It wasn’t until this past June that Julia Roberts joined Instagram, and the fact that she held out for so long is part of why she’s got a handle on this social media thing. Roberts has seemingly figured out the secret to finding joy in it — and not the anxiety and depression that it stirs up for many.
In five words, she summed up her positive relationship to social media, telling People, “It doesn’t feel like work.”
She explained how she manages to remain “not addicted,” and not feel compelled to constantly refresh her page, saying, “I do what I can when I can and it’s just so, in that way, it’s fun. ” She added, “I do enjoy it. But the nice thing is, you know, I was actually just talking to a girlfriend today and saying it’s nice that I don’t feel pressure or responsibility.”
The addictive nature of Instagram is one of the reasons that Roberts avoided using it for as long as she did, as she revealed back in 2016. “Listen, I don’t have my head in the sand. I’m aware of the different outlets, however you label them,” she told InStyle. “It’s like people talking about a TV show — I can be perfectly aware of the TV show and the story, but it doesn’t mean I watch it… Everyone has Instagram on their phone. And I just, yeah, [if I had it] I would be looking at it all the time.”
For Roberts, that constant scrolling would prevent her from being present for the loved ones in her life. “It’s about allowing time to just exist,” she said. “Conversations require a complete disregard for the clock — so that you can just listen and really be present. It becomes a paradox of efficiency and presence. That’s why I love the summer. I just don’t care what time it is.”
As for how the rest of us — many of whom have been on social media for longer than Roberts — can keep that same healthy divide, creating strict rules around how long you spend on the platform each day is a good place to start. “A great first step to seeing how your social media time may be impacting you is to monitor how many hours you spend checking it using the Screen Time app on Apple devices or battery use on Android devices,” Sarah E. Domoff, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology at Central Michigan University, tells Thrive. “In order to engage with social media without it becoming work, set time aside each day to check social media accounts. It can be highly distracting to frequently scroll throughout the day — and can interfere with returning focus to work tasks or other activities. Allow yourself one or two times per day to check the social media accounts you use to stay in touch with friends and family.”
It also comes down to having specific goals when you do log on, rather than just wasting away the minutes. “In my experience, it is really important to first be intentional about your use,” Domoff adds. “Understanding the ways in which social media has not worked for you — for example, distracted you from work or face-to-face interactions — and what you want to gain from your social media use is important for everyone to consider.”
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