Social media – an empowering platform or unnecessary evil? Depends on who you ask.
As a marketing consultant and millennial blogger, I spend a lot of time on social media. Posting, streaming, tweeting, and snapping my life, along with the curated content of my client’s, is broadcasted 24/7. The internet never sleeps, and given that my bread and butter is reliant on social media, I found it tempting to justify being “plugged in” around the clock.
Turns out, I’m not the only super “social” professional out there; recent studies show that Americans check their phones an average of 46 times a day and spend over two hours a day logged into a social media platform (some studies reported upwards of five hours a day). Constantly being plugged into social apps has been repeatedly linked with dangerous physical and mental health effects, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, neck pain, poor posture, and vision problems.
While super “social individuals may feel more “connected” to other people through social media use, such connectivity fails to provide the positive health benefits of in-person interaction. In fact, excessive social media use can interfere with the face-to-face social exchanges our bodies crave, further exacerbating the potential negative effects of social media.
So what’s a tech-dependent professional to do? If you’re like me, dropping social media cold turkey isn’t a feasible option; instead, you can implement key social media habits to help minimize negative effects while optimizing digital opportunities.
Here are a few social media strategies I use to stay healthy and sane:
How many engaging conversations, inspiring moments, and enjoyable activities have been interrupted by the beep, chime, or chirp of a cell phone notification?
By disabling social media notifications from your phone, you can stop the intrusive interruptions right in their tracks. Review social alerts on a schedule, like 3 PM on weekdays and 10 AM on weekends, and stop accepting the notifications on a “rolling” basis.
If your job depends on more consistent social interaction, consider investing in a second phone (or ask your employer to) that is reserved for work use. By keeping your digital interactions compartmentalized to the task at hand, you can help minimize that annoying “on-call” feel that so often erodes the social savvy’s psyche.By disabling social media notifications from your phone, you can stop the intrusive interruptions right in their tracks. Click To Tweet
Mindless scrolling through social feeds serves very little purpose and has been routinely linked with encouraging a destructive pattern of constant peer comparison, accompanied by heightened anxiety and depression. While “scrolling” has evolved as a socially-acceptable way to pass the time, consider replacing those unproductive moments with something more fruitful, like yoga, meditation, reading a book, or even small talk.
When logging into social apps, I find it helpful to be intentional – have a predetermined purpose – for using the platform. Maybe it’s to message your college besties and catch-up, or maybe it’s to do a little market research on your industry or customers – both intentional actions to justify social media use. Act with intention and nix the time-wasting scroll.Act with intention and nix the time-wasting scroll. Click To Tweet
Prioritize IRL Interactions
Before the emergence of social media apps and smartphones, my in-person social calendar stayed quite busy – book clubs, coffees, dinners, and workout groups were just a few of the regular activities that filled my days. Since social sent our pre-tech relationship strategy into a distant orbit, it’s easy to forfeit or neglect “in-real-life” (IRL) interactions in lieu of superficial social media comments; however, the effects of a disintegrated IRL network can be catastrophic.
Don’t let social media updates and interactions replace your IRL activities. Prioritize brunch with your besties, schedule coffee with your mentors, and stop substituting FaceTime as “visiting” with your mom. As our world becomes more and more dependent upon digital interaction, the ability and access to IRL interactions will only continue to grow in necessity.Don’t let social media updates and interactions replace your IRL activities. Click To Tweet
Social media can be awesome; however, if not managed well, it can wreak some pretty disastrous effects. By disabling phone notifications, being intentional with your activity, and prioritizing IRL social interactions, today’s busy tech-based professional can help reclaim their sanity and maintain a healthy lifestyle. While stepping away from constant “socializing” may initially make you feel as if you are “missing out”, the reality is that every time you’re scrolling through social content, you are missing everything that’s going on around you.