I’m of the age that I can remember a time when social media didn’t reign supreme. I still remember the ancient dial-up chords of the Prodigy and AOL era internet, the rush of excitement when you finally made it “online” (because that thing was slooooow) and the hope that someone wouldn’t pick up the landline, kick you off, and ruin it all.
One of my most vivid and impactful memories of the dawning of the internet is when my high school English teacher had to explicitly tell us that Wikipedia was not a reliable source. WHAT?! There is stuff on the internet that isn’t true?! There are people who aren’t who they say they are?! Well geez. This takes the fun out of things.
I remember MySpace, I remember Friendster. And then, the summer before my first year of college, I signed up to get an invite to an exclusive website connecting me to all my future classmates. It was called The Facebook.
The internet – and social media – have evolved a LOT since the 90s and early 2000s and the olden days when Facebook had a THE before it and only allowed you to update your status in ways that completed the sentence “So-And-So is…” And with that evolution, we’ve had to reinvent what it means to be MINDFUL, over and over again.
Maybe you’re alreay mindful IRL. You’re present in your conversations, you live for the now, and you’re all about savoring the moment. Some might have trouble tuning into life when today’s technology provides such a fun distraction – but for you, the fun is right in front of you in real time.
But here’s the hard reality: social media, smartphones, and being in-somewhat-constant-contact are not the exception anymore, they’re the norm. Whereas outlets like Instagram and Twitter were once fun escapes, they’ve become a vital component of connection in the world we live. And while we’re not necessarily living for another moment because of social media…the moments we are living for are the same ones we’re expected to stop, drop, and document to keep our “brand” alive, both online and off.
Whether you’re looking to grow your business or are the average social media user catching up on cute baby/puppy pics and posting funny memes, the social media overwhelm factor is loud and proud and REAL. So many people to keep up with, so much news being thrown at us…it’s almost too much to handle if you’re the type of person who likes to savor the moment. It’s not just that social media is a distraction – it’s that it makes us question how true our truths really are.
Just like a baby slowly learns that crying isn’t just a mode of calling for help but a surefire way to steal mom’s focus, social media can suck you in and make you feel as if every update, every post, every link and every Boost is a make-or-break scenario. While I’m all about the power of a double-tap, it’s vital we learn to stay SANE on our smartphones.
Here are a few solid social media tips + strategies to follow (ha, no pun intended) so you can have your life and post it, too:
-Question news sources. Many times we’ll see a headline, gasp, and share so someone else can share in our rage/elation. But how often do you look at the URL where it came from? Is this source credible? Is it from a viable news outlet, like the New York Times or CNN, or is it from a site called something like icantbelieveitsnotbetter.com ?? It’s called “click bait” for a reason: its main point is to lure you in so you will click and BITE.
Since we can usually see the source in the link preview, look into THAT first – then decide whether you’ll click the bait. If it’s real news, there’s a good chance it’s being reported on a more credible news site where you can find real reporting – if it’s not, then it’s not worth reading anyway (no matter HOW much it’s playing to your emotions).
-Practice COMO – the Celebration of Missing Out. Feeling envy bubble up when you see someone else doing something you with YOU could do or have, too? True jealousy, by definition, is a reaction to the threat of LOSING something you have. Envy, however, arises when you find yourself LACKING something someone else has. (*If you’re unsure which is which, here’s a primer on distinguishing the two.)
If you find yourself being envious of someone else on social media, ask yourself what about that thing resonates the most. What is it you want? And then CELEBRATE it for the other person. When you choose to celebrate what you want, even when someone ELSE has it, the universe takes a little mental note that you know that opportunity isn’t a limited resource. If you see scarcity, you get scarcity. Only those who recognize that there’s space out there for them can actually FILL it. Plus, in the words of Call Your Girlfriend hosts Ann and Aminatou’s Shine Theory, I don’t shine if you don’t shine.
-Engage wisely. It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason: it’s supposed to encourage us to be SOCIAL. Would you socialize with someone that made you feel icky? Differing opinions is different than downright bad vibes. Choose wisely with what and who you engage with, and make sure it does more good than harm. If it’s not the kind of social interaction you’d want to have offline, then why are you having it online?
-Be Proactive, not Reactive. Posting reactively is the adult equivalent of the temper tantrum. We see or experience something and get so overworked and overwhelmed that we share something, ANYTHING, to let others know how we feel.
Before you lose your cool on the web, ask yourself if what you’re posting is the Communicative Quad-fecta: Kind, True, Helpful, and Necessary. If it’s not, then maybe give yourself a time-out (counting to 20 taking slow breaths helps) to refocus and regroup.
-Know what you want to say – like, REALLY want to say. When you post a photo or update, what’s the overarching message you want to share with your followers? Do you want to share a snapshot of something you love – or are you trying to keep up with the social media mavens you see online? Do you want Likes and comments, or do you want to impart an actual, meaningful message? Quality over quantity, especially when it comes to social media.
A great picture or quote should support a main message or tell others about who you ARE, not steal the show and tell others what they AREN’T. Set a clear intention before you post, and be honest with yourself about WHY you are posting what you’re posting. And guess what? You DON’T have to keep up with the social media joneses and flood the feed. Authenticity in intention always trumps abundance in action.
-Set it and forget it. After you’ve posted, let it be! It’s tempting to check your activity log every half-minute, refreshing the page to see if someone else has “Liked,” commented, or retweeted what you’ve shared. Not only is this a time-suck, it’s a strain on your emotions. If you don’t get a surge of attention within minutes, it can seem as if what you had to say or show was not a success, leading you to doubt your credibility, obsess over what you did right or wrong, and agonize over how you can tweak your strategy moving forward. All in all…it becomes an abusive relationship that makes you feel like crap.
To keep yourself in a proactive space, it’s vital to set boundaries with your social media. Make a pact with yourself to only check your various social media outlets for activity at specific, limited times throughout the day. Respond, comment, and strategize during these times and these times only, during quiet moments when your attention is not needed elsewhere. Take your pic, share your post, then go make your mark on the world – no filter necessary.
Do you have any social media tips and tricks to help you stay sane WITHOUT disconnecting completely? Post in the comments and let us know!
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