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I’ve often thought that social media has ruined the nature of real-life relationships in a lot of ways.
There was a time that you didn’t have to know everyone’s opinions about everything.
You didn’t know what everyone had for dinner every night. And it was fine. We were fine.
But once you know, you can’t un-know. And then this weird thing happens: you want to know more. They want to know more. And on it goes.
That’s just one aspect of the dark side of social media. It gets its ugly tentacles wrapped around us and holds on tight.
But it can only have the power over us that we allow it to. Whether it’s the addictive nature, or the content itself (negativity, conflict, drama) – it doesn’t have to rule our time, our thoughts, or our lives.
As a Christian, I have really come to terms over the last several years with the amount of time I spend on any media, but especially social media and its strange, joy-stealing tendency.
So if you’re in a similar place, today I want to share some of the ways I’ve found to distance myself from social media and put it in its proper place in my life.
It’s not enough for me to be reminded to limit my time on my devices. I had to really examine the way I thought about social sharing and build better habits, to protect what really matters to me most.
I hope these ideas help you to regain healthier boundaries – and avoid the very real effects of social media fatigue.
1| Limit apps and/or make them difficult to access
The bad news is that technology can be a burden. The good news is that technology itself can provide some remedy to the problems it creates.
Several months ago, I deleted Facebook from my phone, and the only way I can see the newsfeed is to access it via my phone’s browser.
It’s slow, clunky and doesn’t work as well as the app in general- which is a great thing for me.
I’m down to checking the news feed about twice a day, and usually I give up after a few minutes of frustration.
Since I spend a lot of time on my laptop, I also downloaded the Chrome extension, “News Feed Eradicator for Facebook”. (There are similar versions for Instagram and other platforms.)
I can still see my notifications and navigate to specific pages if I need to – but the temptation to scroll the feed is removed. This keeps me focused on my work, where my focus needs to be when I’m on my laptop.
Another thing to think about is how many social media apps you really need in the first place. I recently started secondary social media accounts for the first time (after only having Facebook for years) – mainly for business purposes.
But for personal use, one platform where most of my friends can be found, is enough.
2| Build in more face to face conversation time
Another “remedy” to social media fatigue is simply more social time with our real-life friends.
We need quality time with those we love and who fill our cup in ways social media simply cannot.
God created us for relationships. Meaningful relationships can only be built with time, sacrifice and weathering the storms of life together- scenarios which are just hard to nurture authentically, through a screen.
What I really mean is, you need people in your life who see you at your worst, on the days you look nothing like your profile picture – and still love you.
And even though I’m surrounded by my family all day, I think as a mom I crave that social connection with other women that I’m often missing because I don’t take the time to invest in my friends as much as I should (in person).
In a study performed comparing the level of bonding that friends experience between text, audio, video and in-person communication, guess which mode of communication won out? In-person communication, every time.
As a mom of four, I get that it can be hard to meet with friends in person, but I also know the tremendous value of even infrequent get-togethers.
3| Replace media habits with fulfilling tasks
Once I deleted Facebook from my phone, I realized how much more time I had for doing other things that I love, like reading and listening to podcasts.
In fact, I’ve read more books in the last year than I have in the previous 5 years combined.
It’s sobering to think about all the time I’ve wasted scrolling a news feed over the last decade.
Whatever hobbies or interests you might have – you might also find that this is the year to pursue them.
In the increasingly hostile world of social media, taking time to learn a new skill, be inspired by a biography, or redecorate the living room might just be the respite you didn’t know you needed.
4| No phones at bedtime
I’ve found it interesting how reading the same news story at night versus daytime can have a dramatically different effect on my emotions.
Let’s face it, a lot of the news we read (or that’s being discussed) on social media is sad and discouraging these days.
The future can feel more bleak than it actually (likely) is, when you’re scrolling soundbytes in the dark.
I think my mind goes into overdrive on the worst-case scenarios, especially at the end of a long day, and I don’t sleep well if I scroll my phone before bed.
Making it a habit to turn off all electronics and not even glance at them once I’m in bed, has helped my state of mind more than I can explain.
If you’re finding that you feel anxious and unsettled at night, set some boundaries on what you’re filling your mind with before you turn out the lights.
5| Set boundaries on what you share
At the risk of sounding like the Grinch of all Moms Ever, there’s one more thing that can keep the stress of social media at a minimum, if you’re truly struggling in this area, and it’s this:
Stop oversharing, or sharing so often.
Let some things be sacred again. There’s a delightful freedom in stepping back and saying – this is my memory to cherish; not theirs.
Soak in the moments that are right in front of you, and don’t feel bad if you decide to keep those moments to yourself and those closest to you.
There’s nothing wrong with letting the larger world into our private lives per se. But once we start feeling obliged to – or worse, our self esteem hinges on sharing – this is where it becomes an unhealthy habit.
One last question
When I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by the addiction factor and the cacophony that pretty much defines most online forums, I have to ask myself: Is what I’m gaining from social media outweighing what I’m losing?
- Time with my family
- Time for fulfilling hobbies
- Time for fresh air and sunshine
- Time with God
Our apps have given us an easy button for instant, surface-level connections. As with most technology, there’s a time and place to enjoy it.
But let’s remember that’s all they were ever meant to provide, and not let them substitute for the Better Things that nourish our hearts, minds and souls.