If you haven’t watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix yet, what are you waiting for? This documentary is a must-watch and highlights how addictive social media is—even to the point where it could be detrimental to both your mental and physical health. In a 5,000 person study, it was found that higher social media usage was strongly linked to declines in overall health and life satisfaction.
The documentary also introduces how algorithms can affect our beliefs about the world and those around us. In 2018, an internal Facebook report found that 64% of the people who joined extremist groups through Facebook Groups did so because the algorithms steered them there.
Whether you’ve watched the documentary or not, I am sure the thought has crossed your mind to spend less time on social media and more time in the real world. Or perhaps you’re happy with your time spent on social media but you’re looking to streamline what you see. Here are some helpful tips and tasks to help you effectively manage your virtual life.
Have a clear-out
Set some time to go through your friends and followers to remove anyone you don’t know, have lost touch with or even anyone who doesn’t add something positive to your feed. If you feel uncomfortable removing close friends or family, you can hide them from your timeline or turn off their update notifications. Setting your accounts to private can also help to avoid unwanted or unnecessary notifications.
Check-in with yourself
Regularly checking in with yourself will allow you to evaluate the impact your phone and social media are having on your health and happiness. Being conscious of when something negatively affects you and taking steps to deal with the root of that problem will go a long way.
Be a minimalist
Do you really need all those apps and accounts? Probably not. Going through your accounts and deciding which ones aren’t necessary can help to minimize the temptation of time-wasting on apps that really add little to no value to your life.
Turn off your phone
Turning off your phone on social occasions will help you be more present and have meaningful connections and conversations with your friends and family. Try to also turn off your phone at night or for a few hours of the day. This can help to manage screen time.
What’s the real reason you want the latest iPhone or software update, do you really need it? If you want to use your phone minimally, not joining in on the latest fad will definitely help. Taking a step back from being sold things you don’t need is a wonderful feeling.
Have you recently got a new phone? It may be worth going through it and seeing what is preloaded, especially in the settings. Do you really need all these apps to track your location? Doubt it.
Turn off notifications
Nope, Airplane Mode doesn’t count. Notifications pinging on your phone take you away from being present at any moment and pull you into the land of virtual reality. Resist the temptations by going through your settings and turning off any unnecessary notifications.
Make regular in-person connections
Having face-to-face connections and physical contact with friends and family has been shown to enrich your life and improve your health. Perhaps you can use social media to find new friends but maintain those connections by in-person meet-ups.
Focus on one thing only
Distractions are all too common with technology surrounding us wherever we go. Re-learning how to focus your mind on the task in hand and escaping distractions will help you feel more productive. Avoiding procrastination sessions where you’re endlessly scrolling socials can only be a good thing, right?
Invest in an alarm clock
Using your phone as an alarm clock is risky when it comes to your morning routine. If you find yourself often running late as you’ve sat in bed checking your social feeds, it might be time to think about buying an alarm.
Once you’ve purchased one, storing your phone outside of the bedroom at night will help you to fall asleep faster and sleep better throughout the night. Avoiding blue-light at night and the vibrations of your phone on the nightstand will help you to have an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Stop the scroll
Next time you’re on social media, ask yourself why and what it’s adding to your life. Does scrolling through social accounts and seeing everyone’s highlights make your life feel well lived and satisfactory? The answer is probably no. Make your time on social media meaningful, don’t just endlessly scroll.
Schedule daily screen-free time
It doesn’t have to be at the same time each day, but make sure your spending time away from your phone and even better, with yourself. Go for a walk, do some meditation, or read a book. Try not to rely on your social media accounts to entertain you during downtime. If you find yourself bored with lots of free time, it could be a great opportunity to take up a new hobby.
This one seems obvious, right? With laptops, TVs, and phones, it can be easy to get sucked into the virtual world therefore spending less time in the real world. Going outside more, taking up new activities, and even talking to others you meet along the way is very stimulating.
With fake news spreading faster and wider than real news, it is really important to fact check before hitting send on your post. Even providing references to where you got your information from will inspire others to do the same. The only way as a consumer to mitigate seeing fake news and harmful content is to shop sharing it ourselves.
And finally, unsubscribing. Much like switching off notifications, unsubscribing to unwanted and useless emails will help your time in your inbox be more meaningful. The environment and your bank account will also be pleased to get away from unnecessary spending on the latest must-not miss deals!
At the end of the day, it is down to you. If you’ve watched The Social Dilemma, you will know that we can’t necessarily rely on the owners of these apps or our political leaders to make positive change. As consumers, it is down to us to manage our time on social media, on our phones and also to take action when we are faced with injustices such as harmful ads and inhumane technology.
Wanting to take more action? Check out The Social Dilemma’s website.
Also by Anna: 6 Ways To Creatively Channel Your Inner Activist Through Artivism
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Photo: Anna Ashbarry; Netflix