Social Media: Uncontrollable Time-Suck or Useful Connector?
Over the last few months I have had various friends quit social media; either for a short period of time or indefinitely. They seem fed up with its effect on themselves and/or the societal impact on those around them... or maybe they were just tired of hearing about weather and babies all the time. I myself have been in that place frequently, one of frustration about the time I allow myself to spend on social media and of the often incoherent posts made by the (seemingly) least self-aware people on the planet. AND I really like certain aspects of social media (Facebook and Instagram specifically). I love connecting with people and seeing beautiful and inspiring images. People share their art and themselves on those mediums and I truly enjoy that aspect of the interwebs.
So what is a girl to do? The question comes up for me of, how much is too much to enjoy? What does over-sharing actually mean? How do self awareness and self regulation play a part in my daily interaction with social media platforms? I am asking these questions because before I began to regulate my time on social media, I was certainly wasting precious hours across the various interactive platforms. I also found myself going to social media when I came upon a difficult situation or problem; I would resort to scrolling versus actually dealing with what needed my attention. This included schoolwork, reading, relationships, time with God, etc... I realized that it was necessary for me to approach this problem not from a stark, "I will cut out all social media for 30 days or 40 days or 60 days", it was important for me to figure out a long-term solution to my problem. The challenge for me lies in my willingness to daily discipline myself, not to just commit to a 30 day social media cleanse (I am not bashing those who have participated in these, as that would include myself and I really try to stay away from self-shaming).
Therefore, the regulatory practice I have utilized for the last month or so has been a commitment to stay off of my "time-suck" applications until 6 pm. No scrolling, no perusing, no article posting or commenting or liking. This transition has not been easy, my addiction to the scroll was difficult to overcome, and sometimes I will find myself wandering onto those sites or applications before 6. But my awareness has increased and I am usually able to relinquish my gaze and close down the tab. My choice may seem severe to you, because maybe you do not struggle with escaping to social media and it is not a time-suck for you. But I wonder if there are things that you use to check out from what is actually going on in your heart.
Your journey is your own and I encourage you to not simply be a participant in your walk through the coming months and years; consider the things you actually have control over (i.e., how you spend your time) and figure out what it means to maximize your precious resources. You are a thoughtful, intentional person, do not let yourself get sucked into checking out from your life.
p.s. beware of replacement time-sucks, secondary websites and apps will probably show up and it will be tempting to focus on them (if you decide to regulate your time in the book or insta).