Social media and I have had a deep, dark love affair. To be completely honest, social media had been to me exactly what people are now criticizing it for: a validation-seeking, dopamine-producing, and envy-inducing vehicle of illusive connectedness.
I didn’t realize how toxic social media was for me until I deleted the apps from my phone and deactivated some of my accounts. Once I was away from it for several days, I started to evaluate how much different life was with and without it. My conclusion is the same as the experts.
I read an article recently on using social media mindfully. For someone like me, who is one of those easily exploited individuals, disconnecting from social media every once in a while is extremely important. Once I got back on my social media, I only downloaded the Instagram app on my phone (because you can’t post from a computer like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) and I even muted the notifications. Muting notifications was important to me because those likes, comments, and follows can be addicting. Limiting use of aforementioned apps to my laptop has already had positive benefits. I find myself scrolling less, which makes me less envious of those around me, and posting less, which makes me less pressured for content.
At the same time, I’ve been making an effort to live more presently. Instead of interrupting moments to take photos, tag people, and post about them, I have been putting my full attention on enjoying the moment. I want to actually enjoy the people I’m with, not scroll through my phone and post about it. I want to actually take in my surroundings, not just stare at a screen all the time. I want to savor a moment through my eyes, not stress out over trying to get a good photo. I want to cultivate meaningful relationships, not just engage with everyone I see online. If I find myself scrolling too much, I take some deep breaths and think about something else I could be doing that’s more productive, then I go do it. When it comes to posting, I have started thinking about the THINK method. (Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it insightful? Is it necessary? Is it kind?)
I have also come to terms with the fact that social media is never really honest. Everyone (including myself) is interested in showing their best selves that they forget to just be themselves. Instead of criticizing and pointing fingers, I have joined some acquaintances in sharing our imperfections online. It’s not in a way that could be seen as attention-seeking or complaining. We post things, as if to say, “sometimes I don’t feel well and that’s okay because it’ll pass,” or, “here are the responsibilities I’ve been neglecting because life can be chaotic.” We want to share our imperfections because those messy, ugly things are what make us human. I want to be honest on my social media and I no longer want to chase likes, comments, and follows. My goal with social media use is to express my interests and lifestyle without the B.S.
After next Sunday (January 28th), I will be logging out of my social media and ignoring it for a week. As the article advised, a week away can have some positive benefits, especially for people like me and those who get easily sucked in. I intend on unplugging for one week every month this year.
I thought about being extreme and deleting everything and being completely off the grid. I harbored negative feelings towards social media. But, the truth is, it’s not all bad. It, like everything else in life, is what you make of it. I think being responsible, knowing your own limits, and doing things in moderation is the best thing you can do for yourself. Instead of cutting off the love affair, I intend on taming and reclaiming it.