In a recent Telegraph article, the claim was made that ‘many are choosing to walk away altogether’ from social media. Breaking away from social platforms being compared directly to the all-consuming nature of a relationship.
Individuals, celebrities, sports personalities and even businesses (such as Lush) seem to be ditching social media and finding alternative ways to engage with others. Some, such as Cal Newport (associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University), has famously never set up a social media account and still achieved substantial recognition. He is a strong advocate of a less distracted lifestyle – both for home and work. You can read more about his philosophy and work here.
Anecdotally, we know that social media can be a time-waster and can keep us for a lot longer than we originally intended. In his book ‘Hooked’, Nir Eyal takes us through how social media tech giants design apps and social media to keep us hooked, and how they make their money.
We also know that our attention and focus are being undermined through social media scrolling. We all enjoy being entertained and TikTok videos and being nosy about what others are up to is a great distraction from other, more difficult, activities. Johann Hari, in his book ‘Stolen Focus’, highlights how our attention and focus have been undermined by some technology use.
But, what are the advantages of using Social Media? We do need to maintain a balanced perspective of these platforms while understanding the lurking ‘dangers’ they may lure us into. Like any other potentially addictive substance or activity, technology and the apps that they support are not in and of themselves bad. It’s what we do with them and how we use them that determines their overall impact on our daily lives.
Some of the advantages of social media are:
- It helps us be connected with others who are geographically disconnected from us
- Conversations and connections can be seamless between offline and online engagement
- Scrolling through our own feed reminds us of the good things in our lives – friends, family, days/nights out, holidays, pets, etc – which has shown to boost our overall mood and self-esteem
- For some, experimenting with different personal styles and outlooks can help to shape an individual identity without too much social retribution
- For some, finding others with similar interests and hobbies can be a great way to build their skills and knowledge – especially when it is quite specialist
- For those who aren’t able to leave their homes, it can become a connection to the outside world
Viewing social media in the same way we engage with anything else that may have potential addictive qualities may be a bit more of a helpful approach to social media use.
For some, social media can become very addictive, for others it’s a great tool to build friendships or a business, for others it’s become a real burden.
If you are struggling with ways to unshackle yourself from social media use. There are a few things you can do:
- Keep social media scrolling to set times each day & set an alarm to alert you to when you need to stop
- Try switching off your phone and leaving it in a draw or bag for an evening and/or one day a week
- You could try putting your wifi on a timer, so it switches off at a specific time each night
- Remove social media apps entirely from your phone
- You could always just completely delete the social media profiles that you find are either too distracting or not being used.
Whatever you decide to do with your social media profiles, do it intentionally. Just accepting whatever the tech giants hand over to you is for their benefit, rather than yours.
‘If you don’t pay for the product, you are the product’.