With new lockdown measures announced nationally, many of us will be turning to our devices to keep occupied. So, I’m sharing a few tips below on how I’m changing my relationship with social media, and I hope they’ll inspire you to do the same!
Social media has been something that’s felt ever present in my life since I was about 14 and logging on excitedly to MSN after school. (I mean sure I would never speak to half the people in person but you better believe I would nudge them virtually with no shame).
In its infancy, social media was a connector, a place where you could catch up with family and friends. Over time, it’s evolved into the social media we all know (and…love?!) today. At best it’s a place to be inspired, make meaningful connections, find out about events, join clubs, promote your business, shop, sell and get real time news updates from all over the world. At worst, it’s a toxic minefield of overly staged photos, filtered faces, comparison games, fake news, mind-numbing threads, online bullying and downright deception (that’s not just influencers badly declaring ads lol).
In lockdown, I spent a lot of time social media and I genuinely enjoyed watching people’s everyday life, hosting quizzes and chatting to many new people over DM’s. However, I’ve always been conscious of the times when Matt and I sit in a room, both scrolling on our phones. It’s a bad habit I’m sure we’re all guilty of. When I watched The Social Dilemma recently on Netflix, this only compounded my annoyance for the ways these platforms keep us addicted. Essentially, it’s a game of ‘how much of your life can we keep you glued to your device’. It’s no coincidence that my home feed is full of guinea pigs and autumn jumpers right now, and while this doesn’t seem sinister, the misinformation around Covid-19 and the BLM movement that was circulated can very quickly enforce negative outlooks – just because of a tailored algorithm.
Check it out, if you haven’t already > https://www.thesocialdilemma.com/
I love social media, but it’s definitely concerning to me there is very little safeguarding and laws surrounding it to protect us and our mental health. Therefore I think it is up to us, the end user, to take the control back and make social media a place that WE enjoy! So, without further ado, here’s my top tips to have a better relationship with your social platforms.
You don’t have to be ‘on’ every platform
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest…the list goes on!
I looked at all the social platforms I was on and asked myself, what ones am I actually enjoying using? I knew Instagram had to stay, as this is my favourite platform. I had wanted to delete Facebook for a long time, but having extended family on there was one of the only reasons I stayed. That, and the thousands of photo albums I had and didn’t want to lose! However, I decided that I can speak to or see those family members in real life or on the phone, and it doesn’t really matter if I miss the odd picture update or two.
In terms of personal photos, you can actually download all of your Facebook data (including conversations too!). So I did this, and then got rid of Facebook. I haven’t missed it since, and it’s freed up a lot more of my time.
I also deleted Snapchat, and TikTok which I downloaded in lockdown but never used. My personal Twitter also went, as I have my blog’s Twitter and didn’t feel the need to have two accounts showing me similar information.
It’s important to understand what works for you. If you are genuinely happy being on everything, then that’s great.
Refine your following (or utilise the mute & not interested buttons!)
Your accounts are YOUR space, and should be bringing you positivity and content that inspires you.
I started by going through who I was following on my Instagram, and unfollowing any accounts that I didn’t relate to. I did the same with Twitter too. I also removed some people from my following on my personal Instagram as I’m quite a private person and feel like I want this to be a space for closer friends moving forward.
Where to start?
- Make a few notes about what you’d like to see on your social media – is it mental health tips? Star signs? Outfit ideas? Seek out some accounts that are doing this in a way you like, and connect with them.
- If you’re hate following someone, simply to judge or compare their lives to yours, get rid!
- If you know a person in real life, and unfollowing their account gives you anxiety, use the mute button to mute their Instagram Stories or Posts for a while. Don’t worry, they won’t know that you have muted them.
- On Instagram, if you see content that is triggering or uninspiring to you, press the 3 buttons on the side of the photo, and click not interested. Insta will then show you less of this type of content.
I totally appreciate every single person that has followed my blog over the years, but I would never want people to feel pressured to follow me on it simply because they know me in real life!
Take photos for the memories, not the gram
Cute doors, a beautiful view or insta-worthy brunches…our fingers are always itching to snap away, filter and share. Meanwhile, the food gets cold and everyone else awkwardly sits back, cutlery poised waiting for you to get the perfect pic. I’ve made a point of trying to enjoy things in the moment and trusting my mind to remember them. To breathe, take in my surroundings, and enjoy it without worrying about showing it to everyone else. Of course, sometimes that brunch just needs a snap – but how about taking one of the people you’re with as well? I take a lot of photos that I don’t post anywhere. It’s nice to have them just for the memories.
I’ve also found that not stressing over content too much means I’ll often get some lovely impromptu snaps. I thought I’d take my SLR with us on a Sunday afternoon walk to get some personal photos, and I ended up getting snaps that worked perfectly for this post I was planning to write!
There’s nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone who is aimlessly scrolling through social media. Equally, I find it really sad seeing a family or group of friends out to dinner all staring at their phones. If I’m in the presence of friends or family, I make a point of putting my phone away, and if it does come out it’s for a specific reason. I also find that when I’m alone in public waiting for someone, I would instantly reach for my phone as a safety blanket to stare at. Now, I’m more inclined to put it in my bag and watch the world go by. A lot of the time people watching is much more interesting…
Set limits in a way that works for you
If you struggle with putting your phone down and feel addicted to it, you can set limits of screen time for each app on the iPhone. However, I’ve been guilty of pressing the ‘ignore for today’ button many times!
What works best for me is putting my phone in a different room completely. I’ll leave it on charge upstairs and go do something else. I prefer to monitor my screen time through timers, so if I have some Instagram engagements to do, or a Story to share, I’ll set a timer on my phone for half an hour or so and when it goes off, I’ll put my phone down again. This also keeps me focussed on the task at hand and stops me getting drawn in to watching endless videos, for example.
Technology out of the bedroom
I’ve mentioned before on Instagram that I try sit in the spare room to use my phone before bed if it need to, rather than sitting on my device in bed. It helps create separation, and stops blue screen affecting me as I’ve been struggling to sleep recently. Plus, it’s nice to spend some more time in a different room of the house!
Remember, nobody’s perfect
While this post might come across like I am absolutely ‘acing’ my social media relationship, that definitely isn’t the case! It’s an ongoing battle. There are still times I won’t be able to sleep and will read Reddit threads into the early hours, knowing it’s a bad move but not being able to stop it anyway. A girl just has to know the behind the scenes Real Housewives drama sometimes, mmmkay?
However by trying to be more mindful and conscious of the ways I use social media, I am making it a more positive and inspiring experience.
I hope this lengthy post (if you have reached the end of it… therefore spending more time on social media than you wanted to today…DAMN IT!) has helped inspire you to detox and refresh your social media channels to make them work for you.
Feel free to leave a comment with any tips you’ve found useful too!