Social media is one of my favorite topics to discuss from a life balance perspective. It has become a significant part of our social and professional lives, whether we like it or not. Personally, I have gone through different stages of acceptance when it comes to social media platforms and incorporating them into my daily life. A couple of years ago, I went as far as to go completely off the grid (dramatic). Now, I’m trying to find a balance as it’s becoming more and more difficult to run and hide from the inevitable. How do we effectively use social media without falling into a rabbit hole of self-despair and decreased engagement in our actual lives? Let’s talk about it.
Social media can be really fun. It also has the ability to be a little too present in our lives and completely monopolize hours at a time. It can be so present, in fact, that it prevents us from BEING present which is really the whole point of living, guys. Sometimes, as I look around at a concert, in a restaurant, at the beach or on a hike, I can’t help but wonder when we stopped actually just doing things for the sake of enjoyment. Now, it seems that if you didn’t document it (a.k.a., post about it), it didn’t happen. Are we so worried about posting a photo to Instagram that we don’t actually remember to have a great time and make some memories with the people and places in the photo? In many ways, I think we have become so connected that we are actually becoming disconnected.
I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to find balance when it comes to using social media and still having real-life, human interactions. There is nothing like being engaged person to person. Human beings are by nature social creatures and we need to experience empathy and connection. I’m of the opinion that this is not possible through social media, at least not in the same way as an old-fashioned conversation, handshake, hug or group laugh. We need to be around others and be engaged in what we are doing to thrive.
Having said that, as I mentioned earlier, social media is all around us and it’s not going anywhere. Many of us use it for work and to keep in touch with our friends and family that we can’t see as often as we would like. We owe it to ourselves to figure out a way to make social networking work for us, not against us. The solution may be as simple as giving ourselves a certain amount of time each day to devote to it, just as we do with our mealtimes, workouts, TV time, etc. Let’s say we spend a beautiful day exploring or spending time catching up with old friends. What would it be like to give ourselves 10 or 20 minutes at the end of the day to upload our photos and check in on our feeds? Just like anything else, we can overdo social media and studies have shown that doing so may be linked to depression. How much is too much?
It may also be worth noting WHY we are using social media in addition to the frequency. I invite you to do a little experiment with me. Each time you log on to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn or whatever platform you fancy, make a note of what thoughts and emotions you are experiencing. Are you getting frustrated or angry by posts from other people who have opinions that may hard for you to wrap your head around? Are you feeling badly about yourself because of something posted by someone else? Are you feeling guilty because you had other things you wanted to do with the time you spent on social media sites? Feeling confused and unsure of your own behaviors and lifestyle because of a new diet or magic quick fix posted online? If social media isn’t really that fun or pleasant, maybe it’s time to back off and take a little break. Your life is full of precious and beautiful moments that shouldn’t be wasted on activities that don’t make you happy.
How do you balance your use of social media? What are your tips and tricks for keeping your accounts active and engaging while also being present and enjoying your life?