Confession: I’ve lost count of how many times I have envied people whose jobs don’t rely heavily on social media. After all, it must be nice to not swing back and forth from the idea of completely disappearing online to dismissing the thought altogether because let’s face it, you need it.
Aside from thinking about quitting their jobs weekly, the average millennial’s coping mechanism for this increasingly stressful world is contemplating going offline for a while. Someplace where there are nice beaches and signs that say “We don’t have WiFi, pretend it’s 1995.” Who knew we would be longing for the old days where the internet was but a distant dream?
Tangled in a virtual web
When we innocently made our first few accounts on social media, the sole purpose was for communicating and getting our thoughts out there. How cool was the idea of Friendster back in 2003 or Facebook back in 2007? They gave us a platform to post selfies captioned “I’m bored” and, for the first time, we could stalk our crush’s every online move.
What we could not have possibly known is that we signed up for apps that, in the future, would control us. As we grew older, social media grew with us. It has now evolved into a gigantic worldwide platform for advertising, marketing, and worst of all, political debates. It’s pretty far from our expectations back in the early ’00s.
It’s perfectly normal to feel fed up with social media
Social media used to be nothing but a great pastime, but scrolling through timelines these days can easily give one headache and stress.
I find myself in a dilemma. On one hand, I depend on social media to remain in the loop on all things entertainment and news – which is essential to my job. But on the other hand, it has evolved into some kind of uncontrollable entity I would be very much glad to be rid of. The feeling has heightened in the wake of a pandemic that shuttered everyone in their homes with nothing but gadgets for entertainment.
The timelines flood us with bad news left and right, political debates, and, sandwiched in between, are the blaring announcements of online shopping sales we do not need. Noise, noise, noise.
And yet, we always seem to have one eye open and trained on Facebook. When we wake up, the first thing we do is to hop on Twitter to check out breaking news we might have missed because wouldn’t it be the worst thing ever if you were late to react on a trending topic? Life has become a paradoxical nightmare.
Chained to technology
We are taught that the first step to genuine change is acceptance. The first step, then, to escaping the powerful grip of social media is to accept that it’s part of our lives now.
According to a 2020 study by creative agency We Are Social, Filipinos spend a daily average of 9 hours and 45 minutes using the internet. As of January 2020, the top five most-used social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube, FB Messenger, Instagram, and Twitter. If your job is something along the lines of ‘Social Media Manager,’ you’re probably drowning in these platforms.
While it’s important to know when we’ve crossed the blurry line between “something you need” and “addiction,” it’s equally important to admit that our ways need to change. Especially when we’re slowly being affected by spending too much time online.
Coping by distancing
If the first step is accepting we’ve become slaves to social media, the second step is effectively distancing ourselves from it.
Social media has opened up hundreds of possibilities and millions of job opportunities for Filipinos. A decade ago, would you have known that Social Media Managers would be a thing? Even becoming entrepreneurs these days are required to dive deep into social media to stay competitive.
So how do you separate yourself from something that has already become like an extension of you? The short answer is you can’t. Not totally, anyway. The long answer would require a certain amount of dedication and perseverance.
The narrow way is paved by discipline
It’s impossible to cut social media from your life completely, especially if it’s important to your job, but it is possible to control it. The third step then is to practice discipline.
Make use of your phone’s Screen Time features to customize a certain period of time where apps will only be accessible. Delete some of the apps on your phone and only access them through your — that way, you don’t spend 2 hours before bed rotating aimlessly through various apps. When you do need social media, give yourself a time limit on how much you’ll be scrolling through it. And most importantly, forget it exists on weekends.
You can even ask help from your family to tell you the latest news instead of you hunting for it on Facebook and Twitter.
Social media speeds up your burnout
For many, social media has been a constant source of stress and a great contributor to poor mental health. A large part of burnouts at work is due to the fact that we’re at everyone’s beck and call. Everyone thinks they will be able to reach you in an instant and that you’re required to immediately respond. Your boss sends you a message at 11 PM and it cuts through your screen while you’re relaxing to a Netflix movie — moment ruined.
Social media also gives us front and center seats to the display of successful lives of peers who might seem like they have it better than us. You see people bragging about promotions, pay raises, and even having stable lives while you’re buried deep under a ton of work and living paycheck to paycheck. No wonder you feel extremely tired by the end of the day.
The social-media free life
Restricting your time on social apps will do wonders not just for your mental health but for your overall well-being. You won’t have to be constantly mulling over purchases you don’t need just because it’s on sale. You won’t find yourself wasting hours aimlessly scrolling through apps for nothing in particular.
Contrary to popular belief that quitting social media altogether is social suicide, you will actually have more time to concentrate on maintaining real friendships, reading, spending time with your family, or discovering a new hobby, as cliché as it sounds. Maybe those “We don’t have WiFi, pretend it’s 1995” signs were onto something.
It’s a self-preservation thing, you see
It’s easier to control social media usage by remembering that you’re supposed to protect yourself from the repercussions – it’s a self-preservation thing. When all is said and done, your job is just a job, and it will never be more important than your wellbeing. So the next time you feel like disappearing from social media but you’re held back by responsibilities, take a breather. Log out of your devices for an hour. And if it makes you feel better, make that an entire day. – 8List.ph