Even though we know that most aspects of social media is nothing but a beautiful lie, we still feed into that elaborate lie again and again. What got me thinking about this is the recent comment by my friend, who said that she can’t help but feel anxious after each time she checks her Instagram. But still she can’t quit looking, because it’s so addictive. Not very long ago, I was in the same situation as her. Spending an unforgivable amount of time each day checking all of the platforms I had created an account for. I think it totaled up to eight platforms at one point-in-time. I then started blogging and had to create even more accounts for blogging purposes.
Needless to say, I was feeling completely frustrated, anxious and unproductive soon after. An unrelated subject like social media affected my blogging work in such a bad way. But here’s the thing about social media and blogging, both are so deeply connected. And if you don’t know how to manage social media properly, it causes you nothing but frustration and anxiety. You’ll soon want to quit blogging all together. At least, that’s what happened in my case. I was on the verge of quitting, until I read a blog post by a fellow blogger published on a similar topic. I quickly decided to set some ground rules when it came to social media. And I’m very fortunate and glad that I set those boundaries. Because if it wasn’t for these rules, I might not be blogging today.
But these rules are not only good for bloggers, but everyone in general. No matter your occupation, social media platforms can be a wonderful tool, connecting same-minded people and artists for the greater good. But it also can be the cause of anxiety and even depression if used mindlessly and without purpose. So without further ado, these are my rules to balance social media with my lifestyle.
FOUR SOCIAL MEDIA RULES I LIVE BY
1. Narrow the range of platforms you’re using regularly
When I was much younger and not very wise with my time, I used to be on every platform possible – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. You name it, I was probably on it. On top of that I was on a bunch of Russian platforms that you wouldn’t even know about. As I got older, wiser and much busier, I understood this – that my time is valuable and I need to use those platforms to my advantage, not for wasting my valuable time. Most of the platforms I use right now are to grow my blog and to inspire me. Instagram is a platform that serves both of those purposes and that’s the place where you’d see me most. I never really got into Twitter or Snapchat and that’s ok. Even for growing a blog, it’s not necessary to be on every platform. Otherwise, you’re stretching yourself too thin and that doesn’t make much sense to me. Even if you use those platforms for pleasure, reading the news or simply to spy on your ex (we all do that from time-to-time), stick to the one you enjoy and the ones that “speaks” to you the most. Don’t feel pressured that it’s critical to be on all of them just because your friends are.
2. Set a time limit and a purpose for your social media browsing
I’ve been working on making this a habit for quite some time. I know exactly why I’m opening my Instagram, even before I do it. Either it’s to get inspired, check for messages, or to simply see what my girl Audrey is up to. On a very rare occasion, you will catch me browsing through social media aimlessly. And here is why. A bigger picture always puts things into prospective. People spend a whopping average of two hours a day on social media. That’s fourteen hours a week or fifty-six hours a month. Which quickly adds up to twenty-four days or two months a year, if you count the nights. Because you need to sleep, right? Just imagine, all that time spent scrolling through your social media feed and nothing else. That’s quite a scary picture, isn’t it? That’s two months out of the year, where you could be traveling, experiencing or learning something new. Instead, you decide to spend it glued to your device’s screen. And that’s good, if you spend that time getting inspired and motivated. But most of that time people compare their life with others which makes themselves depressed and frustrated. That’s a pretty miserable way to spend two months of your life. Just sayin’.
3. Only follow accounts that inspire and motivate you
Social media is full of people with perfect bodies and lives, who drive expensive cars, wear designer clothes and look nothing less than flawless in every picture. The truth is that there are only a handful of people who actually lead that lifestyle. Everyone else is just trying to catch up with them and flaunt money that they simply don’t have. There’s even a proper term for this social phenomenon coined by a nineteenth-century sociologist Thorstein Veblen as “conspicuous consumption”. So before following someone just for their flawless pictures, ask yourself – is this particular person genuine, does looking at their photos motivate or demotivate me? Do you really need another reminder first thing in the morning when you open your Instagram that you don’t have their “perfect” life? Instead follow someone who might not have all the latest designer bags, but who positively uplifts your spirit and motivates you. Who reminds you that there’s a real life behind every image and that it’s ok to be perfectly imperfect.
4. Be mindful
In the end, it’s you who chooses how to spend your time and who’s responsible for it. In a world oversaturated with information, where social media applications and platforms constantly fight for our attention and are so addictive, it’s now easier than ever to get distracted. And it’s more important than ever to stay mindful and centered. Do you really want to waste that much time of your life on social media? Two months out-of-the-year, remember? If you really crave to have that jetsetter life seen on social media, then you certainly don’t have any time to waste. But it’s not only about the time either. Most importantly it’s about the mindset you develop for yourself. Either you check social media aimlessly and get stressed out by reminding yourself about the life you don’t have. Or you get motivated and excited for the life you do have and the life you can create.