Like many people at one point in my life I got on the wagon and took a break from social media. In fact I went over two years without posting to Facebook. Last year changed that for me. Sitting at home recovering from surgery, then six weeks of radiation treatment and stay at home orders due to COVID gives a person a lot of idling free time.
Since then, I have been investing in having a healthy relationship with social media, mainly Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. No doubt TikTok and Snapchat have their place but I am pretty sure the world does not need to see me, a 52 year old man trying to do the latest dance steps. At the end of the day my goal is to make social media enhance my life not take it over.
I won’t spend a ton of time on the evils of social media but like so many things– gambling, alcohol, drugs and even shopping there is an addictive quality to it. The question is how to dance with the devil but not get roped into to going to Hell.
Research has shown that we can suffer from feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration with our own lives when we see post and pictures from friends that can lead us to perceive that their lives are better than ours. I know, I’ve been sucked down that rabbit hole. Obsessing over getting a new bike or wondering if I need to trade in my car for a newer model, the seed being planted from just scrolling through friends’ post about their latest acquisition.
The list of ills goes on and on. I found a great blog post from Iraylo Durmonski on many of the negatives as well as how to make better use of social media. He hits on many of the same points that I will cover below.
So why the big change and the re-embracing of social media. Blame it on the two big C’s- COVID and cancer.
Just as the world was shutting down for the year in the spring of 2020, I found myself at home recovering from a bilateral neck dissection. The first in several steps to treat a head & neck cancer that I had been diagnosed with at the end of 2019.
So what’s a fellow to do when confined to the couch under doctor’s orders. Facebook & Instagram became a quick an easy way to share what was going on and how my recovery was going. Phone calls and emails from friends and family are awesome but telling the same store and providing the same information over and over is down right exhausting.
This was my first big moment of realizing what a great tool social media can be. Face to face visits weren’t possible but reconnecting with friends on Facebook provided a great boost to my spirits and morale. The trick was and still is knowing when enough is an enough.
I don’t have a magic ratio formula to tell you that you have X amount of minutes per day that you can spend clicking likes and posting pictures from college that you found in an old photo album while cleaning off your bookshelves. I may have spent several days last summer doing this and to be honest it was a blast. Reading friends comments and taking a walk down memory lane was just the boosted I needed to get me through a rough part of my recovery from surgery.
It has now been a year since I took my toe out of the water and took a deep dive into the social media pool. Along the way I’ve developed a list of rules for myself that I feel have allowed me to have a healthy relationship with social media.
- No trolling unless you want people to think you’re a D bag. This is a great way to get unfollowed and lose friends along the way.
- If you are getting your news and facts from social media you may want to rethink that practice.
- Avoid debating politics and religion. Trust me you are not going to change my mind and I don’t believe I’ll change yours. Let’s save our energy for something more productive like debating whether or not Taylor Swift is the greatest song writer of her generation.
- Only positives. This goes along with trolling but basically I follow the law my mom laid down long ago for me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.”
- Get rid of deadweight. Cut loose your “friends” who are trolls, constantly post fake news and demonstrate that they are one or more of the following… racist, homophobic, misogynist, xenophobes or just general D bags. You wouldn’t hang out with them in person why give them your time on social media.
- Use it as intendeded. Look at it this way, you wouldn’t go to your friends home and just randomly flip through their stuff. Why do the same online by aimlessly flipping through others’ posts and pictures. Take the time to be mindful and full of good intentions. Use messenger to reconnect with an old chum from school, write a review about a positive experience you had at a local business or maybe plan a large picnic and invite your friends from online to show up and actually interact in person.