How much is too much social media?
A really good question… and honestly, there is no simple answer. Sorry! (Bet you weren’t expecting that, huh? *Cheeky emoji here). There’s so much talk when it comes to “social media cleansing,” which I think is a bit much.
Here’s a different question: how do you feel when you’re scrolling through feeds on Instagram or when seeing articles and comment threads on Facebook? I’m going to take a wild guess and assume it all depends on your headspace. Sometimes the content you see is inspiring, empowering, and uplifting.
But at other times, it may feel all-consuming, degrading, or down-right devastating. But why? Other than daily news, nothing about the content you're exposed to changes that much from day to day. What has changed is your state of mind and your emotions. You need to know your own limits with social media and appreciate those changing feelings when interacting on social.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE HOURS YOU SPEND – IT’S ABOUT THE WAY IT FEELS.
If you don’t feel good about the content you’re seeing, I can guarantee that you’re not going to feel good about the amount of time you’re spending sending Snaps, liking Instagram posts, or reading Tweets.
But what are these “feelings" that come on when you’re spending too much time on social media? That I do have the answer for. Let’s review…
Noun. A sudden unreflective urge or desire to act.
You know when you can’t fight the urge to open your Instagram app? It’s like a nervous tick. Well, actually it’s a dopamine kick. Dopamine drives impulsive behaviours, and unwanted, impulsive actions never feel good. So, when you feel your hands “uncontrollably” reaching for your phone and tapping the Instagram icon, don’t ignore where that feeling is coming from.
Well, that says it all, doesn’t it? This feeling comes around when you refresh your feed over and over or when you’re scrolling for content that you’ll probably never find. You’re on an aimless hunt through a bottomless pit of content, and as a result, your brain is releasing dopamine – but, like a drug, that’s not “enough” so you keep scrolling. When this happens, the only way out of this hole is by learning to be mindful of that feeling and adjust your behaviour.
With these things in mind, I hope you’ll spend your time on social media a bit differently. Even if you decide to be more aware, it’ll take time to familiarize yourself with mindfulness and fight the urge #FightTheFeels. Here are 4 tricks I use when I can’t control my impulsiveness and aimlessness on social:
Turn all social media notifications off. (I actually keep them off all the time.) I know I’m going to check my Instagram notifications eventually, so I prefer not to be tempted by the 100+ notifications for every post or DM.
Move all social media apps off of your main page. I recently did this and it made a huge difference! I’ll catch myself going to tap where Instagram icon used to be and in that moment I can identify the impulse happening, and then can prevent myself from continuing to open the app. Let me tell you, it is such an empowering feeling when you know you ARE in control of your urges.
Delete social apps entirely. I’ve only ever done this once. For the line of work I’m in, it’s not realistic; however, if you do acknowledge the urge but don’t actually fight it, this might be what you need in order to break the reflex.
All this to say, learn to be mindful and aware of certain habits and behaviours, and I think you’ll feel better about the amount of time you’re spending on social media. Be honest with yourself about the way you feel, and you can start to make big changes.
Lastly, my best advice is to view social channels as a means of connection. Through your follows, likes, and comments, it’s ultimately up to YOU to choose what appears on your feed organically. So when you acknowledge those urges and adjust the content with which you interact, you will be able to see habits breaking and a healthier relationship with social media manifesting.
Daphne Barron, @loveyourselfxx