Social media is a fun way to stay connected to loved ones. But when social apps take most of your day, you may ask yourself if it is time for a break.
Social media fills our lives with the good: Entertainment, news, learning things that may improve your career or general knowledge, social relations, and business opportunities.
Social media fills our lives with evil: misdirection, fears, insomnia, and attention disorders, limited privacy, over-sharing, social narcissism.
Is social media your med?
The use of social networks is omnipresent. Excessive use of social apps can also negatively affect your personal way of life, or your ability to find a job. This blog post will help you determine whether or not your use of social networks can be a problem and comes with a few suggestions on how to improve it.
It is a certainty that this disease is spreading rapidly among people. I see it in individuals in their cars near me at the stoplights. I see it at restaurants where families and couples gather, but they rarely look at each other. And I see it in the corridors of the academic world and the suburb sidewalks, where students and many others walk like zombies, heads down and ignoring the surrounding environments.
Of course, if you didn’t guess, I’m talking about SMA (Social Media Addiction). Yes, that is a real thing. I blame Zuckerberg, Page, Dorsey, Silbermann, Hurley, Systrom, Spiegel, McCue, Mullenweg and others. These digital titans are the facilitators and responsible for this disease called Social Media Addiction.
A simple test for Social Media Addiction:
- Do you check your social media before getting up from bed in the morning?
- Do you check your social networks more often during the day than you check your e-mail?
- Are you driven by selfies in your social sharing behavior?
- Have you ever checked Twitter while driving (or at a stop)?
- Is it difficult to go 24 hours without checking your Facebook?
- Do others ask you regularly to leave your smartphone and talk, sleep, eat or pay attention?
- Have you ever bumped into something or someone while looking down on social media on your phone?
If you answered yes to most of the questions above, then social media is your virtual medicine.
Why is SMA a problem? Ironically, the most important negative effects of SMA on you are physical rather than digital.
A digital distraction
Research shows that we are really missing from our physical environment and our surroundings because we are led by our fear of not losing (FOMO) all the interesting things that are rapidly shared within social networks.
Recent academic research has shown that students spend up to 20% of class time using digital devices for non-learning activities, such as text and social media messages. Students as well, have acknowledged that as a result, they are not paying attention and are missing important pieces of information.
Now apply the same results to people going through other experiences. Their lack of self-control when using social networks makes them lose quite a big part of life: Attempts to chat with friends and family, opportunities to meet new people and establish relationships, or the simple pleasure of observing your surroundings.
Beyond anecdotes, there is also research to support the idea that excessive use of social networks steals big parts of our sleep.
This loss of sleep occurs in two forms. For instance, the time used for social networks at bedtime is biting from our actual resting sleep time. Secondly, the screens of these mobile devices, we take to bed with us, emit a blue light that delays the release of the melatonin hormone. The lack of this hormone, which makes us sleepy, delays our sleep and encourages the continuous and possibly excessive use of social networks. The result is that the lack of sleep can make us, the next day, be less concentrated, less efficient, less creative, and less productive.
Excessive information sharing (TMI)
Old habits die hard. And so are new habits.
Excessive use of social networks can confuse our perceptions of “personal life” and what we share with friends and family with “our professional life”, and what we share with professionals (professional contacts, career stakeholders, and current and potential employers and colleagues).
How long should a break from social media be?
A one-month break can really free your mind and relax your brain. If you want to do this, don’t hesitate to notify your friends and family so they can contact you in other ways.
Sets up an app that blocks specific websites and access to social sites on your phone and computer. Turn on the “lock” for 2 to 4 hours every day to take short breaks from social media and focus your attention on something else.
You can also quit social media for an entire day. It’s a nice way to give yourself a quick break and use that time to do whatever you want.
Another method of digital detoxification, not very drastic, is to spend an hour a day on social networks. For example when you’re on your way to work. Go on scrolling an hour one time, but stop doing it for the rest of the day.
What you should do regarding your SMA?
Abandoning social media is probably not the best solution, although some have certainly done it, and many have thought to do so. Instead, try to gain better control over your social media behavior, being very firm on how you want to manage and control your personal data.
- Focus on just some social platforms
You don’t have to take excessively dramatic steps to eradicate your Feed’s noise, by abandoning most of your connections.
Instead, focus on one or two social platforms. Find your favorites. You can choose one for professional use and another for personal use and spend less time on social media. It is better to be a master of one than an amateur of many.
- Eliminate digital entertainment
Stop the notifications. Do you really need an alert every time a tweet is retweeted? Or when a new email arrives? Or, when a Facebook friend comments?
Excessive use of notifications can interrupt your flow. And yes, I am talking about your creative flow. Creative flow is equivalent to a runner’s high performance or a state of extreme focus.
If lately, you have not experienced this psychological flow that I’m referring to, then you should stop right now and go to your smart devices’ settings for all your platforms, apps, and social media tools. Then turn off all notifications.
- Move your digital devices out of the bedroom.
Yes, sleep deprivation is one of the most serious side effects of SMA. Even with sound notifications off, the blue lights of your favorite digital app are constantly worsening your insomnia.
Even though Apple is one of the companies that have a solution for this, with its latest update that includes night Shift, smart devices will continue to rob you of your precious sleep time.
So, the best solution is to move these devices and the temptation to “scroll just one more time” to another room, or at least farther than an arm’s length.
Yes, I already know what you’re thinking: “But I need my alarm clock.” Or “I have to check my Internet of things (IoT).”
Instead, increase the alarm volume so that you can hear it from farther away or from the other room. Or, another idea would be to buy an analog sleep clock.
- Do not let smart devices make you look bad.
And once you have banned the smart devices out of your bedroom, do the same for the dining room, the meeting room, and the classroom.
When social networks and all digital things become mobile, this can take from your attention and diminish your psychological flow for thought and creativity.
- Stop flirting with the fear of losing something (FOMO).
“I have a few more folders in Feedly that I have to check, so I’m among the first to share the good things in society.”
“I need to browse a few more pages in my Flipboard in case something happened in the news in the last five minutes.”
“I need a minute more in my Twitter Home feed, in case there’s a dancer or a panda video.”
No, no. The world can continue without you knowing about it in detail. In addition, the biggest med to pass the fear of losing is to realize that the best things will be shared socially, appreciated, restarted, with the heart
- Keep some secrets for yourself.
The more we share on social networks, the more we want to be accepted. The more we want to be accepted, the more we share on social. We live our social life in a loop, a carousel of chaos, all fueled by our dependence on social media and the need for attention, recognition or applause.
- Do not let social media narcissism run free.
At some point in our existence of social sharing, we enable notifications and disable privacy, and our whole life becomes an open book of extreme transparency.
Social media experts tell us to be genuine, to be real, and to be us. However, even when we should do this, we should do it with filters.
In this digital age in which anyone can easily search you and find a real you, unrestrained and raw, it is not a good thing to be all that exposed. Good personal branding needs to be controlled, needs filters, and should show ‘the best of you’ rather than ‘everything’.
- What should I do if I quit social media?
Find a new hobby. What did you always want to try, but never had the time? Now that social media doesn’t steal your time away, go outside and do something interesting. Take a walk in the nature, try hiking, go to the pool, host a game evening with friends, or simply spend time with the loved ones.
Talk to friends and family about it. Perhaps they can give you advice and support you in this “detoxification.” Some of them might join you! When you talk to them, you can explain why you are taking a break and what you hope to get.
When we can restrict much of the use of our social networks, we can sleep deeply, we can learn passionately, have a creativity flow and enjoy the beneficial parts of the digital and analog life.