We have all seen it before, a friend, family member or celebrity takes to social media to say they are taking a break from social media… Yep, let that one soak in a moment. They tell a tale of no longer being able to handle the negativity, politically charged comments or Susan’s constant CrossFit updates. They sign off, meaning they don’t actively post or engage for a week or two, and then triumphantly return announcing they’re back and letting the world know that their absence has been life-changing. How do I know the stages of the social media elimination diet so well? Because I, too, have proclaimed my emancipation from social sharing and have come back realizing that “everything in moderation” really is the best advice of all.
So why do these “diets” rarely last, and why do they ultimately leave us counting down the days until we can once again indulge in our bestie’s yoga-with-a-goat grams? To get to the heart of this, we need to examine why we use various social media platforms. Earlier this year, GlobalWebIndex published a blog post that detailed the top ten reasons people use social media.
To stay in touch
To stay up-to-date with news and current events
To fill spare time
Because friends are doing it
To find fun content
To share photos or videos
To share an opinion
To meet new people
To find new products
All of these reasons seem harmless enough, so how do we go from here to the point where we need to break up with our social-selves? The answer is because social media can force us to focus too much on what is happening in other people’s lives, and not enjoying and appreciating our own. We can concentrate so much on what others are saying and doing that we forget that there are humans in our inner circle that we should be having actual conversations and interactions with. The majority of folks posting to the inter-webs only share carefully crafted and edited images, and snippets of their lives. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to assume everyone else is living the dream while you’re stuck with an alarm that doesn’t even have a snooze button.
Now that we have identified the issue, how do stop the yo-yo of social-purging and create a healthy relationship with our social platforms? Bustle gives us a few tips to get to that sweet spot.
Schedule your social time
Remove the apps from your phone (the horror!)
Call your friend (like, have an actual voice conversation)
Think before you post (ahem, nothing good is ever posted after 11 pm)
Be selective about who you follow (this is good advice online and off…)
Don’t feed the trolls (never argue with crazy; people watching might not be able to tell the difference… just sayin’)
Stop comparing yourself to others online (PREACH!)
Post latergrams (not sure if this even a thing anymore with Instagram’s new algorithm …. Happy to hear your thoughts)
Keep social media out of the bedroom
If we can learn to be present with the humans in our lives and be comfortable with moments of quiet reflection, perhaps we won’t need to make a grand overture and proclaim that online sharing networks are the root of our unhappiness. We might even be able to appreciate all the positivity that community sharing brings to our lives. I, for one, am now incredibly thankful for the burst of cuteness that The Dodo or Fluffsquad brings to me on Facebook each morning. At the end of the day, I need to remind myself that just because someone across the globe has a pet sloth, my life is still meaningful even though I do not.