Social media … some hate it, some love or if you’re anything like me, it’s a bit of both.
As an introvert who embraces the minimalist lifestyle, there’s part of me that daydreams about deleting all of my accounts and ignoring it altogether.
After all, it can be stressful. There are toxic conversations, unhealthy comparisons, and, of course, it can be a massive waste of time. It’s easy to imagine how much simpler things would be without social media in our lives.
On the other hand, I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that there’s a lot to love about it. There’s no doubt that social media helps people stay connected, especially when you have friends and family all over the world. I love being part of this online community.
All of this leaves many people wondering how to use social media wisely and mindfully. Is there a healthy way of using it that empowers community and connection without the excess baggage? Let’s find out.
Note: This post was originally published in 2016 but has recently been updated.
Should You Let Go Of Social Media?
Let’s take a moment to consider the benefits of social media, beyond staying in touch.
- Connect with like-minded people who share your unique interests. Sometimes it’s hard to find people in “real life” with the same passions and interests. Social media makes these connections possible.
- Learn new things and share ideas. I was actually first introduced to minimalism because of an article I saw on Facebook! One click led to another, and it eventually changed my entire life.
- Stay up to date with community events, such as concerts or festivals.
- Research travel ideas, recipes, DIY projects and more. I love to use Pinterest for travel planning and Facebook for dining recommendations.
For these reasons, I feel that social media adds enough value to my life that I don’t want to let go completely. Instead, I think there’s an alternative to taking a complete digital detox.
Mindful and intentional use.
Because whether you love it, hate it or fall somewhere in-between—ultimately, social media is a tool. Instead of giving it up, we can make an intentional choice about the role it plays in our lives.
How to Consume Social Media Mindfully
Here are some simple tips that will help change the way you scroll.
BE HONEST ABOUT HOW SOCIAL MEDIA MAKES YOU FEEL
Healthy social media habits start with self-awareness. Think about the social media platforms and accounts you visit most and reflect on how they make you feel.
Do certain outlets leave you feeling guilty, angry or inadequate? And do others leave you feeling positive and inspired?
Consider why this is—sometimes it’s the source of information, but other times our feelings are a reflection of whatever’s going on in our lives right now.
There are no right or wrong answers, but the better you understand yourself and your feelings, the better equipped you are to make wise choices about social media use.
SET YOUR INTENTION BEFORE GOING ONLINE
Before you login, take a few minutes to set your intentions. Are you going online to:
- Catch up with friends?
- Make plans for the weekends?
- Zone out for a bit and watch funny cat videos?
- Find inspiration?
Yet again, there are no right or wrong answers (we all love funny cat videos once in a while!) but clarifying your purpose before you go online gives you a sense of direction. Instead of mindless scrolling, you can go directly to the accounts or pages you want to see and avoid the ones that don’t serve your intentions.
USE TECHNOLOGY TO FILTER YOUR FEEDS
Once you know your intentions, you can use technology to help you follow through. Here are a few simple tips that will help you use social media wisely.
- Did you know on Facebook you can customise your newsfeed? You can prioritise who you see first or unfollow people to hide their posts. To do this, navigate to Settings > News Feed preferences while in the app.
- Facebook and Instagram have native tools to help you monitor and limit your time. More info here.
- If you use Twitter, you can use lists to manage who you follow. For example, I have specific lists for networking, other minimalists, travel and more—and this helps me only to see the information that’s most relevant to me. More info here.
- Also, keep in mind that social media platforms use algorithms to try to figure out what you like based on your behaviour, so don’t engage with any content that you don’t want to see.
SAY GOODBYE TO ANYONE WHO ISN’T ADDING VALUE TO YOUR LIFE
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating—it’s absolutely okay to “declutter” your friends list. If an account, group or page regularly upsets you or makes you feel bad, then it’s OK to walk away.
On Facebook, you can “unfriend” people, or if you prefer, you can unfollow or snooze their accounts. This way, you get a break from their content without completely disconnecting.
BEWARE THE COMMENT SECTION
While there are exceptions, online comment sections can be toxic—so proceed with caution.
I can only speculate as to why, but there’s no doubt that social media empowers people to make comments that they wouldn’t say in a face to face conversation. There’s often a complete lack of respect for opposing points of views, and they’re rarely a place for open and honest discussion.
LOG OFF, UNINSTALL OR TRACK
If you know that social media is a problem for you and you want to use it less often consider:
- Logging off after every session and not saving your password – the extra step of having to log in will often be the “pause” you need to reconsider.
- Deleting the apps off your phone – we tend to be more absent-minded with our browsing habits on our phones than on our desktop computers.
- Tracking your usage – there are many free apps that will track how much time you’re spending on your phone (my phone does this automatically!). Sometimes realising just how much time you’re spending online is the first step in changing your habits.
USE NATURAL BARRIERS TO LIMIT YOUR CONSUMPTION
We all know what it’s like to get lost down the rabbit hole of social media … you hop on your phone just to “check a few things” … and next thing you know, you’ve spent an embarrassingly long time on your phone.
If this happens to you, one tip is to use natural barriers to limit your social media time.
For example, if you leave home at 3:00 every afternoon to pick up your kids, then plan to check social media at 2:45. You know that you have to go shortly and therefore won’t spend longer than 15 minutes online.
Alternatives to Social Media
Finally, I think it’s worth mentioning that we often use social media as a form of escape. When we’re feeling frustrated or bored, we turn to our phones to buffer our feelings.
If this happens to you, here are a few alternatives to consider:
- Instead of ranting or complaining on Facebook, try sharing your feelings in a journal. Here are some tips on how to get started.
- If you catch yourself turning to social media for a “break”, why not practice real self-care instead? Here are some practical tips.
- Are you looking online for beauty and inspiration? Why not take a moment to enjoy the simple things in life instead? Make a hot cup of coffee, read a few pages of poetry, or get some fresh air.
These are just a few tips and tricks that have helped me become more mindful when going online. Always remember that social media is a tool, and it’s up to each of us to make wise and intentional choices about the role it plays in our lives.
How do you feel about social media? Do you have tips or tricks for using it mindfully? Let me know in the comments! x