I don’t mean to sound like I’m anti-social media. I’m not.
But if you’re like me, and if you have all your accounts wired into your phone, you know how much of your time and attention it can consume.
I read a study of 7000 16- to 30-year olds from the United Kingdom, America, Spain, China, Brazil, India and Mexico. It found that 53% of those between 16 and 22 would rather give up their sense of smell than lose their social networks.
No matter what your age is, I’m guessing many of us are in the same boat.
How many of us have gone online to do something and before we know it twenty minutes have disappeared into the Internet Black Hole. We forget what we went there to do in the first place, have seen three weird flossing videos, two how-to blips on YouTube, and a partridge in a pear tree.
So as we enter 2019, and as many of us ponder New Year’s Resolutions, here are six quick tips to liberate your life from social media.
Again, I’m not saying social media is a perpetual Mr. Bad Guy in your life. But if you sense that your time and attention is often slipping through your fingers, or that your time online leaves a dark residue in your cranium, maybe these will help.
Turn your notifications off
Notifications are those little dings that go off. They’re also the little number bubbles that hover over your apps. When you turn them off you’re less tempted to chase the rabbit and see what’s happening in your social media feeds.
Set blackout periods
It can be fun to scroll early morning or before bed. But as many of you know, you sometimes get sucked into a negative place with posts or people who know how to push your proverbial buttons.
Plus, when you’re trying to relax, too much brain activity—even if you’re “just scrolling”—can have the opposite effect.
Blackout periods are just that—blackout periods. They’re times when you don’t check anything, like from 7pm to 8am. Choose what works for you.
Delete apps from your phone
This might be my favorite one of all. And I have to give credit to The Gospel Coalition who wrote about it here. If you’re having a lot of trouble with social media in your life, this can be powerful. It’s not about deleting your accounts altogether, just the app on your phone. That way you’re less tempted to check Facebook or Twitter every five minutes because it’s simply not in your pocket. Instagram (and some others) are harder because they’re specifically designed for mobile use.
Out of sight, out of mind
Another trick some people find helpful is to simply keep your phone in a desk, bag, locker or purse. The less your see it, the less you want to check it.
Don’t fall into the curse of constant comparison
These last two are about perspective.
Don’t fall into the curse of constant comparison. It’s easy to get depressed online because you look at the videos and pictures everyone else is posting and think that must be what their life is like all the time. Since many people only post the pictures they want you to see like the good times, funny times, memorable times, and meaningful times, it’s natural to conclude that their life is full of wonder and yours is full of… well, less than wonder.
Don’t just post for praise
This just feeds into any number of problems. If you’re subtly bragging online it can make other people feel like junk, and might be an indication that you’re seeking affirmation in the wrong places. Before too long you’re counting how many likes, smiles or hearts you got and keep going back to feel better about yourself (or worse).
Again, I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t post things we’re proud of. I love posting pics of my kids after they’ve done something great. But this one is really about motives.
In Mark 2:27 Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” I like to apply that logic to the web: The internet was made for people, not people for the internet.
If you’re feeling like a captive, maybe a few of these tips will help you find the freedom you need.
Happy New Year!
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