My opinion and use of social media are always changing. Sometimes I feel like social media is a horrible thing and addictive as a drug, and at other times I am amazed at the wonderful ways that it allows us to connect with others and stay involved in their lives. Sometimes I will quit social media for months, and other times I will try to use it to connect with others and share things from my life on it.
There are two extremes with social media. One is that it is terrible and evil, and you should stay as far away as possible. The other is that it is just as good as in-person interaction and we should spend as much time as possible on it. I think all of us know that neither extreme is correct and that there is a middle ground. Social media is never going to replace person-to-person interactions, but I believe we can use it to better connect with others. I want to share with you a few ways that I am attempting to use social media productively without wasting hours of merely scrolling.
One – Set limits
The biggest problem with social media is that it is addictive. The programmers and designers of the different social media platforms have spent years trying to get you to spend a few more minutes on Facebook or Instagram. They are trying to make more money with their products, which is understandable, but the result of that is that many people are spending way too much time than necessary on social media. Anyone on social media has had the experience of sitting down to check Twitter or Facebook for a few minutes and ended up spending an hour or two on there.
Let’s set time limits on our use of social media. There are several ways to do this. If you have an apple product, you can use the built-in timer for each of the apps. However, I prefer to set a timer on my phone. I usually set a timer for 5-10. It is plenty of time to see new posts and make a few comments. If you do this once or twice a day, you will be able to connect with others but not waste much time at all. You could check social media in the morning and then at night and stay up to date with others without wasting a lot of time. I think that a purposeful time on social media can be an excellent thing. The problem is when we are on for a couple of hours a day and have no idea why.
Two – Connect with others
I do think that we can connect with others on social media. It is never going to be as good or as meaningful as in person, but it is still valid. It allows you to hear about events in people’s lives that you otherwise would not have known. I believe that we can use this information for good.
Maybe you see that one of your friend’s loved one died. You can comment or send them a message expressing your sorrow. Perhaps you see that someone is moving. You can offer to give them a hand. Maybe you see someone just had a baby; you can offer to provide them with some of the clothes that your baby has outgrown.
If we use social media as an opportunity to connect with others, we will get much more out of it. Sadly we often consider social media a show of other’s lives that we can either approve of (be giving them a like or share) or disapprove of (by not giving them a like or arguing with them). However, if we use it correctly, we can use social media to connect with far more people than we would have before.
Three – Act like a person
Some people seem to think that social media was created to argue with others, share their political views, and share memes. The weird thing is that if a person did that outside of Facebook or Twitter, then they would not have any friends, but somehow, it is acceptable on social media. If you met a person who only talked about the news and their political views, you would probably hate them. If you met a person that disagreed with everything you said and wanted to fight, you probably would get away from them as soon as possible. If you met a person that only talked about corny jokes and nothing else, you would probably think that he was crazy. If you met a girl that posed in front of people all the time, you would wonder what she was doing. But somehow we accept these people on social media and are many times like them.
However, let’s attempt to be like a normal person on social media. We should ask questions. We should talk about the things we care about. We should share what is happening in our lives, and of course, we should tell our bad jokes/memes. Every person is going to be different, but if we act more like people and less like trolls or a meme machine, then we will be able to use social media to build connections and not just for entertainment or a digital fighting ring.
I don’t think I have done the best job applying these things in my life, but they are something that I am striving to improve at. Let me know what you think about what I have said or what you are doing to enhance your use of social media.