If you haven’t wondered if social media is causing more grief than good, then you’re one of the few people who get 100% satisfaction from their online lives. But what about the rest of us who have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and so on? We love seeing what our “friends” are up to, but at times, we are left feeling sad, angry, depressed, and even more disconnected than we used to be. We can’t help but ask ourselves, “Is social media bad for us?” Well, it can be if you let it take over your life, but you can make it work for you with some boundaries.
Is Social Media Bad? It Doesn’t Have to Be with These Parameters
1. Limit How Much Time You Spend on Social Media
Is social media bad for us? Like food, TV, and everything else in life, too much of anything is usually not healthy. By limiting your time on social media, you save your energy for real life connections. Evidence shows that we humans only have energy for about 150 friends—how many do we want to be in the real world, versus on our news feeds? If you’re one of those people spending an average of two hours a day on social media and messaging, as evidenced by GlobalWebIndex, you may want to slice that down to about 30 minutes a day to leave time for true human contact—and less time for comparing your life to others. Posting less is also helpful because it means less time worrying about how many likes you got on your latest status or selfie. Take control back by going out and living your life offscreen and being fully present for your friends and family.
2. Limit Who You Use Social Media to Keep Up With
Instead of using social media to keep up with every single person you meet in life, use it to stay in contact with people who you care about but who live far away. According to research by R.I.M. Dunbar, the time you invest in a relationship determines the strength of the relationship, so don’t let Instagram or Facebook replace the real connections you can be building on a daily basis. Use your time to call a family member, go to lunch with a friend, or make a new acquaintance. If social media is making you feel lonely, it means you’re looking at it way too much. Just remember the power is in your hands. If you’re feeling lonely, stop logging on and use that time to register for a MeetUp or join some kind of hobby group to start making real, offline connections. The internet is still a great resource, if used wisely.
3. Think Before You Post or Comment.
Before you post something or comment on someone else’s post, think to yourself if what you’re about to say is really worth your reputation or destroying a relationship over. The most common reason people unfriend each other is due to a disagreement. So, if you’re going to engage in a political or controversial topic, make sure you completely understand the post you’re replying to, do your research beforehand, and take a moment to think about how your comment may be perceived. If you’re not sure, then it’s probably best not to post at all. Remember, you can’t control everything on social media, but you can control what YOU say or put out to the masses. Best practice on all social media is to share only what you would at a business lunch.
So if you’re still wondering if social media is bad even after reading this blog, it’s probably just best to just stay away.