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Make peace with social media: four things to implement today

Posted on Aug 24, 2021 by

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Many people have a love-hate relationship with social media nowadays. These social channels have the power to inspire us, or bring new friends, as well as the power to make us feel down, insecure, and overwhelmed. I’ve been hearing more about the negative effects of social media from the people around me, lately, and mostly nothing about the positive side of it. It’s easy to become overwhelmed in this virtual life that we feel obliged to have, especially for creators. We tend to forget that all the drama is happening inside a tiny icon on a phone, and that all of it would disappear completely tomorrow if, for some reason, there won’t be any more electricity in the world. But the struggle is real, and we shouldn’t let it get us down. We should pause for a moment and think about our relationship with social media, about how to change it to be a functional one, one that brings us the benefits it’s supposed to bring. Think about it like social media therapy. It will be good for you. The process will take time and you will fail a few times, but, hopefully, at the end of it, you will be able to use social media for your benefit, and not let it use you. This article is part of a series I started as a component of my personal journey to make peace with social media, to feel less engulfed by it and to get to a point where it won’t mess with my head and ruin my creativity and personal relationships.

There are several things you can start doing right now so you can make peace with social media. Let’s start with four.

Make peace with social media
photo by @neslihasacamera

Limit the time on the apps.

You’ve probably heard about this a million times before, and it’s because it’s efficient. Most of the time we spend on social media is through the apps on our phones. If you can’t bring yourself to delete the apps, maybe you can start by reducing their number. For example, I only kept Instagram on my phone, because is the one I use the most. This way, I forced myself to use the others on a desktop, which means my time on the platforms has been reduced considerably.

Next step, decide how much time is enough for you on the social media apps every day, and implement that limit (there are apps that can help you with this). If you track your social media usage, you will be surprised, because the time you spend on them is more than you think. So let’s say you decide one hour every day is enough for you to dedicate to this virtual life. Then stick to it as much as possible, and resist the urge to say “ignore time limit for today”. After a few days, you will already feel less stressed about the things that were stressing you inside those apps and you will start noticing so many other things to do in the real life around you.

Curate the accounts you are following

Do this without mercy. You need to see inspiring things in your feed, not people that make you feel bad about yourself, in one way or another. Take some time to go through the accounts you are following and hit unfollow. If you have some that you think they are inspiring, but they still make you feel bad about certain aspects of your life, you can just mute them. When you will feel like checking those accounts, you can easily find them, but they won’t bombard you every day with their stories about their perfect life/ perfect work / perfect whatever. But, mostly, unfollow without regret; your mental health is the most important. The accounts you keep should be either entertaining, inspiring, or bring some knowledge and diversity. They shouldn’t make you feel like you are not doing enough, you’re not enough, or bring up envy or insecurities.

As for the news accounts, that’s a personal choice if you want to receive your news this way, instead of reading a paper or watching TV. Consider that receiving the news through social media means constant bombarding with (mostly) bad news and make sure you are up for that. For me, that means certain anxiety. I am a highly sensitive person and I get easily overwhelmed by reading the news, so I decided, a while back, to only read the news from time to time. It’s the same with the activist accounts: I can support them without having to see every day the horrible things they are fighting against. So make your choice wisely.

Schedule

I can’t praise enough the scheduling of the social media posts! This is mainly for creators and entrepreneurs, but whomever wants to post regularly on social media can make use of the scheduling tools. Make a weekly, by-weekly or monthly plan and take the time to schedule all those posts. Find the best way for you to do the scheduling, use an app or the platform’s native tools, and prepare at least the bulk of your posting. Make sure to leave space for spontaneous posts, if you think there will be some. Having most of the social media scheduled will give you peace of mind and you won’t have to think every day about what you should post. Some people go as far as to have their stories prepared, ready to be uploaded, but I prefer to keep the stories spontaneous, to show glimpses of my life in real time. Also, having scheduled most of my posts, I feel that a good part of spontaneous creativity space was taken from me, so I prefer to have the stories for that. Although, I know that this feeling is tricky, because in reality, the space for creativity that we think the social media platform is giving us, is just one of the ways it’s keeping us hooked and our minds occupied with “what should I post today on Instagram” instead of actual creative, meaningful work.

Take a break

I will add this as the last one, because if you’re reading this article I guess you are interested not in quitting social media but in creating a good relationship with it. However, a break from it all will do you good. Take a day, or more, take a week or a month if you feel that’s what you need. Your followers won’t all go away in this time, and you won’t miss important things because of your break. When you will be back on social media, it will feel just as coming back to a telenovela after 50 episodes, and seeing that the action is pretty much in the same place where you left it. A bit of distance will clear your mind, it will give you time and space to think about other stuff or maybe even about the social media strategy that you want to use in the future. Make sure to not cheat during your break, delete your apps and resist the urge to “just have a quick look”. Occupy your time with reading, doing the things you kept postponing, having fun with your hobbies or try to let yourself be bored for a while. If you are like most social media users, you will have a few extra free hours every day, and it will be nice to find other ways of using them.

I hope you will find these tips useful, and if you try them, let me know! I’m not saying they will solve all the issues you have, but they are the first steps towards a healthy usage of these social platforms, and hopefully they will contribute to keeping you sane in the relationship with the virtual world.

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