Microchips with digital hand readers to speed up your daily routine? Amazon Echo answering your every question in less than a few seconds? Smartphones that interpret your biometrics at the touch of a fingerprint? There’s no question that technology is syncing more and more closely to our everyday lives and even with our biology. If we’re being realistic, the days of analog watches and taking notes with a pen and paper are miles and miles behind us, leaving us to adapt to the futuristic times we’re living in.
All of these advances in technology have without a doubt impacted our social lives as well, arguably expedited by the COVID pandemic, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. But the key is that we can control what use social media has in our lives and how it impacts us emotionally, physically and even spiritually. How can we find balance?
Identify Your Purpose On Social Media
Many of us have fallen into the trap: you open Instagram or TikTok and suddenly three hours later, you don’t even remember why you opened the app in the first place. Social media is made to keep you interested, but sometimes not having a purpose can be detrimental and overly time consuming.
Maybe your job requires time on social media, or perhaps your whole career is centered around social media management or content creation. Or it may be that in the midst of pandemic shutdowns and social distancing, social media has been a convenient way to stay connected to friends and family. Whatever it is that keeps you connected on social media, be sure to have a purpose. Avoid mindless scrolling. Before you open that app or login, ask yourself: what am I doing here?
Take a minute to think about how many accounts you have and which ones you use regularly. If your goal is to stay connected with friends and family, is having five different accounts and spending time on each of those everyday really helping you accomplish that goal or is it drawing you away from those you love?
If your purpose on social media is to be inspired by the work and talent of others, what accounts are you following? Are there any that distract you from your ultimate reason for using social media?
Being selective with 1) which social media accounts you have and 2) who you follow and engage with requires some discipline, but will be helpful in balancing social media with real life.
Set Your Boundaries
Five practical tools and rules that can help you set and maintain boundaries with social media, whether you use it for personal or professional reasons, can be things like:
no social media on Sundays – take a day of rest and you’ll be shocked at how refreshed you feel the next day
no screens at night – set a specific time each night that you’re done with social media for the day, whether that be after dinner or right when you get in bed
get a real alarm clock – try to designate the first hour in the morning to something other than your phone such as prayer and meditation, exercise, reading or simply drinking your morning coffee without the noise and distraction of the digital world
try apps like Freedom – there are productivity apps that restrict when and how much time you can spend on certain apps
set designated hour(s) of the day for social media – set a timer if you have to, but try not to exceed your selected time limit
Turn Off Notifications
You’d be surprised at how effective notifications are for grabbing our attention and distracting us from the task at hand. Say you’re reading a book and your phone buzzes, notifying you that someone tagged you in a photo and suddenly you’re scrolling through Facebook and have forgotten completely about your book!
Give it a try! Turn off notifications on your phone for a day and be mindful of what you accomplish that day.
Prioritize Real Over Virtual
Perhaps the most important rule in finding balance with social media is simply this: prioritize real life over virtual life. Every single time.
When there are other people present, don’t isolate yourself on your phone and mindlessly scroll. The phone will always be there, but your loved ones won’t.
So while it’s inevitable that social devices and media become more unavoidable in the modern world, it is that much more important to take action in finding balance. For most, cutting social media out of their lives is not realistic. But it is realistic to determine your purpose with social media and set boundaries so that real life is still more in focus than the digital world.