Overwhelmed by social media? Social media fatigue wearing you down? Should you quit social media? These are just some of the questions and its variants that I’ve found myself typing into Google over the last 2 years.
It’s kind of ironic that I’d say that, considering two important things:
- My work/blogs revolve around having a social media presence. Traffic to my blog is highest via these channels.
- I recently was presented an award for handling my social media account on Twitter effectively.
Okay, fine. You can snort with laughter. I’ll give you a moment.
Social media has been an integral part of my existence for a little over 3 years now. Facebook swung into my life in 2007 and Twitter in 2010, I believe, but it was only after I began blogging with earnest that I chose to discover more about these platforms.
Of course, that came with its own share of both bonuses and pitfalls. One of the things we’ll be talking about today is how to combat social media fatigue and balance your life online without getting sucked into the addictive vortex of digital data.
Since I have an active presence on Facebook and Twitter, I’ll be talking about these in particular. Feel free to add your suggestions too in the comments below.
Why it’s addictive
This is clearly one of the biggest draws out there in cyberspace. Facebook is very smart in the way it hooks you to its interface. A veritable stream of pictures, updates, events and articles greets you every single time you log in. The more friends you have, the more populated your news feed. (I should know. I have more than a 1000. Again, chuckle away.)
You also have Facebook messenger to keep in touch with friends and you have groups to connect with like-minded people (although that can sometimes be a bit of a quagmire too). Let’s not forget Facebook business pages who attract your interest. (Ahem)
Facebook knows the pulse of the person using it. It’s actually pretty commendable how they’ve built an entire network on the pure basis of sharing content. I’d have to doff my hat to them for this; unequivocally so.
But the real challenge for most of us writers and bloggers is that it rarely remains as a way for us to catch up with people. While it began as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, it slowly evolved into a way to network with people we met online.
The clear problem with this approach is two-fold: One, you don’t know the person well enough offline to forgive them their anger or laugh at their acerbic wit. Two, you feel compelled to stay friends with people whom you barely know.
How do you handle it?
- You could deactivate your account. Towards the end of 2014, I began to do this every month. It helped me tremendously, to come to terms with my emotional well-being and also gave me some much-needed time off from digital overload. I rarely do it these days, though.
- You can practise mindfulness. If you were to approach every moment of your waking day with intent, this would really help. Think long and hard before posting an update. That’s fairly difficult in the generation of instant gratification but if cultivated, it will help you in the long run. Avoid commenting on status updates where you either don’t know the person too well or find the topic contentious. Both of these can be extremely harmful to your emotional and mental wellness. Of course, if you’re the kind who likes to engage in debate and don’t find yourself getting affected adversely, you can ignore this tip.
- Access Facebook only on the laptop. I know it’s the age of smart phone apps, but un-install it from your phone and see the difference it makes. If you MUST be accessible due to your blog/small business being on Facebook, I recommend using only this app: Facebook Pages. How does this help? You’d still be available to those who need to reach your business and you’d eliminate the need to scroll through the news feed every day.
- Open an alternative Facebook account: I had to create one for work purposes when I decided to deactivate my account. Best decision ever. I have less than 10 friends on that account and I practically never post updates there. It’s exclusively for work and I get a ton of it done. I am off the platform without spending precious minutes on the latest inspirational quote or watching the same meme over and over again.
- Have Facebook-free days: I get that working in the online space mandates being available on social media for most of us. But earmark a day or two a week when you can sign out of all your accounts. Make it the weekend so you can get some much-needed time to catch up on your reading and maybe some time with the family.
Why it’s addictive
If Facebook is like a private pool party, Twitter is like the Oscars. Okay, fine, the Golden Globes. Everyone who is anyone, is on Twitter. It’s a great way to drive social causes, speak up for/against issues ( that itself is grounds for an entirely new blog post) and connect with people for business.
A lot of people are wary of Twitter and possibly with good reason. It’s a very public space, more so than Facebook. You cannot really control who follows your updates (unless you block them) and you really have to think twice as hard before putting up tweets.
For one thing, Twitter moves very fast. A typo will be dissected just as ruthlessly as a comment on the latest foreign policy. But, curiously, that’s precisely also the reason it’s very addictive. Having a tweet seen by your idol or an author you adore, that’s something you don’t get anywhere else.
The accessibility to celebrities is a drug for many people. It also,unfortunately, means that people can be at their worst since there are no restrictions whatsoever.
How do you handle it?
- Pare down the list of people you follow. As I’ve mentioned before, you don’t have to follow everyone who follows you. It’s counter productive. You can take your time, hop over and check their feed and see if it interests you.
- Stay away from ranting/venting. Complaining rewires your brain for negativity, says this piece and I am inclined to agree. The days I find myself even marginally expressing anger/displeasure online, I feel drained. Again, practice intent and mindfulness before tweeting.
- Share content that is in tune with who you are as a person. Don’t engage with views/tweets if they are sure to trigger your anger. For one thing, it doesn’t serve any purpose. I’ve never seen people actually changing their stance after a discussion on Twitter. For another, it’s a chunk of your time squandered.
To be clear, I don’t really advocate swearing off all social media, because, personally, I find that it has its benefits. I’d still recommend being mindful and observing how you approach each platform. What we need to remember is social media is an instrument and as long as we use it exclusively as that instead of as a crutch for our boredom and our distraction, we’d do just fine.
Recommended reading/watching if you’re planning to quit social media cold turkey:
*Cal Newport: Quit Social Media
*Quit social media: Your career may depend on it
*Should you quit social media?
37 thoughts on “Ways to combat social media fatigue”
Very useful tips … if one needs social media presence for their work ( such as freelancers) then its essential to maintain that balance.
Deactivation is a great way to help us understand what we need from a platform and how we can get it. Try it. You won’t be sorry. 🙂
I should find your other fb account and tag you in meaningless memes ??? hehehe ignore me.
I don’t have twitter fatigue as I use it only for sharing blogposts. But instagram is my evil sin. I like your idea of deactivating profile for few days. Though the thought itself is scary, I think that’s a great way to test my will as well.
SOme super duper valid points Shy and yes the deactivation really helps. I have started to veer clear of political/religious rants on twitter which earlier used to suck me in , resulting in huge time loss. FB is become a thing of the past for me as I am so bored with it – Thank god!
November was my month to destress from social media including my blog and it felt so so good!
I have come to realize that it is a blessing to be offline. I love my shut-down button! No social media apps on the phone except when going out. There are so many days social media noise simply bores me. My favorite is instagram–thanks to the photo-sharing. I love social media for all its benefits, but in limited doses. Quite happy not hanging around it. As much as I love a good conversation, staying online is overwhelming, mainly because it keeps me from doing the things I’d rather be doing/have to do.
Very nice post!
Ha ha ha, you’re lucky, you know? I used to be so addicted to FB but thank goodness it’s now a thing of the past. Twitter, let’s just say I love the platform but if it were to disappear tomorrow, I wouldn’t be excruciatingly sad or anything. Life goes on.
Reading this piece again and I still don’t find Twitter as addictive. As for Facebook I seem to have an inborn deactivation button that keeps me off after a binge. So thank goodness. However, mindfulness, like you suggest, would make sure I don’t binge at all.
I might actually have to do some of these soon. There have been times when I wanted to log off it for awhile but kept thinking of the blog page and its related social media thingys and that’s kept me going.
Putting it only on the laptop also sounds like an idea worth trying.
Exactly, Lorelle 🙂 In fact I wrote another post just yesterday on the need for digital minimalism. I’ve been practising it for the last few months and found myself much happier as a result.
Thanks, Jill! I’ve actually updated the post now. The Facebook Groups app has been discontinued unfortunately. So you’d still have to log in to the desktop app or the mobile app to access groups. I find that clicking directly on the Groups link in the sidebar is very useful in helping me limit my time there.
Really interesting post and tips here Shailaja. We really do need to be mindful in regards to social media. Although we need it for our blogs we cannot let it take over completely. 🙂
Great tips thanks. I get sore hands/wrists from typing so much!! I will take your advice on the Facebook apps and try that .Thanks again.
You’re welcome, Varsha! It can get exhausting, I agree, being on social media. I’ve found time blocking to be a very effective technique to manage social media time 🙂
All the best for the break. We can all use one.
Thank you for these tips. I so needed this. I follow some of your tips but still find myself wasting so much time on facebook videos, lagging so much in my editing.
Hope to go for a complete break for one week and then use social media in moderation.
Ha ha about the milk becoming basundi 🙂 I know what you mean. I’ve consciously cut down my social media time these days. Use compartmentalising to help me focus on one thing for brief periods of time.
So glad to have met you through A-Z and I hope to catch up on most of my reading soon.
I know exactly what you mean. I’ve finally learnt how to balance the good with the bad on social media. I don’t react to anything these days. I know that’s not how social media works but I figured it’s the best way for me to retain my sanity. I’ve stopped ranting, sharing popular opinion and overall, just am content with using it for blogging, networking and finding useful links to read.
Thanks for reading and sharing, Vishal 🙂
I have stopped entertaining trolls on Twitter and avoid for it’s so counter productive. Facebook fatigue was getting to me and am off the channel since five months. I will come back in another month after completing full six months. It keeps me sane for I deactivate every year. I agree that FB should be opened only on one device. A timely and very helpful post.
Each of these points is so so very apt. Facebook, especially, is very addictive. I find myself getting carried away into the virtual world quite often only to realise that the milk kept on gas is ready to become “Basundi” . I have contemplated taking a break sometime back, but then A-Z happened and I was back to twitter!!! Good for me though, because April gave me so much good material to read.
As you know, I took a social media break for almost 6 months or so, and it really helped cleanse my mind. In fact, all things considered, I’m sure it was longer than 6 months.
What worked best for me is tip # 3 in the FB list – deleting the app! When the app is on your phone, it’s like a refrigerator – you open it even when you don’t need anything! Deleting it was so refreshing. I didn’t bother to reinstall it.
Twitter, yes, it’s become a narcissistic, vitriolic space, but I consciously go and follow the funny people, cos they are truly good at calming you down at the end of the day. Plus, like I told you the other day, there’s a lot of positivity in your tweets. <3
Those are handy tips. When it comes to wisdom regarding handling social media I follow your advices whole-heartedly. The last time I had shared with you my intent of keeping my FB friends list small, the one I can manage with ease after reading your FB updates about the perils of having too many people in the friends list. I understand having many such friends is also beneficial being a blogger since then your updates reach a wider audience, still I prefer to keep my list small for the peace of mind. Today, my take away from this post is I am going to uninstall Facebook and twitter from my phone to bring in mindfulness in the daily routine.
I understand exactly what u say. A couple of months back I was in a situation where I was overwhelmed with all the social media around me. I was blogging and it was going on all fine with all the traffic coming in from the channels. But some where I felt a deep nag within me and that’s when I decided I needed to do something about it. I first went on a social media detox and when I came back I felt refreshed with ideas. I now restrict my time.. and have discovered the beauty of SEO to generate traffic to my blog . I guess the detox helped me considerably.
I soooo need to be completely offline sometimes- just feels like being free really – … but have a love-hate relationship with social media… Loved you post Shailaja:-) Hugs
I think I have a better handle on my social media addiction than I used to, thanks to being forced out of the virtual world when the real one took over, end of last year.
But I wasn’t aware of those apps – Facebook for Groups & Pages. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely look into them. That way I can avoid the minefield that is Facebook and still connect with the people I want to.
Thanks for these useful tips Shailaja. I know a lot about facebook but need to understand twitter little more. Congrats to u for your award for microblogging. Looking forward to more such posts.
I’m not much of a social media person even so Facebook is a really powerful time waster. I find myself clicking endlessly on links – looking at knick knacks I’m never join to buy and inane celebrity articles. I think mindfulness is the key to keeping myself focussed. I don’t much mind disconnecting but I wonder if I can handle two accounts.
‘Research paper on Om Puri’ ? Shilpa, you are hilarious! I’m really laughing here. So glad the post helped. Thank you for reading 🙂
I waste a lot of my time on Facebook reading the shared articles and posts. I think, I can write a research paper on Om Puri. I must have read almost all articles related to his life and death. And this is when, I am not his hardcore fan. I seriously need to cut down my time on FB. Being conscious and mindful is what would work for me.
Hugs, Naba. I know exactly what you mean. I’m very similar in that sense. We tend to absorb negative energy far more easily so it’s difficult for us. The only option is to consciously disengage. And don’t worry. Avoiding conflict is not a sign of weakness. Not at all. It just means you Don’t want to spend your energy arguing with people and that’s perfectly fine. Please read Quiet by Susan Cain. It helped me tremendously to come to terms with my introversion as a sign of strength. 🙂
Oh Shailaja, you know, social media has been depressing me a lot since the past few months. How can people be so mean?
I’m a very simple person at heart and I take things very personally. I usually avoid conflict but often that is taken as ignorance or weakness, I don’t know. A couple of incidents and the general tone of social media has me disenchanted, really. I stayed away from social media the last four days and have also turned off notifications on my phone. I’m going to try to be on it only once in a while. Because I need my peace of mind. I don’t need additional conflicts in life.
Do whatever comes comfortably to you, Vinitha. If you find anything time consuming or taxing, it’s not worth investing in. Peace of mind is precious.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and suggestions, Rachna. I’m glad you are experiencing the non-dependance on social media. Mindfulness really helps me, so I thought I’d share that as a suggestion.
When it comes to social media, less is always more. Since a few months back, I decided to cut down on my social media time. Most of my traffic comes from search engines and I would like to use social media to purely interact. There are days when I am in the mood to do time pass and that is when I don’t mind spending some time on SM. On other days, I don’t log in for days. I think it is this non-dependence that keeps me sane. This is what works for me. And despite spending lesser time, I have seen no impact on my blogs’ traffic.
Mindfulness is desirable in all spheres of life but very difficult to achieve. If we were that mindful, we really wouldn’t put out so many of our personal thoughts out there for the public. 🙂 So I guess, striving for a balance is necessary not always achievable though, IMHO.
My mantra is the lesser the better. But, of course, each one of us has to come up with our own equation and what works.
Overall, I don’t think it is healthy for any person, no matter in what sphere they work to be hooked on to any medium day and night.
Useful tips and suggestions, Shailaja. I don’t have Facebook app on my phone. I do miss out reading posts on the groups as soon as they are posted, but I figured that it’s okay. And I don’t post much on FB as I used to. Also I try not to accept all the friend requests I receive. But it’s difficult since many bloggers send request as soon as we are connected through blogs. A few months ago I let go off a few of my fb friends whom I have never interacted with. Twitter and me are from two different galaxies. All I do there is share my blogposts and share other bloggers posts. I don’t even know how to interact there. I know I’m missing out. Never took the time to figure out how twitter works.
It’s healthy, Inderpreet. We don’t even realize how much time we spend on these social networks. Mindfulness really helps.
Better late than never sounds perfect. It’s not easy, mind you, especially if we’re in this space of networked connectivity. And the fear of Missing Out is high for many of us. It needs a sharp jolt for us to be open to change. For that, I’m grateful to my stress and anxiety, because they help me come to terms with the reality.
I totally agree with these suggestions and your days of deactivating from facebook initially gave me a shock but slowly I realized its merits and do take a break occasionally. A small one:) but I do.
Good suggestion about the facebook for groups and I too delete or block all negative and ‘share now for good karma’ posts instantly.
That’s why we are friends, Shailaja! We think quite a bit alike, don’t we? We both came up with a post on staying away from social media/ using it for the right purpose so that it doesn’t invade out personal lives! I am so glad I took this decision; I know I should have done it sooner, but, better late than never, yes? I think, slowly and steadily, people are going to realise how they are squandering away their precious time and energy on social media and turn towards things that give them real happiness and peace of mind. Wishful thinking, eh? 🙂
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