How to have a soul-centered approach to social media
“The real problem of humanity is the following:
We have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology. And it is terrifically dangerous, and it is now approaching a point of crisis overall.”
- E.O. Wilson
I opened up my Twitter feed the other day and within minutes, I was depressed. There is way too much negativity for me. There are so many people feeling so many feelings and sharing them everywhere. It’s overwhelming. I've been thinking about the power of social media this week and especially about how much influence these private companies have on our lives.
It's time for a soul-centered approach to how we use these channels in our lives.
I just read through an email I subscribe to, and the author was talking about social media and how it is impacting us. The author, Corbett Barr, says, “The way social media manipulates us individually is incredibly powerful. It’s so powerful that it goes far beyond our own feelings and emotions. Social media may actually contribute to an existential threat to society and democracy.” You can read his entire post here.
I asked you on my recent survey about the social media sites you use. Thanks to those of you who took the time to complete the survey. The top two social media sites used by you are Facebook and Instagram. Facebook owns both platforms. Like me, many of you have alove/hate relationship with social media. After reading Barr’s article, I decided to take stock of my social media use.
I want my social media use to be aligned with what is most important to me. Here is how I approached it:
1. Take inventory: I listed all the social media accounts I use. For me, that included LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor and Pinterest. (And I'm waiting to test Clubhouse but that might be FOMO more than anything else.)
2. Evaluate your use: I looked at each one and asked myself some questions including:
How much time do I spend on this list?
In what way is this platform helping me?
In what way is this platform hurting me?
Do I really need to be on it? Why?
You might have different criteria for evaluating your platforms.
3. Remove social media apps on your phone. I did this a while ago and it really limits the time I spent on social media. The only app I use is Instagram on my iPad. All the other social media sites I use on my web browser. Everything else I log in through my laptop. It makes it less impulsive to check them.
4. Consider how you use social media. Given the events in the past few weeks, I think we all need to take a good look at our online consumption. It’s a good place to get honest about your use. I think there are two main areas you can focus on when it comes to social media:
Posting: This area gets a lot of attention. The social media giants may want us to focus our attention on monitoring what we post online. It is the area we have some control over. We often hear stories about what is being posted. We are warned about how our posts follow us forever. Here’s one resurfacing this week that was written four years ago:
I know many people who spend time on social media and don’t post. It’s tempting to think, “If I don’t post, I’m safe on social media.” Posting is only a small part of the social media experience.
Consumption: This area is by far more insidious than posting. There are two things that you need to be aware of on social media one is what you're putting out there but the second is what you're consuming we often focus on the first aspect of what we're putting out there as if that is the main threat with social media but as we now know a bigger threat is what we are consuming when we're on social media not only is it dangerous or risky to be sharing personal information on social media there is a danger also in what we are consuming make that my newsletter.
How much are you consuming? It’s easy now on smartphones to get stats on how much time you spent on social media. You might be surprised! Scrolling mindlessly through social media feeds can impact us in so many ways. We can become dissatisfied with our lives. We can feel more isolated. We can start to compare our experience to the wonderful snapshots of life other people are posting. Remember, what we post is curated. We post what we want other people to see about our lives and rarely the whole picture.
Our focus is also being impacted by social media. Especially if you have notifications turned on. (Do yourself a favour and turn them off.) Take back your time and check-in when it works for you.
What are you consuming? One of the reasons I like IG is that people can follow me and I don’t have to follow them back. I can choose the accounts that interest me. A couple of times a year I go through and cull those accounts. If I'm starting to get dragged down by someone I’m following I unfollow them - even if it disappoints them. I also choose to follow accounts that represent other views than my own or stretch my thinking. I’ve been trying to follow more BIPOC accounts when I discovered that I was lacking in diverse voices.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to social media. This week’s link will focus on resources to help you become more aware of your social media consumption and make healthier choices. If you subscribe to my newsletter you'll receive the additional weekly resources.