Ever feel like the lines between the real world and the social media world are becoming a bit blurred? Yep, me too. It doesn’t matter whether your job revolves around social media or not – it can be tricky to know where the boundaries lie, and nobody is really policing our behaviour when it comes to poor social media habits…
I was recently listening to a podcast (I can’t for the life of me remember which one) where they were discussing how the future generations would view social media. I think it might have been one of the recent episodes of The High Low but don’t quote me on that! Anyway, it was mentioned that many predict privacy will be held in much higher regard to future generations, and that they will look back on this current time of ‘oversharing’ as quite bizarre. Imagine a world where people don’t feel the need to tell us what they had for breakfast, or what they are watching on TV later that night?
Although these are just predictions, it really got me thinking about how many of us utilise social media, and whether this generation really has gone too far towards the extreme side of the social media scale. I share a lot of personal things on here, but my driving force has always been a positive one. Social media is obviously an incredibly powerful tool, and if we can connect people and make them feel less alone, I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
However, this podcast discussion really got me thinking about all of the mindless things I share – mostly on Instagram stories. The stuff I share out of habit, when really I could be using my time more wisely and cutting down on screen time. Instagram is a fun way of sharing for the most part, but as I’m getting older, I’m really starting to dwell on the negative affects it might have long term. I don’t want to feel ruled by my Iphone, nor do I want to feel like I’m missing out on life if I spend a couple of days off the gram. This year, I’ve slowly started to make a few changes that I hope will impact me positively long term – they are pretty basic things, but they are encouraging me to create more moments of privacy, and experience less social media guilt…
I’ve been leaving my phone behind whenever possible – If I’m walking to the shops or nipping to the gym for example. Neither places are too far away, and I really don’t need to be taking my phone with me. I have a bad habit of walking with my phone in my hand and just scrolling aimlessly. I’m making a conscious effort to look around more and just generally be more present. I’ve also been charging my phone in a different room to the one I’m sleeping in – Sam’s alarm goes off in the morning so there’s no need for me to have it sitting on my bedside table.
Not replying to every email right away – This sounds silly, but I have a really strong urge to reply to an email as soon as it lands in my mail box. Even if it’s not urgent. It’s almost like it’s anxiety fuelled, and I’ve really been trying to just respond to emails and messages in terms of priority. If I spend an hour replying to things that aren’t urgent, I’ve then wasted time that could have been spent writing or being productive in a more efficient way.
Making plans that don’t involve social media – Whether it’s doing an outside activity or just having a day back at home with my Mum. I’m a big fan of those days when I don’t feel compelled to pick up my phone and share what I’m doing. It’s important to make plans like this whenever possible. I don’t always feel great when I share family and friends on social media so I’ve been doing it much less – I’d much rather just enjoy those times without documenting them to seem more ‘relatable or normal’. I guess it really just depends on my mood that day and who I happen to be with. Essentially, I’ve been trying to separate my work from my private life so that I don’t end up feeling like social activities are an extension of my work.
Monitoring my screen time & deleting apps for the weekend – If it really feels impossible to leave your phone behind for a few hours, this is a great way to ensure it’s a less appealing tool in general. Delete the apps that are causing you anxiety for the weekend. You can always re-download them, but you’re likely to think it through a little more before you do it. Monitoring screen time is a great reality check too – nothing quite like your phone telling you you’ve averaged six hours a day for the last week. I’m making an effort to stop damaging my eyeballs and frying my brain cells – I schedule regular breaks away from my laptop/phone where possible and it really makes me feel a lot lighter at the end of the day. Reading a book for an hour in the evening is something I’m trying to get back into the routine of doing – books can be just as addictive as social media but without any of the negative side affects. Unless its a particularly bad book of course…
Ultimately, I don’t need to catch up with everyone, and neither do you – If you’ve been having some time away from social media for the sake of your mental health then please don’t feel bad about it. So you might have missed your friends holiday snaps or the birth of someones baby that you met at a party once – these things really aren’t important in the grand scheme of things! You don’t need to be liking every picture or commenting on every story in order to be a supportive person. Check in and catch up in real life – real friends will understand that being supportive on social media shouldn’t be held in the same regard as being supportive in real life. There’s lots of different ways to champion the people you love!
Although all of this seems like really obvious stuff to put into practice, it’s harder than we anticipate to reclaim our own time again once we start down a rocky road of poor social media habits. Above all, the internet should merely be an enhancement of our real lives, and we have to be careful not to forget about our mental wellbeing in the process. Here’s to not being dictated to buy our busy phone screens, and heading to more places where there’s no Wifi guaranteed….
Photographs taken by Catherine Booty
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