Social media has simultaneously been a safe haven for me through the course of the pandemic as well as being quite tiresome. Somewhere between attempting to learn dances from TikTok and the hours spent scrolling through Instagram, I realised just how much of my time it’s been eating up.
For personal reasons, I will not share what my screen time has been in the past (hint : it ain’t pretty), but it has been a massive wake up call on taking time away from my phone and utilising it elsewhere. Whilst it’s been a great tool to stay connected to your besties, reach out to loved ones and keep up with your fav accounts (such as @wearegrlknd), it’s always nice to take time away and see where else it can be spent.
Through the course of the pandemic, I decided to delete instagram - the biggest culprit of my screen time, to see the changes that happen in my life.
Being in Melbourne and living in a lockdown for the better part of last year and seeing what friends in other states and places (shout out to New Zealand) were doing was making me anxious and jittery.
Of course the lockdown had nothing to do with it, more so it highlighted for me that I was not really having fun with social media anymore and haven't had a good balance with it for a long time. It's deceiving because more often than not, you only get to see the "highlights" of a person's life.
A lot of my usage seemed to have to do with showing that I was having fun and have felt like a competition of sorts in my eyes as to “who is doing the most” and has a better highlight reel. It essentially resulted in mental fatigue.
In any case, taking some time away and coming back to it with a better mindset has helped immensely and here’s how I did it.
1. Track your usage
By utilising the various means on your phone (and laptop) to be able to track your screen time you’ll be able to analyse the data and see what it indicates. If you are anything like me, I tend to reach for the apps when I’m bored or even just to have a glance at my phone.
Set yourself small goals to reduce your screen time by 30 minutes each week. This will help form healthy habits in the long run
2. Turn off your notifications
This was an absolute game-changer for me. Turn off your notifications on the apps you find yourself spending the most time on. Getting notifications on an acquaintance commenting on their friend’s facebook is adding no real enrichment to your life, but it is reducing your attention on whatever you were originally trying to focus on, it takes you away from now. By turning the notifications off, you'll be playing on your own terms as to when you wish to check your social media, not the other way around.
3. Take the moment in for what it is
Okay had to chuck in a cliche one here but it is true. The most amazing concert I have gone to, I watched it through my camera lens as opposed to being there in the moment and staying present. You can get so caught up with taking the perfect shot, you lose perspective and it’s honestly not worth it in the long run. I don't think I've ever gone back to watch those videos!
4. Unfollow accounts that don’t bring you joy
Do a massive cleanse of the people you have connected with or currently follow and hit that unfollow button, you won’t regret it. You have a duty to yourself to respect your physical and mental well being and if seeing posts aren’t helping you grow, stop it from showing up in the first place.
Remember that you do get to decide what kind of content that you want to engage with.
5. Reach out for the content of those you really care about.
In the age of social media networking, communication skills have become key and are more important now than ever. Talk to your friends and family and find out what they’ve been up to will allow you to connect and consume the updates/photos of those you really care about.
Social media has given numerous organisations, creatives and others a platform to show their talents, share beautiful moments from their lives and impart knowledge to people all across the world.
So it's not all bad, it's more how you manage your time and relationship with social media usage, something which I am trying to work on every day.
What are some ways in how you might be creating healthy boundaries between you and social media usage?
art by instagram.com/wetheurban
By Shreya Basu, Inclusion Advocate at GRLKND