Most people won’t confess how much social media means, or has meant, to them. For me, it all started with Friendster and Facebook, back when it was all about pokes and superpokes. Today, I use social media to help spread information (the accurate kind, obviously), and promote my work and some of the organizations and businesses I’m involved in.
For a lot of us, having a virtual version of ourselves has been easy, thanks to smartphones and wireless internet. These days, there isn’t any post that goes unread, and no photo that’s not “liked.”
Social media has changed the way we communicate, and our desire to stay in touch all the time inevitably fell into our already fast-growing pile of needs and wants.
I was never the kind to be glued to social media all day, but last year, I decided to devote only five minutes twice or thrice a day to check on my feeds, especially when Facebook and Twitter turned into a cesspool of hate and negativity at the height of election season.
And let’s face it—it’s difficult to keep up a decent conversation at lunch when you’re attempting to take a perfect shot of that plate of pasta.
While social media has a wealth of advantages that make our lives comfortable—some even make money out of it—it can also get quite addictive. If you’re thinking of taking a breather from social media, chances are you didn’t make this decision lightly. Frankly, it’s difficult to attempt such a feat, especially when everything is now designed to ensure you remain plugged in 24/7.
The real world
No one would expect you to totally drop your routine, as it’s pretty much become a standard form of communication. But if you need to ease up a bit, here’s how to try at least to put down your gadgets for a while so you can start paying attention to the real world around you.
Put your phone away at mealtimes.
When you’re out with friends and family, you shouldn’t be affected by any pangs of FOMO (fear of missing out) anyway, so be in the moment and appreciate the company at hand. There’s nothing more rude than someone who completely ignores what you say in favor of staring at their Twitter newsfeed. Besides, isn’t it amazing how much you have to catch up on when you don’t know what your friends are doing every second of the day?
Don’t take your gadgets to bed.
This might be a tough habit to break, even for me, since I read with my Kindle before going to sleep, but there’s reasoning behind it beyond detoxing from social media. Studies have shown that radiation emitted by electronics disrupts sleep.
Schedule your posts.
If your work or business is linked to your social media accounts, plan your posts in advance so you won’t have to be glued to your accounts 24/7.
Act before you stalk.
For those who like to lurk, stalking becomes habitual. Try something new instead; it’s harder to check Instagram when you’re involved in a new hobby, as opposed to staying at home.
Go old school.
Most of today’s gadgets can organize your schedule and remind you of appointments and birthdays, but sometimes, there’s nothing like handwritten note cards and actually writing down reminders and things to do. It’s liberating to cross out things you’ve accomplished for the day.
Edit, edit, edit.
The world is chaotic as it is—spare yourself the unnecessary stress and unfollow or hide people whose posts or rants annoy you. They’ll just ruin your day.
Think before oversharing.
Lastly, in case you’re not aware, what you post, tag and search on the internet are relentlessly collected across all devices, services and accounts, and are analyzed, shared and sold. Notice how some hotel ads pop up on your feed after typing “hotels in New York” on Google search?
So if you’re freaked out by the digital trail you leave behind, manage your account’s privacy settings, protect your personal data and choose what you post, and whom you share them with.
So while social media can be beneficial to our lives, like in anything else, balance is key. Spending less time online lets one do more and appreciate the time spent with those who really matter, not just those who press the “like” button.