As a quintessential Generation Z baby, my relationship with social media has spanned over half of my lifetime, beginning with a jump onto the Facebook bandwagon at a meagre age of nine. A few years later, alongside my friends, I got my first smartphone and with that came Snapchat, Twitter, and my dear friend Instagram: a common 21st century fairy-tale of love and brainwashing.
Whilst I have never considered myself a social media fanatic – I have never had Vine or Tumblr, and my stint on Twitter didn’t last more than a year or two – it would be an overt lie to say that it has not still played a leading role in the story of my life. Social media has acted as an inanimate third parent to me: it made me friends, politically educated me in a way my teachers couldn’t, and led me to momentarily believe that one could singularly define the words ‘cool’ and ‘pretty’. It ingrained in me a blueprint of how to view people and, in turn, how to view myself.
Whether or not we admit it to each other, all of us have experienced times when social media has become overwhelming. Study after study has proven that there are links between social media usage and anxiety, and we shouldn’t be embarrassed if we need to take a step back. Moderation is the key to ensuring it remains a positive force in our lives, so… her are three steps to making detaching a little bit easier:
- Only Follow Actual Friends: Unfollow the people you aren’t actually friends with, whether that’s Kim Kardashian or a girl you went to primary school with but will never speak to again. Obsessing over someone else’s social media account is never a healthy thing to do and is a tragic waste of time. If you don’t truly care about them and they don’t truly care about you – unfollow!
- Avoid Your Phone: A lot of the time we spend on social media is an accident; we might pick up our phones to respond to a text and then find ourselves accidentally spending hours scrolling through Facebook. So, detach in as many ways as possible: use a physical camera instead of the one on your phone; pick up a newspaper instead of reading the BBC app; buy a vinyl player so you don’t need your phone to play music.
- Social Media “Time-Outs”: Finally, give yourself ‘time-outs’ – whether that’s for a day, a month, or forever – and delete the social media apps from your phone altogether. Even a few hours every now and then where you disconnect can make a huge impact on your mental health. If you find that your self-control fails you, get a pal to change your passwords so you can’t get back in without their permission.
[Image credit: LoboStudioHamburg/pixabay.com]