Social media: it’s almost impossible for many of us to imagine a life without. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, Reddit, TikTok… You name it. There are so many different platforms, each with their own specific characteristics, each with their own advantages. Each with their own profiles, ways of engagement, and interactive user bases. Some love it, some hate it. But nevertheless, it’s important to sometimes reassess our social media behaviour.
Everything that we encounter in life leaves a mark, and has an influence on us to some extend. Unfortunately, not all our experiences are controllable. Especially those that we encounter ”in real life” are not solely dependent on our individual choices, although these experiences can also somewhat be modified and adjusted. However, that’s outside the scope of this writing. What I do want to talk about is how social media influences our experiences, and how we can influence our experiences obtained through social media.
Through social media we expose ourselves to images, videos, articles, branding, opinions, etc. These are dependent on the type of social media platform we engage in, but also on the people or specific content that we follow.
Truth is, (most) humans are social animals. We enjoy the company of others, we appreciate engagement and conversations. Being socially connected increases comfort and joy, and prevents feelings of loneliness. However, as social media become more and more part of our everyday lives, our awareness of potential harms from social media engagement also increases.
So here’s a question: do you think your social media engagement leaves you with mainly positive experiences?
Of course, social media can have many positive influences and actually be beneficial for social interaction, experienced connection with others, and thus to the overall feeling of well-being and happiness. It allows to stay in touch with family and friends, meet new like-minded people, promote a business or important causes, express creativity, etc.
However, let’s be real and honest here. How often do you simply end up comparing yourself with others? Do you feel less because of what you see other people are doing/buying/experiencing? Are you insecure about your appearance and where life is heading because it all does seem picture perfect for others?
Studies show that there is a strong link between (heavy) social media use and increased risk for depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Negative experiences might become inevitable, and lead to feelings of isolation or insecurities about your life or appearance, or on the other hand major feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out). Social media might become an escape as a security blanket to not having to face real-world situation. The idea of having to create a picture perfect life might cause overly self-absorption. And of course there’s also the risk of being exposed to a type of cyberbullying. But most of all:
Social media can never replace real world, human-to-human connections.
Don’t let your social media presence drag you into a downwards spiral. In stead, be critical towards your own behaviour. Sounds easy, right? But where to start?
First ask yourself: what social media platforms are you currently registered with? Which ones do you login to on a daily base? How many hours per day are you engaging in each of these platforms? Do you really leave social media feeling better about yourself, the world, and those around you?
These first steps come from the general rule that in order to change our behaviour, we first have to gain a better understanding of what exactly is our behaviour and come to understand the main motivations on why to change. Only then can you actually start to implement durable changes. Here are some suggestions when it comes to social media:
- Reduce your time spend online.
Honestly, there are many possible ways you can reduce your overall time spend online: disable your notifications, even delete the apps completely. Don’t use your phone during social events, but really be fully aware in the moment. Don’t take your phone to bed: not only beneficial for reducing your screen time, but also potentially beneficial for your quality of sleep.
- Change the focus of your social media.
In stead of you being the focus point, maybe you have a special talent you can make central on your social media pages. Think about art, music, poetry, but also maybe you’re a genius when it comes to making up certain work-outs for people, or tips and tricks on how to go about daily life. The options are endless but all come down to this: shift away from a pure focus on you to what you do and can attribute to other people’s lives.
- Spend more time with offline friends.
Think about it: how often do you cancel on meeting up with friends because you have no time. And how often would it really not take that much time to quickly catch up. Doesn’t even need to be face-to-face, a phone or video call is such a great opportunity to connect also. Safe time browsing and start spending that time on real connections.
These are only 3 quick points. Obviously, everyone is different and has different needs or wishes. However, it is good to realise that social media have a huge impact on our daily lives, not always in a positive manner. And only be critically looking into our own behaviour can we see the patterns that slowly take over our daily lives.
Now, will you adjust your social media behaviour?