Social media, and technology in general, is part of all of our lives. This is probably self explanatory, but when I say social media and technology I am referring to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, text messaging, emails, and probably 25 other things that I don’t know about yet because my iPhone 4 can’t handle them and because I am really 85 years old at heart when it comes to technological advances. These things can be useful and fun, but like anything else, social media can turn into a negative thing in a hurry if we don’t set some healthy limits around it.
For a vast majority of the time social media is nothing but fun in my life. I love to look at my friends’ pictures on Instagram, to read encouraging or funny blogs, to get ideas for my house on Pinterest, and to stay connected with people through Facebook. I had some doubts about starting my own blog, but I’m glad I did and I’ve enjoyed it so much. I use social media most every day, and I’m betting most of you do too. However, in my time as a counselor I have been alarmed at the number of clients who have ended up in my office talking about a social media or technology related incident or issue. This goes for kids, teens, and adults alike. Here are a few suggestions that I have for “renewing” the way we use social media.
Set some limits with time. If we let it, technology can take up so much of our time. I have 4 different email accounts, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Blogger and Bloglovin accounts. It is WAY too easy for me to feel like I’m checking these things CONSTANTLY. I know you know what I mean! There is always something new to see or respond to. If we’re not careful, we may find ourselves staring at our phones and missing out on real life with the people around us. I think it’s a good idea to set some time limits around social media use. Things like turning it all off at a certain time each night, not checking the phone during meals, and checking emails only at designated points come to my mind. You know what is right for you in this area.
Take a break. Going back to last week’s topic of comparison, it can be easy to start comparing ourselves and our own lives to the things that we see on our various news feeds and start thinking things like I wish I got to travel like her, I wish my house looked like hers, or I wish I was as skinny as her. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being inspired by other people’s ideas, travels, homes, or clothes. But I do notice that inspiration can quickly turn to something else if we are going through a rough time emotionally or financially. In some seasons it can be a good idea to take a short break from all forms of social media, because if we are feeling rough we certainly don’t need something that is supposed to be fun making us feel rougher.
Edit out the negative. This one’s easy. If something makes you feel bad about yourself or gets on your nerves, click unfollow. Social media is an optional part of life and we don’t have to look at or read things that bring up negative emotions.
Represent yourself well. This is old news, but remember that what you post online never really goes away. It stays forever. The importance of making sure that what we post really represents the kind of person that we want to be goes without saying.
I hope these ideas serve as some easy reminders of how we can keep social media as a positive part of our lives. As for me, I just may reach a technological milestone and upgrade to an iPhone 6 this weekend. Welcome to 2015 Whitney! I’m sure I won’t know how to work it for the following month. And speaking of social media, feel free to follow me on Facebook at Whitney Smith Caves or Whitney Caves Counseling and on Instagram at @whitneycaves.
What’s your favorite form of social media? What are some healthy limits that you’ve set? Are there any other iPhone 4 users left in the world? I’m thinking probably not.