I want to vent to you about someone. A friend of mine, yes, but I just need to get something off of my chest. His name is Social Media. Oh, you’re familiar with him already? Perfect.
Social Media and I go way back. I guess you can say I’ve known him since he was just beginning to sprout. He was the cutest thing, wasn’t he? There was MySpace, Tumblr, along came Twitter, Facebook, and so many others in between. He grew into something much larger than we could keep track of. And you know those friends – the ones that you can hang with for hours and hours and lose track of time. Or the friends who are there for you when no one else is, the ones who will listen endlessly and never tell you they’re tired and you can finish your story tomorrow – that’s who Social Media has been to me. But he does have a dark side. He can be discouraging, a bully, a manipulator, bad influence, distraction, and so many other things. But it isn’t his fault. It’s mine, ours. I have been guilty, like so many others, of expecting too much from Social Media and too much of anything is no good for anyone. And this is why I strongly advocate for Social Media hiatuses.
Now, before I continue, I do want to say that Social Media can be amazing. When used for the better, it can be beneficial in a plethora of ways. Social Media can help you grow a business, stay connected with family and friends, help others in a disaster or simply those in need, and so much more. Social Media is the future. But we’ll save that for another post.
So, to my point, if you have ever considered going on a Social Media hiatus at one point or another, congratulations! Welcome to the age of the Millennials. The good news is you aren’t alone. Social Media has become such an essential tool in most aspects of life that it’s almost impossible to avoid it. In the office, at the gym, while searching for a new home, apartment, or roommate – social media has found a way to rear its head and make its presence known. And for the average person, it can grow to be unbearable, especially if you’re one who finds yourself mindlessly checking your Social Media accounts in the same manner that you’d check a fridge multiple times in one hour.
As a person who has gone on multiple Social Media hiatuses, I can share with you all the things you’d be able to do during your time away:
• Reconnect with your passions
• Use effort to make genuine connections with people (phone calls, ask old friends/family to spend time together)
• Enjoy experiences without feeling the urge to digitally capture every moment
• Compete with only yourself
• Create new habits
• Use your boredom as motivation
• Clean out your inbox (that Unsubscribe button is your friend)
• Read a book
• Write a book
• Do that thing you’ve been putting off
If you don’t want to fully leave your Social Media accounts for any period of time, but would like to gain more control over your usage, here are some things I’d recommend you practice:
• Limit your daily Social Media intake
o Ex: 1.5 hours/day, 3 hours/day on weekends
• Very limited use when out with family or friends
• Choose your posts wisely
• Do NOT argue or debate online
• Maintain a professional image (companies do check!)
• Do not mindlessly check your accounts
All in all, it’s up to you to take control of your Social Media habits. Do not become so enveloped in what’s happening online that you forget to keep up with what’s happening in your day to day. And do not feel guilty for wanting to step away from Social Media sometimes. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time, maybe just a few days, but I assure you that you will feel so liberated whenever you do. It’s important that we take time for ourselves. We oftentimes get so caught up in the lives of everyone else that we don’t take the time to understand our own.
So I challenge you: The next time you go to mindlessly check your Social Media account out of boredom, do the next thing on your checklist instead. Let’s see how productive we can be!