Social media is an essential part of our lives. These apps keep us connected: we can share what we’re up to, boost community causes, or post embarrassing photos from last Saturday’s game night. But of course, there are downsides to using social media. It’s probably not realistic to delete our social media altogether, so we recommend using these five tips to help you improve your relationship with it instead:
Recognize Social Media Vs. Reality
As you scroll through your social feed, you’re probably used to seeing beautiful pictures—many of which have been filtered, cropped, and photoshopped. This leaves you with glimpses into people’s lives that don’t accurately portray their reality.
Don’t get stuck in the comparison trap of social media! Instead, understand that social media is not real-life: it is just a picture-perfect snapshot of what others want you to see. You may perceive someone as having it all together, but behind that beautiful photo, their world is just as messy as yours. Now, there are apps like BeReal that try to combat this issue, but even then, remember that people can always curate what you see.
Does the content you consume inspire you, make you laugh, or leave you feeling discouraged? Take time to unfollow influencers, businesses, or even friends whose content is not beneficial to you. The content you see should bring you positivity, motivation, and inspiration rather than being a source of overwhelming comparison.
You can also choose to be intentional about the content you post. Think about why you’re sharing the content, and don’t feel pressured to post at all. Avoid starting or engaging in arguments via social media. Most disagreements are better held in person; arguing is easy when you can hide behind your keyboard.
Nothing can replace personal, real-life interactions. Make a point to see your friends and family: schedule time to meet for coffee or spend a night out. If you’re a student, there are plenty of places in your town to explore.
Be present when you are with other people: put your phone down for a while and take time to make face-to-face connections. Snap a few pictures of your time together but consider a “latergram” post (take now, post later) so as not to take away from the moment.
Keep yourself in check by setting boundaries for social media use. Consider creating daily screen time limits on social networking apps. Vow to not use your phone in bed, particularly avoiding beginning or ending your day by scrolling social feeds. Try turning off push notifications on certain apps that will keep you from picking up your phone to check the latest information. Making small changes will help you stick to boundaries and hopefully minimize the overuse of social media.
If you feel your mental health is declining, a break from social media might be a good place to start. Scale back slowly by avoiding social media for a few minutes a day. Then, you can work up to a few hours or even a whole day.
If you’re feeling ambitious or need a bigger detox, sign out of social media accounts and delete the apps to take a more long-term break. Use this hiatus to schedule quality time with friends and family or for some overdue self-care. You may find that you don’t miss social media much at all and that your mood improves without the overwhelming amount of content.
It’s time we all learn to separate the online world from reality. By taking a step back and looking at how we use our phones, we can find the things that aren’t helping us—and slowly scale them back. You don’t have to give up social media altogether, but you can create a healthier relationship with the content feeds in your pocket.