The fact that social media runs our lives might just be the biggest understatement of the 21st Century (at least so far). Ever since the invention of the internet, technological integration in our lives has increased rapidly. This snowball started gathering speed with the advent of smartphones and online social platforms. Now it’s become an almost indispensable part of our daily routine. We use social media to not only interact with friends, but also to stay up-to-date with news and trends, to humour ourselves with memes, for entertainment, to shop and to even find love.
Long gone are the days of dial-up internet, where it would take ages to simply log on. We only had access to handful of avenues for digital interaction, MSN Messenger, Myspace and Orkut to name a few. We are currently inundated with a plethora of apps to choose from and every day newer ones are being created to distract us from the monotony of our lives. The power of social media and the connectivity it brings with it is such that even workplaces are being merged with it. Facebook, in fact, has a whole platform dedicated to creating more efficient online work experiences called (quite unimaginatively I must add) Workplace. Moreover, apps such as Slack are now being used frequently by teams to interact with each other online.
What this does is bring about increased access to those around us and the world at large. However, it definitely brings problems with it as well. I’m not going to go into a long-winded debate here about the merits of social media versus its faults; what Iâ€™m going to do is talk about how those who wish to take a break from this constant need to be “online” can achieve their goal.
Recently, I find myself repeating the same thing: “I would like to go on a social media detox.” We all know detoxes are all the rage with us millennials. So while we invest a lot of time and energy (and money) in our juice cleanses for a cleaner body, we ignore the most important detox of all: the mental one. We’re all aware of the pernicious effects of social media on our mental health, so it’s only fair that we occasionally try to reboot our systems. However, we’re quite unable to â€” that is the deep integration of tech in our lives.
Just the other day I was having this discussion with our Editor-in-Chief, Mehek Raza Rizvi, where I once again mentioned my need for a social media detox. She nodded assent, but also pointed out that although this is a thought she consistently has, it’s quite hard to execute. I understood her point; with the extent to which we rely on social media, going on a detox can be daunting. Even when we’re on holiday, we find ourselves on one app or the other. So perhaps what needs to be changed is the way we use social media, rather than abandoning it entirely (and failing miserably at it).
Therefore, this fortnight I’ll be guiding you on ways to make simple adjustments to your lives that can allow for a reduction in your active digital time. The funny thing is that the tools for such a task are built into our phones.
Firstly, we need to gauge how much time we’re spending on our phones or the computer and within that, what chunks of time are spent on idling around on social media apps. Many phones and computers now have software that measures screen time for us. If yours doesn’t, then download apps such as “Freedom” or “Space.â€
The second step is to set limits on apps. A few weeks ago, on a very busy work day, I decided to set limits on all apps that had nothing to do with work and where I found myself spending most of my time. It worked like a charm! For five hours, I had no access to my Twitter or Instagram feeds, I wasn’t able to play any games on my phone and there were no random Snapchat messages that needed my attention. Once again, these are built-in features in most modern phones and computers, but other software can be downloaded to help with this.
You just need to figure out what apps are taking up most of your time and aren’t related to your work at all. Obviously, if your work is also heavily integrated with social media, then logging out of your personal accounts can help. Or see if you can use a separate work phone. Turning off post notifications allows further distance from apps. One thing that seems to work for a lot of people around me is to simply delete certain apps. Many tend to delete Facebook and Twitter off their phones, choosing only to access them via a computer. This allows freedom from scrolling during commutes. Instead, you have time to pick up a book!
Another way to reduce endless, mind-numbing scrolling is to put on your “Do Not Disturb” feature at night. This way you won’t get distracted by notifications or the glare of your screen while you’re trying to fall asleep.
These are just some of the things that I’ve been practicing to reduce my screen time and the stress that social media usage inflicts on us. So far, it’s going quite well. But as with everything, sometimes you need a full detox. I’m planning on disconnecting entirely soon and seeing how that goes for me.
What are some of the ways you disconnect? Reach out to us (ironically) on our social media and let us know.