When the likes of Face Party and MySpace were created the rush of my generation onto the online space was immediate. It was like everyone had a hard time expressing themselves before they could go online, share pictures, their favourite music and express their personalities in the form of sparkly animated fonts and vague quotes.
Since then Social Media has evolved into an entirely different beast. If we take Facebook as an example, the platform actively rivals every other form of content distribution and media creation. In one little hub. Just over one year (I know it feels like so much longer!) since our world changed forever due to Covid-19 we would be hard pushed now to find anyone who hasn’t yet embraced a digital persona in some format. I mean it has now become a necessity and not just a nicety.
The problem with the whole world being online is the WHOLE WORLD is online. You started off being able to send gifs and memes to your girl chat group and it was an amazing technology. Now you are like Bruce Almighty with everyones voice in your head telling you their thoughts, feelings, and grievances in the most unsolicited way possible. It is noisy and it can negatively effect your perception of the world and your ability to see the people, causes and media that is important to you.
Algorithms are put in place to support you with this very thing. The idea is that the math can calculate what you are into and who you want to interact with and it will provide you with a semi accurate world build entirely for you. We haven’t hit minority report personalisation yet but if you have ever mentioned a new eye cream to a co worker and then seen a ad pop up on your profile moments later it may feel like it.
Beyond what the platforms can do for us however it does become our own responsibilty to be consuming what we want in a conscious format. You can’t blame Facebook for being triggered by your aunt sheila if you never removed, took a break from or unfriended her – especially if you engage with her often and write on her profile wall on her birthday! The socials do not read your mind or your emotional state (yet, I know nothing!) so you have to “clean house”.
Here are my top tips on how to consciously build your social media world in a way that it positively impacts your lifestyle rather than hinders your wellbeing.
Step One: Think of your Facebook as a dinner party. Take a look at your friend’s list (guest list) and decide if you would REALLY invite those people to an in-person event. If you have a business and connect with others as a networking tool then consider the dinner party a working event and apply the same measure. Who would be on the list and who’s name isn’t on the list and isn’t getting in.
Step Two: Where are you hanging out? Did you join every group you were invited to at one stage? Did you feel obligated to keep in touch with old school friends? Did you feel rude if you didn’t join in on your aunt Sheilas new wax melt selling group? It is time to give yourself a clear out of the spaces you are in out of obligation and decided where you hang out online in terms of what brings you joy, connection, entertainment or learning value.
Step Three: Not my circus, not my monkeys! It takes time to wield an inner power of conscious will when you are emotionally triggered. I have been on the end of a furious, often self-righteous Facebook rant in response to someone. The motivation always looks like *offering a differing perspective or *voicing an opinion in a bid to educate. What it really is, is your emotional system in overdrive filling your body with response hormones whilst you try to change the mind of a complete stranger that doesn’t have the capacity or comprehension to take on what you are trying to serve. At best it ends with you feeling unsatisfied, hyped up, and unaware of where you lost the last hour. At worst it turns into a hateful argument with an internet troll named Dave who hasn’t held an intelligent debate in his existence and proceeds to spam you with hurtful Gifs to re-engage you back into this digital nightmare. Learn to scroll past things that could get you caught up. Perhaps make an impassioned blog about the subject or journal about the feelings
Step Four: Manage your scroll time. It has been difficult to do this over the last year + and I understand that. In fact it is likely that you have picked up more damaging rituals when it comes to social media within this time than ever before. It’s time to regulate your scroll time. You do need time when you are not looking at a screen – why not go for a walk and listen to a podcast, album, or audiobook. Or take yourself off for a swim. Give yourself times at the day that it’s okay to go for a scroll for pure enjoyment, give it a time limit and stick to them like you do dinner breaks, gym sessions, or time with your mother-in-law.
Step Five: Be judgemental without being judgemental. “Its a free world man”, I say to myself as I type that sentence. Remember that everyone has the right to use their account as they wish within social medias guidelines but you choose what you consume! Run it through your own filter so if it isn’t something you want to see – it goes. That applies to crappy friends, your slightly racist aunt margerie and the creepy pizza guys half off just for you offers!
BONUS TIP : Turn the social fun down for over an hour before bed – screen time before bed time can really hinder your quality of sleep and interrupt your natural REM pattern!
We were given a gift that we were never taught to use, but if you consider the comparison from the digital space to the real-life spaces you will find it easier to dismiss the noise that isn’t serving you positively. It means when you choose to spend time there, you can do so and feel emotionally at peace too. You wouldn’t think twice about your healthy intake of the news for instance – now it is time to apply it to the rest.
Take care of you!