Throughout 2020, many of us found ourselves spending more time on social media to feel less alone, and to keep ourselves entertained. But it might be time to rethink our relationship with social media. Particularly, during the New Year when we are encouraged to “glow up” and follow the trend of “New Year, New Me!”. As we navigate our third lockdown, messages like this can be counterproductive, and make us feel down.
These questions can help you identify if it’s time to reduce your social media usage:
- Is social media causing you more distress than enjoyment lately?
- Are you scrolling longer than you want to be?
- Do likes and comments have an impact on your day?
- Do you find yourself doing things purely for the sake of posting, without feeling much joy?
- Are you neglecting aspects of life that are important to you?
Why Should We Reduce Our Usage?
- Social Comparison: On social media, we are frequently seeing people who appear to have better or more exciting lives than us. It can be easy to start feeling envious, sad or find ourselves losing our confidence by engaging in self-criticism. Even if we acknowledge that social media is the highlight reel of most people’s lives, including our own, it can still be difficult to not let that affect how we feel. By reducing our usage, we can focus more on our own lives and living on our own terms.
- Information Overload: Beyond the difficulty of social comparison, social media can be distracting and overwhelming. We have a constant stream of information at our fingertips that appears to go on forever, which can lead to information overload, and cause us to feel fatigued. If you often find yourself scrolling through social media while trying to study, or engage in other activities, you might burn out quicker than usual. By being more mindful with our social media consumption, we can engage in deep work and make an effort to be present in the moment.
- Time: You may find that you spend a lot more time than you want to on social media. We have access to multiple social media platforms, each designed to provide us with an endless amount of content. It’s understandable that while stuck at home, we have found ourselves caught up in this cycle. By setting boundaries, we can use our social media more intentionally, and regain free time to do things we enjoy, and get our work done when needed.
Now, that’s not to say, don’t use it! Social media can be a source of motivation and inspiration when used correctly and in moderation. You can reshape your relationship with social media by:
- Acknowledging Your Social Media Habits: On some devices, you can access screen time information in settings, but if not, perhaps write it down or find an app that can show you how much time you are spending on social media. This can put things into perspective, and show you how much time you are losing.
- Reducing Your Screen Time: You can start by deciding when you want to avoid checking your phone, such as after you have woken up or before bed. Another easy time to set a boundary is when working or studying; make an effort to put your phone away during these times. This can help you to focus and begin to build a routine with limited screen time. Additionally, you can make use of screen time limits, or use apps that block certain apps or sites for a set period of time such as ,Forest. If you find yourself clicking onto the apps automatically, you can move your apps into a folder, or delete and reinstall when needed.
- Make Use of Your Free Time: It can be easy to fall into a trap of trying to become ultra productive by reducing our social media time but really, we should focus on dedicating some of that new found time to care for ourselves. By learning to focus on yourself, and your path in life, you might find yourself feeling more content than when you’re seeing everyone else’s lives. What hobbies have you neglected? When was the last time you spent quality time with family or friends (even if that’s a phone call!)?
- Tailor Your Social Media Feeds: It might be a good idea to clean up your social media feeds by unfollowing or muting people, and following accounts that make you feel content and inspired. You can also follow less people to reduce how long you spend scrolling.