Change Your Relationship With Social Media
|Photo by https://www.pexels.com/@kseverin|
About 5 years ago I changed my relationship with social media forever. I noticed I was too overwhelmed, stressed and having a hard time focusing on the things I enjoyed the most and I knew that my relationship with social media played a huge part in this outcome.
The reality is, social media isn't going away. Even before The Social Dilemma aired in 2020, the American Journal of Epidemiology had published a report that concluded "A 5,000 person study found that higher social media use correlated with self-reported declines in mental and physical health and life satisfaction." American Journal of Epidemiology, 2017.
Before I even knew that this kind of research was being done, I sensed that social media was playing some part in how I was feeling from day to day and I wanted to take back some control over my own life, emotions and creative sustainability.
It did not happen overnight but the tips I am sharing and some of the positive outcomes have not only made social media a creative ally for me but has assisted me in allowing my own sharing of personal opinions of information (or disinformation) that is ever present on social media platforms much more balanced.
The most important factor was how quickly I began to feel better about my engagement and connection to social media. I am not saying that I do not have moments where I overindulge (I'll admit, there is so much entertainment on all these platforms and you can still get sucked into a mindless scroll). I will say though, that coming out of it and being aware has given me back control over the experience.
Sometimes starting over is better.
I completely overhauled my Facebook account years ago, created an entirely new account, reconnected with friends and family I actually know, discontinued following people that over-posted material that were triggering, followed more creative business and public accounts, and made my personal page public. I know you are thinking, why public? I found that making the page public did 4things.
- First, it meant that I did not have to add friends to my friends list if I did not want to (which you don't have to anyway). With the profile being public, whatever I posted public was for the public, whatever I posted for friends was only for friends. It was a reminder to me mindful of what I posted and for what audience. Do I want everyone to see this? Or do I just want the friends to see it?
- Second, my friends, family and even associate connections became more authentic versus having several hundreds of strangers as "friends".
- Third, my feed changed! I was only following the people and public creative profiles that fueled my creativity and added value to the life I was committed to living.
- Lastly, my personal public profile allowed me to share some of my creative content from other platforms that are for public view. I don't use my personal Facebook for a lot of business posts, however on occasion, I'll share information across multiple platforms. My personal Facebook page being public allows public and friends alike to see those posts.
Not all platforms need to have my personal opinion on everything.
I choose when and what platforms to offer my opinion to. When I really have something to voice, I take time, think about it before offering it publicly. Most of the time I will journal on it or create a blog post. Then, sometimes it's better to hash out personal opinions in a group setting with other trusted group members because let's be real, some of our opinions simply aren't helpful, are only for laughs or triggering itself! It's O.K. to simply acknowledge with a "like" if I like it or scroll pass anything that's only purpose is to provoke negativity and affirm, "not today!"
Posting for "likes" and "follows" alone gets old quick.
Hustle culture has told us that the best profiles or business pages are the ones with the most likes and follows and people get sucked into this race. But I have found that many of the really good content feeds are the ones you personally value and this is all subjective.
I follow people and pages that at times, only have a few hundred followers or likes. Yes, I do feel that for businesses or brands in particular that are choosing to put attention on growing on a certain platform, their goals and actions will likely need to follow some general social media strategies, but for most other uses, we are individuals who just want a creative outlet to share our passions. For me, this is my number one priority! The likes, follows, shares and cool comments are the bonus, not the purpose.
Exploring other platforms for engagement sparks creativity.
If you are growing weary of using the same few platforms that contribute to mindless scrolling and doesn't feed your creative needs, consider shifting to another platform for a while and learn how to use it and engage there.
I started doing this when I felt I had come full circle using other platforms. I felt comfortable with the level of engagement I created but I wanted to create a new experience. So, that's when I decided to revisit using Tumblr for a while and I have been content with it. No, it's not as saturated with real time posts, but it's slower pace gave me the space I needed to post material that I felt could live there a long time and reach a niche audience. My point is, take a chance and try another platform.
Taking a break from social media is not only healthy, it's smart.
You hear people talk about it all the time. I suggest even removing or shuffling out apps from your phone. Every year, particularly with Facebook, I take the app off of my phone from Fall until the following Spring! Choose the platform that you know really eats up your energy and start there. What I like to do is leave a note that tells my friends and family that I will not be as active and how else to reach me if they need to. I have been doing this for 5 years and by the time Spring comes around I am a lot more rested and ready for intentional engagement again.
For additional resource and perspective on this topic you can read, How To Unplug From Technology When You Need a Break- Catherine
Social media isn't our enemy! It does need to be intentionally used and will require self-awareness to identify when you need a complete break or make adjustments.