I have been a subscriber to social media ever since 2006 when I went to college and started my first Facebook account. Everything technology-wise seemed to be in it’s early stages back then: I only recently had gotten my first cell phone, I think I rented a computer from my university’s IT office, and Facebook had only recently come on the scene. I have always been a little technology-obsessed, and all this new tech was right up my alley.
The problem is, since then, it’s probably consumed more of my life than I care to admit.
It’s a common problem, and one I want to share my experience with, because life is way too short! We have way too many dreams and ideas that keep sitting on our shelves because we’re caught up in social media. Don’t get me wrong, I still use it, but I’m not willing to devote so much of my time to it anymore and I’m working hard to keep this goal at the forefront.
In the past couple of years in particular, I have used social media/my phone compulsively. I haven’t been able to go long without looking at my phone, and until recently, it’s been to check Facebook or Instagram. Facebook especially had the power to suck me in. I would literally spend hours a day on it. I would try to give myself restrictions, but would find myself on it almost without being consciously aware that I had opened my phone. I tried deleting the FB app, but then I would just look it up on the Safari or Chrome apps. Recently I had to resort to blocking the website using parental controls (even though I am a parent myself). But that’s how seriously hard it was for me to let go of it. I still check Instagram pretty compulsively, and I’m working on that, but I don’t get sucked into it and waste hours like I did with FB.
The problem with apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. is that they literally conduct studies and hire really smart people in order to find out how to hook your brain on their platforms and keep coming back again and again. They want you to be engaged in it and spend more time there, because that’s more opportunities for you to see ads and such and maybe buy things. I’m not condemning this and I don’t blame the developers for setting things up this way, but I think that when we know this about these apps, then we can stay more in control.
Since I’ve been off Facebook, I have seen a significant increase in my productivity, mental health, and interaction with my husband and children. Again, I am not condemning Facebook, but for me, it was time to let go. I had ideas and dreams that I had not only been putting off because I felt I would rather scan social media, I also would see other people seeming to reach all their goals and get jealous and take even less action towards them.
If you feel the same way, and notice that you’re wasting a lot of time on social media and can’t seem to stop, here are a few things you can do to stop the madness:
- Delete the offending social media app off of your phone. If it’s FB and you’re tempted to check it on a web browser app installed on your phone, you can block the website itself. (Click here for instructions on how to do this on Safari, and here for instructions on how to do it on Chrome)
- If you use Google Chrome as your web browser on your computer, there is an extension called Kill News Feed that you can download that will block just the Facebook newsfeed. In other words, you’ll be able to pull up FB, but you won’t get sucked into the newsfeed because you won’t even be able to access it. Click here to download it! This is especially helpful if you use FB for business, but don’t want to get distracted every time you open it.
- If you’re really desperate, you can delete your account. (I haven’t gotten to this point because the above options have worked for me and I still use FB for my business page.)
- If you use social media a lot for business or to redirect people to your website, there are several websites/services that will post to social media for you. Generally they let you have a free version where you can schedule posts for up to 4-6 different social media platforms or pages. I have used and like Postcron, but I know there are many many other services out there (Hootsuite, Falcon, and Postfity are a few examples). Just do a Google search for “scheduling social media posts”.
I hope these tips help you to spend more time off screen and more time being present. I know how weird that sounds since I’m writing this message using a screen and you are reading it using one, but life shouldn’t revolve around this space. There is more to be seen, experienced, felt, and enjoyed.
What will you do this week to cut back on your social media usage?