Social Media is the Cigarette of the 21st Century

How many hours a week do you spend on Instagram (or social media in general)? Do you find yourself continually distracted from the task at hand because you’re more interested in Sally’s cute food photo or Bill’s engagement than you are with whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing?

Girl, same.

I don’t have to tell you that this is unhealthy. You know that already. But if it’s so unhealthy, why do we keep doing it?

This is the first post in a two-part series about using social media with intention. First, I want to discuss our input — what we are allowing ourselves to be passively influenced by on the ‘gram, Facebook, Twitter, etc…

You can quote me on this: social media is the cigarette of the 21st century (mic drop?).

Social media makes us feel good — dopamine is literally released in our brains when someone likes our post and I think we are equally as enthralled with gazing upon aesthetically pleasing photos or entertaining videos. But at the end of the day, social media is not good for us…if we use it without intentionality.

So how can we intentionally use social media for good?

I think that in order to do so, we need to get back to the original reason for social media in the first place and that’s community.

Social media is just that — social. So what would happen if you started to think of social media as a social outing? Instead of mindlessly scrolling, you set a timer for yourself and actually engage with people online. Comment on posts, respond to DMs and stories and actually be social on social media (groundbreaking, I know).

Then, once your timer goes off, get off of your phone. If you’ve just hung out with your friend and are in your car back home, you don’t feel the need to continually text them on repeat and in the same way, once you’ve interacted and been social on your social media for the day, you should be done. For the day.

Now, setting boundaries around social media is no new concept, but I do think that actively scrolling and engaging as opposed to passively scrolling will help you to have a healthier relationship with social media.

I also think that it’s important to follow and engage with people who are actively benefitting your life.

If someone on social media is making you feel lesser than, I want you to ask yourself why and then if you don’t need to follow them then don’t follow them. You need to set strict boundaries, girlfriend.

So here comes the fun part: I want you to go through the list of people you follow and unfollow anyone who doesn’t serve you.

Then I want you to write in your calendar when you will allow yourself to be social (30 minutes in the morning or maybe 15 minutes during lunch) and then keep those plans with your social media as if they were plans with your best friend Amelia.

I believe that when we become more satisfied in our virtual social networking then we are more content to set boundaries. For example, a clingy girlfriend is often clingy because she feels unsatisfied in her relationship whereas a girlfriend who has a life of her own and doesn’t need to be chatting with her boyfriend at all hours of the day is likely much more satisfied in her relationship.

Don’t be a clingy girlfriend to social media. He’s not worth your time.

Now I’m not naive, and I understand from personal experience that this is all easier said than done. But we can’t let our virtual (and very much not real) experiences take away from our real personal experiences. So if you are at work, be there. If you are at the zoo, be there. On a vacation? Be there.

Stop worrying about what Sally thinks of your new dress, and stop distracting yourself by watching someone else’s highlight reel while you could be out there crafting a full-on motion picture.

So, this week I want to encourage you to engage actively (as opposed to passive scrolling) for a set amount of time each day and then put your phone down and go take a walk or grab coffee with a girlfriend, write a song, clean your house, etc…

I want to bring you back into the real world, my friend. Real-life is sooooo much better than whatever filtered photo someone is sharing anyway.

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