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There are benefits and drawbacks to everything, and social media is not exempt. On the one hand, social media can be riveting. There’s comedy, drama, action, sports–you name it, and you can find it on a social network of your choice. Brands and social movements use social media to effectively champion their missions while mom and pop shops spread the word about their latest product.
On the other hand, social media can also be a toxic wasteland of negativity, nihilism, and name-calling. Many studies, even ones conducted by Facebook, have shown that social media use correlates with a decrease in optimal mental health for its users. Other studies have shown a drastic uptick in depression in adolescents since the “like” feature was integrated on most platforms.
Listen–there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do social media. Like anything, too much social media can make you sick. In small doses, though, social media can be a powerful tool for business and a mental health tool for those who understand its educational potential. At the same time, people who receive an ADHD diagnosis online often cite social media as a significant distraction during work, conversations, and daily life.
Here are a few ways you can curb social media use, so you don’t end up doomscrolling your days away.
If you’re frustrated with the perennial carousel of frequent social media use, there’s one great way to eliminate your woes – delete the apps.
Now I understand you still want to hop on Instagram during your lunch break and peruse the latest happenings. But here’s the issue: if you’re struggling with even the slightest form of social media addiction, it won’t help to tease your inner social media deviant with a quick, unsatisfying burst of digital dopamine. You need a detox, and the only way to do that is to get rid of the apps.
Don’t worry, though. It doesn’t have to be forever. Apps like Instagram and Twitter allow users to suspend their accounts. When users decide to come back, it’s like they never left!
So, give it a shot. The only thing you have to lose is a nasty doomscrolling habit.
Most smartphones have a nifty feature called “focus mode.” Focus mode allows users to essentially turn their mobile phone into an expensive paperweight that only allows pre-approved contacts to call or text. While in focus mode, some phones and apps can record your activity, providing historical data and visual feedback detailing your focused efforts.
Most focus modes can block your choice of apps from being opened or accessed. If you couldn’t commit to deleting your apps, you can at the very least block them during focus mode so you can’t access them.
If you find yourself using social media during lunch breaks, trips to the store, school-sponsored outings, and just about any other task you can safely scroll through, it may behoove you to leave the darn thing at home.
Yes, of course, you need it for emergencies, but if you consider a rapid decline in mental health an emergency, you should feel at ease leaving it in a drawer while you jog around the neighborhood. Also, keep in mind that 20 years ago, we didn’t have smartphones, and we turned out fine! (Okay, we still have work to do, but you get the point.)
Try this: for quick excursions that don’t need you to be tethered to your phone, leave the phone at home. Record in a journal any feelings of emptiness, sadness, or any other negative emotion that strikes you in a journal. By the end of the week, if you’re diligent, you should experience a reduction in anxiety as your dopamine levels begin to normalize.
Get Social (The Other Kind!)
Social media is unique in that it’s a channel that both favors anonymity and encourages social interaction. Unruly users get a kick out of antagonizing others with the cloak of secrecy the internet offers. It’s undeniably true that hurt people hurt people. How can you get away from this kind of vile venom? Talk to real people.
You remember them, right? Your friends, family members, mentors, mentees, mail carriers–care about you (maybe not the mailman) and want to see you progress in life. Sure, family and friends may get on your nerves at times, and they rarely ever frequent your news feed to like your posts, so brushing them off is easy.
But don’t take loved ones for granted. When all is said and done, and the twilight of your life is upon you, it’s these people who will crowd your bedside while the Instafollowers “mourn” your loss for likes.
Take Up a Hobby
Hobbies can be a great way to make new IRL friends, expend stress, get fit, flex your creative muscles, and meet a new flame. In fact, these are all the kinds of things people would love to see on your Instagram feed.
But you’re not going to Snap, Tweet, TikTok, or Facebook these moments, will you? No! Instead, you’ll enjoy them for what they are, using the oldest, most revered technology in the world to record your experiences–your brain.
That’s right–old-fashioned memories will be your callback device. Snap a few photos if you want, too, but for God’s sake, do not whip your smartphone out during a hiking trip to write a 700-word caption on a flower you found along the way.
As a matter of fact, keep the phone in a drawer, as was suggested earlier. You are listening, right? Wait a sec. Are you doomscrolling right now?