words Alexa Wang
In our modern, ultra-connected world, the impact of social media is well beyond debate. That said, all of us are entitled to question ourselves over the nature and implications of this impact.
On the one hand, these platforms allow us to stay in touch with our friends and family, find long-lost acquaintances, entertain ourselves, and keep up to date with various developments. On the other hand, they can overwhelm us with information, vehiculate fake news and conspiracy theories, and even expose us to harmful and inappropriate content. This can majorly affect our sanity and mental health.
So, where do we find the balance? Because social media can often do more harm than good, here’s a guide to help you overcome the toxic effects we are all subjected to on these platforms.
Use Social Media Positively
The first thing in order to minimize your exposure to negativity online is by using social media solely to your benefit. Determine what positive outcomes you want to reap from your online presence. For instance, your goal may be to simply converse with your friends, be entertained with amusing videos, find some escape by looking at idyllic beachscapes, or gather inspiration from spiritual quotes. In any case, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other websites have made knowledge more accessible than ever. You can use this to your advantage by following your favorite artists, athletes, comedians, brands, and more.
Curate your Feeds
In parallel, be in control of what you want to see and interact with. Social media platforms allow us to personalize our feeds to our liking; you can prioritize posts from a certain page or, in contrast, restrict content from specific people or pages. In that regard, Dr Mike Brooks, a psychologist and published author based in Texas, explains that what we expose ourselves to online can often work to undermine our satisfaction and productivity. That is why remaining in control of the flow of information is crucial; instead of ‘liking’ media outlet pages and continually seeing depressing news about COVID-19, the economy, or war, consult news websites directly whenever you choose to. Self-management is key.
Privilege One-on-One Interactions
It is true that social media has enabled us to maintain and build relationships, personal or professional, yet, many among us have never felt more detached and isolated. Contrary to what some people believe, chats are not a suitable substitute for our basic need for human interaction. In truth, online conversations can distort our perception of reality and of other people, seeing as we are not dealing with them in person. As such, whenever you can, use social media to schedule real-life meetings and hangouts. This will contribute to balancing your mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as keep anxiety and depression at bay.
Take a Break
Alongside the benefits of technology, it has also developed potential risks and may harm our health and sanity. Notably, social media addiction is a new ill that is affecting nearly every user profile, from young teenagers to retirees. If you find that you cannot go more than two hours without compulsively checking your phone, perhaps it’s time to log off. Social networking sites are designed to make us want to use them continuously, with their notification system, friendly user interface, and more. This can end up hampering our productivity and trapping us in a cycle of inertia and bleakness. One way to regain control is to set limits for daily screen time, move the apps to a designated folder, or uninstall them entirely.
Find More Rewarding Pastimes
Let’s face it; most social media users scroll through their online feeds out of pure boredom, more often than not. Our brains crave novelty and knowledge, but these platforms simply present information in a random fashion, preventing our minds from fully absorbing the content in a way that makes us benefit. To get past this, you may want to lay off social media and find more constructive ways to pass the time. This can be done either online through reading, writing, or even doodling to boost your creativity, or offline, with physical activity, cooking, or whatever appeals to you the most.
Undeniably, there are tremendous benefits to using social media that don’t need an explanation. At the same time, incorrect or excessive exposure to these platforms can bring about negative effects, induce FOMA (fear of missing out), and make us entirely rely on them to pass the time. In the end, you have the power to filter out what you want to see, who and what you want to interact with. As a last resort, remember that the world won’t end if you log off for a while. Your mind will most likely thank you for it!