The measures I take to stay sane while using social media are far greater than most people.
Many people will read this and think “why not just delete your social media accounts?”
Maybe I should delete my social media, but for now I have a brilliant way to use social media intelligently. I took a poll on my Twitter about other people’s social media habits and the results were shocking.
I asked people, “would you want to maintain your current level of [social media] use for the rest of your life?”
Social Media Usage Poll
This is a relatively small poll, with only 1.5 thousand people, and the sample includes a lot of my Twitter followers (idiots), but the numbers speak for themselves.
People don’t want to use social media as much as they currently do!
Delete social media apps off your smartphone
The simple premise behind this idea is that you want to minimize the amount of distraction from your phone. Social media apps are notorious for overusing push notifications. These are the notifications that pop up on your mobile device.
Apps can send them at any time, and they often abuse this privilege by sending targeted notifications when they think you are most likely to check your phone.
I know what you are thinking.
Can’t I Just Turn Off Notifications?
You should not turn off notifications and keep the apps on your phone. The temptation will be too great. You don’t have unlimited willpower, don’t waste it on your cell phone. The psychological literature shows that will power is limited.
“A growing body of research shows that resisting repeated temptations takes a mental toll. Some experts liken willpower to a muscle that can get fatigued from overuse.” (Source) Your willpower will be drained, and you will be less likely to resist other temptations in your life. The psychology and productivity affirm my beliefs about how distracting smartphones are.
Harvard Business Review’s article, Just Hearing Your Phone Buzz Hurts Your Productivity states, “basically, just having your phone near you can distract you and negatively affect your work performance. And this distraction-by-notification might even be comparable to interacting with your phone”
By extension I believe using social media on you smartphone puts you in a frame of mind where you often think about checking social media on your smartphone. The only logical choice is to delete social media apps from your smartphone, or downgrade to a dumb phone.
Social Media algorithms are created to maximize the attention extracted from the user. Social Media companies make money from advertising. These advertisers tailor their ads to get the most clicks and attention.
You need to cut off these algorithms at the source.
Unfollowing on Facebook
Imagine not wasting your time ever scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed. I never hear anyone talking about using Facebook like this. I’m not sure if it’s just me, or if people who would go this far just delete Facebook instead. You can unfollow people and still remain friends with them – their posts simply don’t show up on your newsfeed.
When you are viewing any Facebook post, click the three dots in the top right corner and choose to unfollow the person. I have unfollowed everyone I am friends with and unliked every page. I have now news feed on Facebook and it’s great.
Muting Words on Twitter
I have mixed feelings about Twitter, I enjoy the great conversation people are having on Twitter as a platform. However, Twitter attracts narcissists and the tweets that do the best are usually the most grandiose rather than the most correct.
My biggest beef with Twitter is of course the American political dialogue. Twitter seems to be a battleground between the right wing and the left wing.
I simply muted the words that are used exclusively in conversations I do not want to see on Twitter.
Instagram does not fit in a plan to stay sane and still use social media. Instagram is the worst social media for making you people feel depressed. Do some searches about “Instagram and depression” and “Instagram and anxiety”. This is something people who use Instagram frequently struggle with,
Late At night
The addictive nature of social media requires limits on its use. The most important time to not use social media is at night, before bed. Using electrons before bed suppresses melatonin and stimulates the brain. You should stop using technology at least 30 minutes before bed.
Early In The Morning
The second time not to check notifications is early in the morning. Social media usage is not part of a productive morning. Early in the morning it’s important to build momentum towards your goals, checking your social media notifications is a great way to ruin this momentum.
Frequency Of Use
This all depends on the person, but do you find yourself checking social media multiple times per day, and you can’t remember the last time you didn’t check? That’s a good signal to decrease the amount of times you check.
I had been overusing my TheGritZone Twitter account in an attempt to raise awareness about this blog. I realized the effort and energy were not worth the reward- so I set up automatic publishing of my blog to the my Twitter feed. Very easy.
On my personal social media accounts – Facebook and LinkedIn, I check my accounts 1-4x per week. Neither are a source of entertainment (no news feed) so I don’t feel a compulsion to check either.
I believe social media and technology are the reason that yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are such a powerful cultural zeitgeist. Humans have never had the amount of technology that we have right now. We are trying to reconcile mental health & sanity with intrusive technology & social media.
When you go on social media, understand why are using it. Take a couple of deep breaths and think about why you are using it. I guarantee this is something you do not do, because social media usage is frequently an unconscious decision.
People pull out their phone and automatically gravitate towards clicking the Instagram app. People open up their internet browser and the website they go to is Twitter or Facebook.
Try being mindful about your social media usage, you will see how much better it is.
This video below is fantastic, I recommend you watch it all. Specifically, at 6:13, Chamath Palihapitiya talks about vigilante lynchings that happened on India because of a Whatsapp hoax. That’s extremely disturbing. The Indian Whatsapp lynchings eventually led to 46 deaths.
Whatsapp, is of course a Facebook company.
Never click advertising or click-bait
The advertising and news articles on social media are all engineered to maximize their click through rate. In internet marketing click through rate is the percentage of times an ad is clicked on. Facebook gives their advertiser demographic data, and then advertisers run tests on different groups to see how much they click different ads.
News companies and online publishers use the exact same psychology as advertisers to increase their clicks.
They are trying to cannibalize your attention, don’t feed the beast. Never click on any of their ads or clickbait and providing revenue to these companies.
You Don’t Need Social Media
I think this is something people forget. You don’t need to have a Facebook or Instagram account. These are not requirements for the modern world.
Market Capitalization (Mkt Cap) is the value of a company’s outstanding shares. It is calculate by multiplying total shares outstanding with share price.
Facebook has a market cap of half a trillion dollars. They are a half trillion dollar advertising and data company.
If you have Facebook you are the product – the company sells advertising to you, and sells your data to private companies.
You have no obligations to multi-billion dollar social media oligarchies. If social media starts to feels like a prison you can delete your accounts.
It will likely force you to establish stronger relationships with the people you care about in your life.
Do you want to live on your own terms or on social media’s terms?