Social media has become a central aspect of our lives. Often it is the first thing we check in the morning, multiple times during the day and last thing we check at night. Going through a social media cleanse especially during this time of the year seems like a vogue thing to do. Imagine if we learned to manage our social media use and were more intentional about whom we let influence us.
In this blog post, I will share some facts about the time we spend on social media and the effects it has on our lives. So you don't feel judged, I will get personal with my journey and the tools I used to have a more healthy relationship with social media. The motivation for this post came from a conversation I had with one of the great women in my community.
How much time do you spend on social media?
Let's start with some statistics on how much time we spend on social media:
Mediakix calculated average time spent per day on YouTube (40 minutes), Facebook (35), Snapchat (25), Instagram (15) and Twitter (one) and projected those figures out over a lifetime, arriving at a total of five years and four months.
The data shows that we are investing about 2 hours every day in something that does not yield any returns. This valuable time could be spent elsewhere, for example sleeping more or learning something new.
Do you identify with any of the following?
Why should you manage your social media "use"?
Some of the tangible benefits that you can enjoy when you manage your time spent on social media include the following:
Being that I was very far away from my family and friends, social media felt like the only way I could keep in touch with everyone and not feel too isolated in Germany. In the early 2000s, the social networks I used were Yahoo/MSN/ AOL messenger, Hi-five, MySpace and then Facebook came along.
I was an early adopter of all communication channels as I wanted to stay connected to my people. For about five years, my use of social media platforms was normal. However, with the introduction of smartphones my usage spiked and social media was taking over every free minute I had. As many of you know, I left Facebook for about seven years. I needed to take a break from Social media and learn how to make connections in different ways.
Let me start by saying - I came back on Social media in 2017, because I am ready and mature. I want to share the reasons I had to make a change and lessons I learned about using social media wisely.
Problem #1: I was comparing myself to others
Coming to this realization was shocking to me because I never thought I was that person. Growing up with my twin I learned to accept that although we were born on the same day, we were very different individuals on different journeys. However, when it came to seeing my Facebook friends progress, I felt very different. Everyone seemed to be graduating from university, getting married, having babies before me. I felt as if I wasn't making enough progress in my life and became very impatient.
Tool #1: Stop Comparing your life to others
Well, I grew older and more confident in my journey. I learned to appreciate and celebrate my achievements and where I am in life now. My journey is different, and it's great. I don't compare myself to what people chose to clean up and post on social media.
Problem #2: I wasn't sure what I wanted to share and what not
Especially in hard times, I felt the need to share my heart on Facebook mainly for other people’s reactions and comments. My approach was to complain and look for sympathy rather than have a more productive conversation sharing my learnings and experiences.
Tool #2: Share your deepest thoughts with people around you.
Social media should not be the first place you run to with your issues or thoughts. Facebook friends are virtual and far :). Confide in your support community and share your experiences.
Problem #3: I neglected making personal connections and relied only on virtual connections
Being that most of my social media friends were in many other countries, social media was the only way for us to connect. We kept our relationship very superficial and hardly discussed deep concerns or experiences
Tool #3: Invest more time in your personal relationships.
When I started making more local friends, I felt much better. Real friends whom you share your real life with are worth more.
Problem #4: I was spending too much time on Facebook.
Facebook became a distraction for me. I checked my feed when I woke up and multiple times during the day. It didn't stop there; I also shared updates, made comments and interacted with other people's posts for extended minutes. Working a full-time job and studying for my Master's degree, I had to use my time wisely and be more productive.
Tool #4: Remove social media apps from your phone and switch off notifications.
I want to be able to go on social when I feel like and spend the right amount of time. Being conscious of how much time I spend on social media is a priority for me.
Problem #5: I didn't feel joy from Facebook
It took me a while to realize that I felt negative emotions when I spent time on Facebook. I hardly came away feeling empowered. Although I felt down, I still went back.
Tool #5: Be aware of the emotional effects social media has on you.
Guarding your mental health is essential. These days when I check Facebook, I'm happy to reconnect with people, share what I want but it doesn't define the way I feel about my life. Be intentional about whom you follow and the groups you subscribe to. As you watch the people, you surround yourself with in real life also be careful about whom you surround yourself with online.
Call to Action
Explore your relationship with Social media