• Ellie Chadwick

Managing a Healthy Relationship with Social Media

Picture this, you and your friends have decided that you'll go hiking this weekend. You wake early, drive for a few hours, climb to the top and you're looking down on the rest of the world feeling accomplished and you think, 'I better take a photo for Instagram'.

Then your second thought is, 'wow did I just think that? How about I just enjoy it?' but by that stage you've already reached for your phone.

This makes me think, are our smartphones and our expectation to post on social media hindering our authentic experiences?

I'm caught between two minds because I want to enjoy my walk but I also want to document my journey and share my experience with others.

I see other people on my walk talking to each other or simply looking around which I do but I'll also have my camera and phone out capturing what's around me.

It makes me question weather I'm truly taking in the experience.

For me, I enjoy framing videos and capturing great photos so on my expeditions I'm thinking in a creative mind.

Am I missing out on "getting back to nature"? or am I making the most of my time by creating shareable and engaging content for social media.

These are the questions I ask myself.

After spending the majority of my weekend on my laptop my mum made a comment that when she was my age she and her friends would be away for the weekend camping and having fun outdoors.

Where as I was editing photos and videos, posting on social media and creating content plans.

We spend so much time on our devices, that's not a new fact. For me a lot of it is productive. Although you can have an unhealthy relationship with social media if you're just consuming and not engaging.

We're in the information age where we are bombarded with statistics, images, videos and ideas. Every time you pick up your device you're taking in information. Have a think about how much of that is relevant.

It was leaked that Facebook is taking information from you to predict your mood and is selling that information to companies. So when you're feeling down they'll advertise to you and target those most vulnerable to get a sale.

It can also change your mood, Facebook will post negative videos and news stories or positive ones to affect the way you're feeling.

Scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed is a guilty pleasure for all of us. If you stop for a second and think of something more productive you could be doing you'll find yourself spending less time in other people's lives.

Not only that but if you're like me and you use social media at work, the lines are blurred between your professional and private life. I think that will be another post, stay tuned.

If I catch myself scrolling longer than a few minutes I make an effort to do something productive. I search for free events near me or message a friend I've lost contact with so that social media becomes social again.

Managing a healthy relationship with social media is all about balance. Here are some of the things I do to maintain a healthy relationship with social media.

1. Ditch the habit of scrolling through your phone before going to sleep, instead move your charger away from your bedside table and plug it in overnight at your desk or the opposite side of the room. Don't forget to set your alarm at the same time.

Then pick up a book a read for a while or colour in a mandala to help your brain relax and get ready for sleep.

2. Listen to a podcast on your commute home and write notes that interest you instead of scrolling through feeds.

3. For those weak-willed I recommend downloading a Chrome extension to alter your Facebook newsfeed to stop endless, wasteless scrolling.

4. Remove apps from your phone that you no longer use. Re-organise your pages so that the most important apps are first and the most distracting last.

5. Remember that everyone is posting their perceived best selves. Photos from Venice, updates from a festival on the weekend, cute couple selfies, these are just the highlights. Everybody's lives are filled with up's and down's, you dont have to be a witness to it if you don't want to, which takes me to my next point;

6. Although it's nostalgic to be friends with your high school buddies reflect upon their positive influence on you social media life. Unfollow or unfriend anyone that brings up feelings of anger, guilt or jealousy, there's no need to spend time with those feelings.

7. Be yourself, don't try for the perfect shot just post photos that reflect you.

For more on this conundrum of digital life balance listen to Abha Dawesar - Life in the "digital now".


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