying (and fail at sometimes) to make sure that we can navigate and gain something from a phenomenon that I think has come to stay whether we like it or not ;
- Monitor your usage: there is a saying ‘we manage what we monitor’ and i found this to be so true. So many phones have features that can give you a summary of how much time you spend on each app. Sometime last year I tracked my phone use-age for the first time. Oh dear,let’s just not go there, I deleted the data cos it was just so embarrassing. It was however the first step in owning up to the fact that I needed to change and reduce how much time I spent on social media sites.
- Set a limit: As soon as you monitor(and get shocked like I did) set a limit.Don’t make it vague e.g ‘ spend less time on instagram’ instead ‘ 30 mins at any one instance’ or ‘ 2 hours a day maximum’ I know this can be tricky especially for those who run a business of some sort but it is doable.Go a step further by actually putting things that will limit it eg putting your phone away,logging out of the app,installing apps that kick you off after the time limit has elapsed etc
- Curate your social media feeds: This one goes without saying. So yes ,I know scrolling mindlessly is bad but sometimes it can’t be helped(I am actually praying about this LOL).But for me it became,WHAT am I scrolling through? I unfollowed certain pages,intentionally do not follow gossipy type forums/pages and make sure that pages,people that I follow are people that link into interests that I know add value to my life. So when I do find myself scrolling, I am picking up some information,I am being inspired, I am being ministered to etc So even though that time could have been used elsewhere ,some of the time it is not actually wasted. Last week I got a tip on a food item and used it for cooking this weekend. See it’s not always bad.
- Figure out what you want it to do for you: This one sounds a bit deep and cliche doesn’t it ? What’s she on about you might think? But I am sure that you agree that not knowing why you are using something often leads to you misusing it. Is social media just for leisure,building your business or your brand,a way to make connections,a tool to gather information etc None of these reasons are right or wrong but determining what you want it to be for you maybe a good way to determine how to structure the first 3 tips. It makes sense that a business user spends 7 hours a day on social media but is that really a good use of time if it’s just for leisure? Again it’s left for individuals to determine for themselves what they are willing to use it for.Asking that question leads to clarity of purpose. It also makes you question yourself on what content you also actually post on social media; do I want to impress or do I want to impact?
- Don’t substitute other interactions with social media: I like or commented on her post yesterday. So that means we are in touch right ?Yes & No. At least I know she is alive and can see her even if I can’t see her BUT do I really know if she is ok? I was so guilty of not keeping in touch with my friends by thinking ‘at least we talk on social media’ . Now while there is nothing wrong with that and we all know adulting can be hectic, it is not a substitute for those other interactions with our loved ones. Social media can create the illusion of ‘connection’ but it is worth having it at back of your mind that sometimes everything is not always as it seems. So call your friend,go out for a coffee,go visiting etc Those things might not be as frequent as the social media connection but they do have their place.
- Resist competition & comparison: Everyone says this one especially on social media ( irony eh). Don’t compare bla bla but it is HARD.Never in the history of man has it been so busy to see how much of a failure that you are compared to everyone else. My natural disposition is not competitive with .Not comparing myself to others sort of comes with how I am wired but even I struggle with not comparing myself to others on social media. You mean this is her 6th holiday this year and I have not even had one in 5 years? Wow I am so poor,i need a richer husband. Just joking but you get my drift on the thoughts that do cross our minds .And if most people are honest with themselves,it happens to us all.Implementing tip no 5 though lends itself to this one because if you have set the boundaries of what social Media is for you,you resist the urge to compete. You begin to define what matters to you and if taking a holiday matters to you,her 6th holiday could be the motivation for you to start saving for your only holiday in 5 years. It also allows you to define what you are there for and in a way allows you to not distracted by all the noise. Yes I call social media a noisy place!
I have quite a no of other tips but trying to keep my blog posts a bit shorter( I got some feedback on length ) so these are the 6 that I think that are the most important and doable for everyone .I know you probably got directed here from a social media site but I am hoping that we all find the balance to it that will enrich and not deduct from our lives.
Please do share your comments and thoughts. I would particularly love to read any other tips on how you manage social media. Also please do share this blog with others. Thank you for reading.
Quote photo credits- Pinterest