The Social Media Diet (first written in 2017)

So the featured image that I’ve included here, courtesy of Morguefile, isn’t actually me. There isn’t a beard but the hair isn’t far off!

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look at a social media outlet.  A channel of communication between myself and others, propagated by a company that provides a platform to talk to others and to digest information and content generated and shared by other users.  This is social media, and it has radically altered the way that the world works for those that are fully submerged.  The drowned victims of the ‘always-on’ generation are submersed in this constant need to know what’s happening, a constant need for the feed.

Unfortunately, the benefits of social media are joined with just as many drawbacks; for our brains, the constant flow of information is like nectar and the constant need for an audience is drives the endorphins that are generated as we share or digest the content.  Like any addiction, it can cause a whole heap of problems including anxiety and depression and for me, I needed to go on a diet.

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It isn’t unheard of to disconnect from social media – recently Ed Sheeran decided that he wasn’t going to bother with Twitter given the amount of abuse that he has suffered recently at the hands of internet trolls.  I have a few friends who have taken themselves off social media completely after it became all too much, but my situation is a tad difficult.

I am a food blogger and social media is my bread and butter (groan).  I get much interest and engagement via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram so I can’t just disappear – it isn’t even an option.  So instead I decided to just go on a diet.

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You don’t have to cut Social Media out of your life completely, it isn’t cold turkey.  Just be mindful of how much you’re using it each day and take away things that make it easy.

This Lifehacker article is actually really good in showing readers ways to disconnect – so I’ll leave it right here for you to have a look at.

TL:DR if you didn’t read it –

1. Eliminate Gadgets for One Hour Before Sleep and After Wake Up

2. Turn Off All Your Push Notifications

3. Keep your phone in a drawer while you’re working.

4. Use Only One Device for Checking Social Media

5. Give Yourself 30 Minutes to Stay Connected

6. Allot One Hour of Your Day to Respond to Emails

7. Subscribe to Your Favorite Websites via RSS or Email

8. Use Third Party Applications to Post on Social Media

9. Live a Real Life

The last one is the most important.  If you can master getting off social media, then you’ll realise that there is a life to live.  One thing I cherish are what I call ‘analogue friendships’ with friends who I have who are not constantly online; you have to see them and talk to them or talk to them on the phone.  These are the friends who make it special to actually see them because not everything is out for the world to see, there is much to talk about and to catch-up over.

And, it doesn’t have to be forever! Give yourself a week on, then maybe a week off, then another week on, etc. Or do it by the day? Schedule days where you’ll be completely off-line and other days when you know you’ll be checking it regularly.

I’ll leave you with a quote:

“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.”  Gretchin Rubin