Do you ever find yourself with a severe case of jealousy or FOMO because of what you see on social media? Do you waste away hours just scrolling though your newsfeed, only to feel more disconnected and dissatisfied? You’re not alone.
In this constant, noisy digital world, it is important to put your feet on solid ground and learn how to best engage with social media. Here are 6 tips to build more healthy social media habits in your life.
1. Set Daily Limits
How much unnecessary time do you spend on social media every day? Look at your life and your social media needs, then set a goal for your daily limit. Whatever your guidelines are, write them down and put them in a place you see often.
There are some great tools out there that can help you track and limit how much time you spend on social media daily:
RescueTime (for desktop)
Moment (iOS only)
QualityTime (Android only)
Break Free (iOS and Android)
Time Out (for desktop)
Once you set limits and commit yourself to staying within those boundaries, you’ll be amazed at how refreshed you feel.
2. Remember Reality: Life is Messy
Let’s be honest: the lives we see on screens are just snapshots of the beautiful parts of our messy lives.
Just out of the frame of the perfectly staged photo is a pile of junk that was moved to the side to make room for the shot. Behind the beautifully crafted prose is a notepad (or Notes app) with dozens of revisions and omitted words.
And that’s ok! But let’s look at it as inspiration, not comparison. We cannot expect to live the unedited parts of our lives under the standard of what we see on social media. Breathe. You’re doing just fine.
3. Choose a Lens of Gratitude
It is said that attitude is everything. This applies to how you engage with social media, too. Before you click over to Facebook, stop and evaluate: how are you seeing the world right now? Are you bitter? Frustrated? Excited? Thankful?
Christine Broyhill is the Global Social Media Content Producer at Western Union. Engaging on social media for a living has given her ample opportunity to explore media habits and develop her own. When asked about them, she said,
“I make an effort to view things on Facebook and Instagram with a lens of gratitude. I think when we remember that these channels are a way for us to stay connected to the ones we love and share special memories, it can be used for just that!”
Remind yourself of the good things in your life. The world can be a depressing place, and that can be amplified on social media. Choose to go against the grain and view social media with a lens of gratitude*.
(*Life hack: Heck, choose to view LIFE with a lens of gratitude!)
4. Engage with Purpose
To avoid mindlessly “binge-browsing,” (a.k.a unintentionally consuming every puppy video that pops up on your newsfeed) establish a purpose before you log on.
Are you looking to keep up with your friends and family? Do you need to find information about events happening in your area? Are you gathering inspiration for your next DIY project? Do you simply have 10 minutes to kill while you wait for a friend?
Remember your purpose and stick to it! Use social media as the tool and resource it can be.
5. Disengage with Purpose
Identify some times in your life when you find yourself on social media when you don’t need to be. Then, engage with the world beyond your screen!
Choose not to have those tabs open at work. Put your phone away when you are spending time with a friend or when you’re driving. Give yourself time to relax before bed without staring at a screen.
If you are using social media effectively in the times you set aside for it, then you WILL have time to intentionally unplug.
6. Change the Conversation
Christine Broyhill sees how social media can create positive conversation and connect people.
“Our challenge as the social channel,” she says, “is to change the conversation, so we focus our content on talking about encouraging and positive topics, so that hopefully the only engagement we see is positive engagement.”
This is incredible power. And it’s in your hands, too.
Get in the habit of thinking twice about everything you post. Take a tip from Upworthy’s Co-CEO Peter Koechley and ask yourself this question:
“If a million people saw this story, [comment/post/image/video] would it make the world a better place?”
. . .
So there you have it. You CAN engage with social media in a healthy way. Rather than allowing it to discourage you, use it to encourage others. Try it out, and see how it works.