Taking back control of your social media

Control your social media or it will control you. Without you even realising, it will dictate your schedule, your mood and even your health. Being intentional leads you where YOU want to go, not where others are pulling you.

  • turn off notifications
  • follow inspiring people
  • post intentional content
  • find authentic connection

TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS

If you were in the middle of doing something and someone just walked up to you with complete disregard for your current preoccupation and started talking about something completely unrelated, it might seem a bit (or very) rude. Yet, we allow ourselves to be constantly interrupted by little notifications popping up on our phone screens at any hour of the day.

The first step is to put your phone on silent which is, thankfully, more and more common. Secondly, go into your phone settings, find notifications and turn them off for all apps except the absolutely essential ones.

A part of you will resist doing this. That is because that little hit of dopamine you receive every time someone has ‘liked’ or commented on your post makes those notifications addictive. Yes, psychologists have studied this and proven that we are addicted to social media. Acknowledge the resistance and turn off the notifications anyway.

We also have FOMO where we think we will miss something important if we’re not being constantly notified. Well you won’t. If there is an emergency and you are needed, someone will call you. For everything else, you’ll see it when YOU decide to open that app, not when someone else decides to like, comment or post.

The only notifications I receive on my phone are through WhatsApp which is where I will be contacted for anything important. For over 4 years I haven’t received Instagram, Facebook or YouTube notifications. So even if social media part of your job (as is my case), it’s still not a good enough excuse. You’ll probably be spending plenty of time on the app anyway so you’ll see everything that you need to when you decide to login.

FOLLOW INSPIRING PEOPLE

You get to decide what you see on social media. Follow people who genuinely inspire you to be the best version of yourself. Don’t follow people who make you feel envy. Don’t follow people who spread negativity and drama. Don’t follow people just because they have a big following. Don’t follow people just to look at… we are humans, not objects. I mean how does looking at photos of attractive people actually inspire you to be a better person if you’re really honest with yourself?! Having said that, there are plenty of good-looking people also doing great things and spreading wonderful ideas. So follow them for that!

Of course, you don’t have to do any of what I just said. Everything you choose in life should be because you want to, not because someone else told you to. Take time to actually think about how you feel and what desires start to form while you’re scrolling. Do you want to buy more things? Do you feel like you should be prettier? Richer? More ‘successful’? Do you feel like your life isn’t good enough? OR do you feel inspired to cook a healthy meal? Do something nice for someone you love? Invest in your own career or personal growth? Try something new you think you’ll enjoy? Get involved in a cause you feel passionate about?

The way social media makes us feel is not to be underestimated. We spend so much time over the course of a week scrolling, posting, liking and commenting that the least we can do is make sure it’s a positive, inspiring experience.

INTENTIONAL CONTENT

Just as it’s important to be intentional about who you follow and what you’re consuming, it’s a good idea to also be mindful of what you’re putting out there. Social media is NOT a replacement for genuine relationships in your life.

If you’re feeling lonely and sad, social media seems like an easy fix but instead of sharing a post to see how many people comment and ‘care’ about you, think of one person in your life who you can call or meet up with and have a conversation with them. Talk about your feelings with someone you trust rather than relying on ‘likes’ or ‘loves’ on a social media post.

If you’re feeling insecure, don’t post a photo of yourself half naked or plastered in make up to see how much ‘approval’ you can get from people on your social media. Call up a friend and do something you enjoy. Go for a run, meditate, dance, play a game, make a smoothie, watch a TED talk. Any of these will do more for genuine self-confidence than looking for ‘likes’ on social media.

If you’re angry at someone, don’t post something passive aggressive for others to see. Either speak directly to the person (not via social media) or find a way to forgive them by trying to understand their perspective so you can be at peace. Again, you have real life people who love and support you. Rely on them, not acquaintances on social media. Yes, it requires you to be vulnerable in front of a real person, not in front of a screen, but vulnerability is something which creates a deep connection between people.

Of course we might share the odd post relating to one of the things I talked about above, but mainly, it’s a good idea to share content which is either inspiring, educational or entertaining (in a positive way). It DOES matter what you post about, your voice IS important and impactful. Just as people who complain a lot will find life gives them more and more things to complain about, if you share inspiring, important or positive things on social media, life will give you more of that!

FIND AUTHENTIC CONNECTION

Let’s end on a positive. Social media is an incredible resource for meeting people who ‘get’ us, who have a similar interest or who inspire us. But let’s take the initiative to act on these connections we’ve found. Organise a meet-up for some of the people you’ve met online. Even if you’re on the other side of the world, you can go from liking each others posts to having a more authentic interaction via direct message. Instead of just consuming more and more content, let’s build on the connections we’ve already made!

I’ve met some great people, some of whom have become my good friends through social media. When I travel somewhere new, I reach out to the adult ballet community and I know I will get to meet like-minded and fun people wherever I am. I can’t think of a better use of social media than being a tool to bring people together in real life. Whether it’s to encourage people to get together to protest climate change, meet-up to do an activity, create a support group, connect with someone in a new city or even meet your life partner, shifting our focus from content consumption to human connection will mean we make the most of social media.

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