A Comprehensive Guide to Getting the Most Out of Social Media
Social media has been one of the most impactful innovations of the twenty-first century – and the long-term effects of the invention are far from their conclusion. The channel has afforded unprecedented opportunities in terms of interhuman connection and socialization.
Yet, with all its advantages, people seem to be suffering from an overuse of social media, so how do we fix it?
Social media is highly addictive; the reward mechanism of posting and receiving likes, comments, and shares replicates an emotional validation process on a strange, micro level – we become addicted to the feeling and start to feel more negatively if we are not receiving these responses. According to a study by ExpressVPN, around 8 out of 10 Gen-Z social media users claim that their usage of online channels has impacted the extent to which they feel depressed, anxious, and have low self-esteem. It is peculiar, then, that the majority of the young population can recognize that their mental health is affected by social media misuse but do little to change this.
If you feel like social media is negatively impacting your life and that you want to do something about it – great: that's the first step. Sometimes it can be difficult to remove ourselves from the situation in order to recognize that a change is needed, and social media usage is no different. To really get the best out of social media, there are a few steps to take.
Firstly, you need to identify and understand all the ways in which you use social media. Apple software allows you to track your usage using ‘Screen time', which is a useful tool for this activity. Identify which apps you use, how often you use them, and what you use them for.
Take a critical approach in this step and be honest with yourself: which of these apps are actually beneficial to me and why? Do I really enjoy using Instagram to keep up with friends or do I waste my time scrolling through a mind-numbing feed to distract myself from the productive things I should be doing? These are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself here – be brutal.
The Sorting Process
Look through your work so far – you should have a detailed evaluation of your usage of every app on your phone. You can now categorize them. You might like to choose different categories, but they may look something like: beneficial vs waste of time, happiness-inducing vs depressing, necessary vs optional, or any other category that separates the ‘good' from the ‘bad'.
Acting on it
You now have a clearly defined list of what social media is good for you and which may not be so, according to your very own evaluation. What you choose to do from here depends on the extent to which you wish to change your view on social media. If you have adopted the accountability needed to begin this process, you can finish it off too: delete the negative apps and really start to get the most out of the wonderful innovation that is social media.