- Julianna Sweeney
Using Social Media With Intention
NEWS FLASH: Social Media is *designed* to keep you plugged in. Mindless scrolling, comparing yourself to others, and literally wasting hours of your life away is something that has plagued us all.
It's incredibly difficult (though not impossible) to live in today's hyper-connective world without being an active member of some sort of social media - Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest, Snapchat, you name it. Even if you're not posting regularly, you're most likely using it as a source to keep tabs on people, keep up with the latest trends or even, in many cases today, get your news.
About 2 years ago, I turned on alerts for screen time usage on my phone. I always thought of myself as pretty responsible and felt I had good sense of self control... until I saw the cold, hard numbers. I was averaging about 2.5-3 hours PER DAY on social media. That equates to 17.5-21 HOURS per week of my life WASTED - scary stuff. Not only was I wasting time, I was also feeling sluggish and increasingly insecure. I knew that something had to change but I didn't know what to do...
I experimented with a bunch of different things:
I tried to follow more accounts that would motivate me
I tried deleting the apps from my phone so if I wanted to go on, I'd have to log in through Safari - this helped, but again was not sustainable when it came to using the app to post
I even tried completely cutting myself off - taking a break was great and I definitely recommend it, but it was not sustainable for me in the long term
These methods only proved to help for a very short period of time. Why? That's precisely the question...and the answer.
The reason they weren't working was because I was not addressing the root of the issue, the why. Why was it important that I stopped using social media so much? Why was it so hard to turn my attention away. Why could I not just cut it out completely.
As with any problem, you must understand the cause in order to effectively implement a solution.
Why was it important that I stopped using social media so much?
I was wasting my life away. Sure I'd find something interesting or helpful here and there, but the amount of sheer nonsense that I was consuming FAR outweighed the productive.
I was feeling terribly sluggish. My energy levels were atrocious and finding the motivation to do anything after scrolling was almost impossible - it was so much easier to just stay plugged in and scroll some more - which wasted even more time.
My attention span was deteriorating and along with it, my ability to focus on school/work/faith/relationships, you name it!
I was subconsciously becoming so much more insecure because I was constantly seeing and comparing myself to others on Instagram. SOCIAL MEDIA ISN'T REAL - You are amazing so stop comparing yourself to others and go work on refining your badassery instead.
Why was it so hard to turn my attention away?
As I mentioned earlier, these social media platforms are literally *designed* to keep you plugged in and addicted. They make money off of you using their platforms. They have scientists working on their teams dedicated to figuring out how to maintain your interest. It's pretty crazy. An insanely large amount of executives at these social media companies do not even allow their children to be on the apps because they are designed this way. (check out "The Social Dilemma" for a really fascinating perspective)
Why could I not just cut it out completely?
At the time I was a social media manager for two different small businesses and a digital marketing intern. Not to mention I was promoting my music and other business endeavors. It was not sustainable in these industries to completely disregard social media. I also love to create content for family, friends and beyond. Socials provide a quick and fun way to get that content out easily and with a big impact.
With answers to these fundamental questions, I was able to devise a sustainable plan to maximize the value that I get from social media while minimizing the time I spend on each platform.
How To Use Social Media Intentionally:
Remove yourself from platforms that don't align with your values
Unfollow all accounts that do not add value to your life
Mute all accounts that you do not want to unfollow, but that do not add immediate value to your life
Follow accounts that teach you something
Follow accounts that improve your mindset and push you to be better
Follow accounts that represent your goals - where you want to be/what you want to do in the future
Intentionally set aside chunks of time for curating/posting and chunks of time for scrolling
I've officially brought my social media usage from 2.5-3 hours per day down to about 20-30 minutes per day (yes, for real) just by using the seven steps above. Does that mean I don't slip sometimes and end up scrolling more than I'd like to admit? Absolutely not! We are in a constant process of improving. I've come to find, however, that consistency comes more easily when I've created an environment and/or a system to fall back on in the times where human nature gets the better of me.
It's not an easy thing to break a bad habit - especially when it comes to one that is scientifically designed to keep you tethered down - but it is one of the most liberating things you can possibly do for yourself. You have what it takes, now the only question is are you gonna commit to it?
Let me know what you think and be sure to join the conversation over on Instagram!
Sending love always,