Social Media Done Differently

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Have you ever been to a concert where the person in front of you was snapchatting the whole time? Or have you been hanging out with friends and paused in the middle of a sentence to take a selfie? Almost no part of our lives is untouched by social media. Don't get me wrong, I think social media is great (it's probably how you found this blog). It connects me with friends that I love and people that inspire me, but I've also let it rob me of fully being present in the moment. This year, I've been trying to change how I think about social media. Here's some tips that are changing my perspective.

first things first

When I wake up in the mornings, my first instinct is usually to reach for my phone. I turn off my alarm and then look at Instagram, then text messages, then Twitter, then more Instagram. It's easy for me to start looking at other people's days before getting up to experience the day for myself. I know people that use an old-school alarm clock or put their phone on the other side of their room to avoid the temptation of their phone first thing in the morning. Whether it's drinking coffee, working out, or reading your Bible, start your day off with what's most important to you. 

This is also true when it comes to ending your day. I try not to not be on my phone once I'm in bed. Reading and journaling are two ways that I like to spend my time right before I go to sleep. They calm me down and let me reflect on my day, instead of getting on social media and looking at how other people spent their days.

set boundaries

Typically, I've been handling social media in two different ways: I'm either on it all the time, or I force myself to take a break completely. More and more, I'm realizing that healthy social media usage doesn't lie in extremes; it lies in boundaries. Try starting with small steps, like not being on your phone when you're walking across campus or when you're in a conversation with someone. I use an app called Moment, which tracks how many times I pick up my phone and how much time I spend on certain apps. Social media boundaries look different for everyone, but a good place to start is thinking about how much time you spend scrolling through social media without a purpose.

let life happen outside the screen 

There have been so many times where I've missed out on fully experiencing a moment because I've been caught up in my phone. I've tried to put moments on pause in order to take the perfect picture or tweet something funny my friend just said. There's nothing wrong with wanting to capture your life. The problem comes when we start experiencing life through our phones instead of through our eyes.

There are parts of our lives that aren't meant for social media. Something is so sweet about having a moment that the rest of the world doesn't get to experience. Do something that's completely for you and the people right there with you. Put your phone down, take deep breaths, and fully embrace the beauty of being present.

unfollow what causes you to compare

Friends, the "unfollow" button is a wonderful thing. Every few months, I try to look through the list of people I'm following and see if there's anyone I need to unfollow. Here's some questions I ask when I'm thinking about unfollowing someone:

  • Am I following this person out of obligation?
  • Do I think negative thoughts about this person when I see their posts?
  • Do this person's posts cause me to compare myself to them or think negatively about myself?
  • Is this person a celebrity or brand that makes me want to buy things that i don't need?

Unfollowing people and accounts that don't bring me joy have made the time I spend on social media less stressful. Don't feel guilty about unfollowing someone. Who you follow can affect how you think about yourself. It's something you shouldn't take lightly.

live your life instead of watching someone else's

I've lost count of how many times I've meant to just spend 5 minutes checking social media, and then an hour later I'm scrolling 60 weeks back on the Instagram of someone I've never met. I look at people's posts and get jealous of how cool their life looks. Meanwhile, I'm too busy staring at my phone to get out and live life for myself. Social media is great, but it's no substitute for living your life well. If there's something you're passionate about, go after it instead of sitting back and watching someone else doing what you love.

As I've started to change my views on social media, I've found a new freedom in my daily life. I didn't realize how much I use social media as a crutch until I made a conscious decision to monitor how much I use my phone. Ultimately, it comes down to perspective. People are worth being present for. Focus on living a good life and posting about it every once in a while. Changing my views of social media has led me to better conversations and better motivation. It hasn't been easy, but it's been a change worth making.

Here's to living fully in the moment.
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