The rise of the Internet and social media has been a great thing in many ways. It’s allowed us to reconnect with long lost friends or find new ones that we may never have had the chance to meet in “real life”--it’s birthed a new method of communication that’s given many people the ability to make connections that might not have been possible before. Heck, it connected you and me!
With every invention, however, there’s often a drawback or two. The lightbulb allowed us more illumination in our lives--but people and businesses having the power to make a “day” last for 24 hours has more than its share of problems, in addition to benefits.
Same with social media.
The very method that allows us to keep in touch with friends and connect with those who have similar goals can become both a time drain, if we put too much focus on it, and a source of unhappiness, if we engage in the comparison game and believe ourselves to be lacking.
How do you make the most of social media as a resource? Is it possible to only reap the benefits of it, or at least mitigate the negative effects?
Studies have shown that excessive social media use can have a negative impact when it decreases the amount of physical activity you get, the number of face to face interactions you have, or if it increases your feelings of inadequacy when you see what you believe to be a higher quality of life lived by others.
Of course, sabbaticals from social media are always a good idea, just to reset and reconnect, but a plan for your ongoing participation can help you balance your use so that it’s a positive tool in your life, not something that makes you feel worse.
A few suggestions…
Limit Your Intake.
Facebook has almost a billion users on it every day, and most of them spend at least an hour there. If you’re one of the billion--or you’re one of the people sending 500 million tweets per day--consider setting yourself a time budget. In fact, this isn’t a bad idea for all internet usage; instead of having your phone out constantly, make a list through the day of things you need to Google, handle through email, or watch on YouTube and how much time you want to spend on social media before sitting down to do it. (Don’t forget to bookmark this blog and include it in your time budget, or sign up for our newsletter). Think of the advice so many give about slowing down, and not eating on the run as a step to truly enjoying your food...and try it with your digital input, as well.
Comparison doesn’t have to be the death of contentment, if you’re doing it right. A picture may be worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, but if you’re just looking at an image on Instagram with no context, you may be filling in the wrong thousand words. The model may have used a mega filter. She may have personal pain and struggles that no amount of pretty can fix. She may cry herself to sleep at night. Or, she may have a wonderful life, and minimal problems and bodyfat. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that her life is her life. She’s sharing pictures of it--it doesn’t mean that your life isn’t great, which brings us to the final suggestion…
One surefire antidote to discontentment from comparison is focusing on what’s right in your own life. You could totally eschew social media, so that you don’t have to look at progress pics of others that make you wilt, but they’re still there. The permanent solution is to learn to be happy for anyone who is doing well in any given arena (housecleaning, partner-getting, or muscle-building), while also focusing on what’s good with you. And sharing it. Yes, putting your own less-than-picture-perfect pics and videos up when you reach a goal or have something awesome--or hard--to share not only helps you, it helps others. (Consider tagging your doses of reality with #instareality and your feats of strength with #busymomgetsfit & #gorgogirl so I can share your journey.)
I LOVE social media (and a great motivational post... ha), but have to limit myself as well. The internet and social media can still be great resources that create opportunities, enhance relationships, and make new ones possible that wouldn’t have been viable before.
Let’s just keep it all in perspective, focus on the positive aspects, and let go of the behaviors that hinder progress in life.