Remember when you were younger and you called your friends (on the landline phone) to see if they wanted to play? What about sending a letter to your cousin who lived in another state? As time passed we started emailing and texting those same people to stay in touch. Then came Facebook in 2004 and Twitter shortly after in 2006 and our lives were changed forever.
I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Now you can hop onto your favorite network and have a back-and-forth with your friend or cousin in a matter of seconds. There are many reasons this is amazing, but it can get out of hand quickly without you even realizing it. These platforms infiltrate our lives and attention and, before we know it, they are causing FOMO and making us depressed and jealous of everyone else’s lives. They also cultivate judgement of other’s lives, which isn’t healthy either.
A good majority of social media use is simply a time filler. You have a couple seconds in line at the grocery store, while your spouse shops, or before you head to work so you jump on and see what’s up. Before you know it you are sucked into something and have completely lost your focus.
Does it really matter that you are up to date on your friend’s lives? For a long time I felt like I had to read everything that everyone was saying, everyday – but then I stopped to think about it – and realized that was insane. It’s good to stay in touch, but what I was really saying was that other people’s lives were more important than my own. Is that true? I know it’s not for me, and I don’t think anyone would say it is, so why do our actions not align with our words?
Social media makes it easy to participate and that’s where the downfall is. It’s easy to do and, in most cases, much easier than what we should be doing, so we fall into the trap of binging on it whenever we get a free moment. But you know what? You don’t get an award for being the “most up to date” on everyone’s lives. Sure you know what Shane is up to and that Anne’s kid just graduated from high school, but does that matter? It’s a bunch of useless knowledge that your brain is now storing. What better ways could your brain be used besides storing irrelevant data on other people’s lives?
I want to encourage you to re-think your use of social media and use it to cultivate a place to connect with your tribe and add value. After all, if you aren’t adding value, you are adding noise to an already noisy world. Less is more. That means less networks you participate in, less friends you connect with on the networks, less time spent on the networks, and less posting crap that doesn’t matter.
- Intentionally decide which platforms you are going to use, which people you are going to connect with, and how much time you will spend on the networks.
- Before you post something ask yourself if it needs to be said. Could somebody benefit from what you are putting out there or are you just venting? Think before you type and focus on adding value to your audience.
- Make your own life your highest priority instead of everyone else’s.
- Fill your newly found free time with something more important to you. What is something you can do to work toward your long term goals and dreams instead of jumping on Facebook or Twitter? If you don’t know yet then stop and listen to your inner self. In time, the answers will reveal themselves.
- Know that some people will take un-friending personally. Though I think that says more about them than you, it’s up to you to decide if you want to make it known ahead of time that you are intentionally re-creating your social media life. If you would still like to stay in touch, simply provide alternative forms of communication (email address, cell phone number, address) to those people. Remember that the fact that you aren’t online friends doesn’t mean you can’t still be real life friends.
If this sounds like a good idea, but you still aren’t sure where to start I recommend choosing a set time and duration each day that you are going to check in to social media (for example every day at 4pm for 30 minutes). Set a timer ahead of time and enjoy the time you spend on the platforms. When the timer goes off, you are done.
Making a game of it adds an element of fun and, by only checking things once a day, it makes you look forward to the time and appreciate it more. By no means am I saying you shouldn’t participate on the networks at all, I’m simply advocating for intentionally crafting how you spend your time on social media. Be proud of yourself for caring enough about you, your time, and your life to make these hard changes and stick to them.
Have you overhauled your social media life and lived to tell about it? 😉 I’d love to hear your story!