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Over the last few years, companies have spent billions on social marketing, influencers have taken over our feeds, and people have convinced themselves that social media is public enemy #1. I can accept the first two points. But the third, not so much.
I’ll admit social media can be draining. We’ve programmed ourselves to unlock our phones and immediately tap Instagram during any downtime. Our perception of reality has become a bit skewed because everyone on our feed is eating a $20 croissant while sitting on a private jet. We feel annoyed, anxious, and slightly disappointed it’s not us riding on a PJ. And when you try to curb those emotions, you turn to Google and type “how to stay sane on social media,” only to find the first piece of advice is to turn off your phone completely.
But for some of us, closing out of every social app just isn’t an option. If you work in media or even manage social accounts for a business, you can’t just delete these apps and act as though the digital world doesn’t exist. Lack of engagement and response can hurt a brand’s presence and reputation.
Now you’re probably wondering, how exactly do I stay sane then?
As someone who works with multiple business accounts and tries to stay active on my own personal account, I’ve changed the way I consume digital media so that it no longer pulls away at my self-esteem, creativity, and energy. I’ve listed those changes below in hopes that someone struggling with this balance is reminded that social media can be a fun and interesting place.
When you realize your screen time for the week is up to 40 hours, saying “social media is ruining our lives” is the easy-out. And it’s a cop-out. The truth is we are the problem.
This is a hard pill to swallow because we don’t want to admit that poor time management skills and lack of restraint are the reasons we’re not productive.
In order to change these habits, we have to tell ourselves that we use social media, not the other way around. That way, you can navigate these spaces without these spaces dictating your life.
I tend to spend the most time on Instagram since the infinite scroll function on the explore page introduces me to new people, places, and the most random shit I’ve ever seen. The downside to the explore page is that it’s populated based on my interests. That’s why I have five different Instagram accounts.
Yes, I know that sounds excessive, but let me explain. I enjoy my personal account because I see updates from my family, colleagues, and closest friends. These are people I know and want to keep up with.
But I also want to stay up to date with some of my favorite celebrities and influencers. And because people with large followings have higher engagement rates, the Instagram algorithm brings their posts to the top of my feed, and I completely miss the cute photo my dad posted of my brothers back home. This is why I made an account specifically for the famous people I want to keep up with. And I only check this account once or twice a week so I’m never overwhelmed by the rich and extravagant life that is not mine – yet.
I also have other inspo accounts. One for home decor, one for health and beauty tips, and one full of my favorite writers and artists. That way, I’m mindfully clicking on each profile based on what I’m interested in at that moment. I also do the same for Twitter, where I’ve separated my feed based on friends and colleagues, and news updates.
Remember, it’s not so much about counting hours of screen time, because that sucks just as much as counting calories. Focus on the quality of content on your screen and the purpose it serves at that moment.
One of the main reasons why I won’t delete my social accounts is because there are too many helpful tips or funny videos I’ve saved. In a few seconds, I can look back on the post of the key lime cupcake recipe. Or the picture of the shoes I want to order later on. Once you find convenience in some of the subtle features, like bookmarking, you will start to appreciate these apps for what they are – handy digital scrapbooks.
I have an annoying aunt who posts cheesy motivational quotes about three times a day. I am not into it. But I’d feel bad if I unfollowed her. That’s why I just mute her. It’s your account and you have control over what’s on your feed. If you don’t want to cause potential tension by tapping that unfollow button, hit “mute.”
If you spend the day documenting social analytics, all those marketing strategies will be stuck in your head when you sign into your personal account. This only sucks the fun out of the content you want to share because you know what generates likes and comments, and you know what doesn’t. If you feel the pressure to increase your following or engagement, this obsession will only limit your creativity.
To make this a bit easier, try not to check your personal account until after work hours. During the day, you should focus on client work, and use your evenings to share fun pictures and search for inspo. Once you create a clear divide, you can better adjust what you consume at what hours of the day.
Even with all these tips, you might feel like social media is still a dark hole full of memes and heavily-edited photos. But no matter how badly you wish they were erased from the internet, they won’t be. These platforms will always exist. Hot models will always exist. Those $20 croissants will always exist. But your peace of mind won’t.
This is where accountability comes in again with a reminder that you’re the one in control. If, after trying these tips, you find that social media is still hurting your self-esteem or impacting your productivity, maybe working in today’s media isn’t for you. It’s a draining job that requires you to be up to date with the latest trends, hottest topics, and the newest algorithms. It also requires those of us behind the devices to take a break when needed, which is exactly what I’m going to do right now.
So while I go eat lunch and talk to my coworkers face to face, you can head to Instagram and follow @mrsmithagency.
Kidding. Kind of.