Managing Social Media

By Jen Scott, LMFT

In a podcast I was recently listening to, the guest compared the invention of social media to the invention of fire. Back in the day when fire was discovered, I’m sure folks were totally amazed but also had to learn how to control and contain it. It seemingly had great benefits but without some boundaries it could easily become all consuming and even destructive. Sound about right? As we enter into the summer and possibly have some extra time on our hands, let’s consider some practical ways to manage our social media usage.

1. Start with WHY.

This seems so basic but I think it’s the place to start. How often in culture do we hop onto the next bandwagon without thinking through what we’re actually doing? It’s that crowd mentality. Today it seems like everyone is on social media and you are “weird” if you aren’t. But why are we all on social media? Are you hoping to reconnect with old friends? Keep up with current friends? Or even more difficult to answer, are you feeling insecure and need the likes to validate yourself? Do you subconsciously want to be proving to others that your life is awesome? Or have we become addicted to the dopamine hit of getting a notification? These may be some questions you’d like to process through or journal on your own, and/or discuss with a trusted friend that can provide you with honest feedback. My challenge to you is to dig deep and ask yourself the hard questions of why am I engaging in social media, for what purpose

2. Guard your heart.

How does your heart feel when you are on social media? Does that person’s posts leave you feeling jealous? Insecure? Are you comparing yourself to them? Unfollow. One of the best things about social media is that you get to decide what you see. Every now and then check out your friends/following list and take an honest inventory. Do these people’s posts leave you feeling encouraged or inspired? Or are you left feeling less than or judged. Also, if you’re in a tough season and struggling, why not mute some folks stories or posts temporarily? Reminder: no one is forcing you to look at all of these posts.

My other big piece of advice is don’t follow everyone and everything. We don’t have time for that and like the fire analogy, social media can easily own you as opposed to you owning it. For example, I’m amazed by Lebron James and his basketball skills but do I need to follow him everyday? No. If I want to check in and see what he’s been up to, I can search him and look him up as he comes to mind. Same thing with shopping. If I followed Target I would feel encouraged to go shopping there daily and spend all my money. However, on the reverse, if I look up Target when I do have the cash to spend and want to see the deals, styles, etc. then great! Minor tweaks where you are pursuing information as you want/need as opposed to the information forcefully coming to you.

3. Protect your time.

Smart phones are making this easier nowadays with timers and screen time updates. Try them out! In busier times of life why not delete social media apps off of your phone and only check when you are sitting down at your computer or on your laptop. I promise, there is always good people watching to be had and you don’t need social media readily available to entertain you. Also, this is another area where you can check in with trusted friends and ask the brave questions of “Am I one of those people who is always on their phones?” Or “Do I ever make you feel like you’re less important when I have my phone out?” You might be surprised by their answers. Lastly, never hurts to try out a social media fast and see what all you notice when you take a step away.

As summer heats up, let’s be more mindful of our social media usage and make an effort to be most engaged in doing life with those we love!