At this point, almost all of us have heard of the Facebook effect: the more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to feel envious, discontented, and depressed. But for many of us, giving up on social media means feeling disconnected with the world and missing out on a window into our loved ones’ lives. What should we do?
This year, 2016, can be the year that social media works for you! Combat the Facebook effect and make your social media experience more uplifting with these five simple tips.
1) Pare down your friends list
How many people do you know intimately and care deeply about? Ten? Thirty? Fifty? Probably not 338, which is the average number of “friends” on Facebook. As we move through various stages of life, we accumulate social media contacts from various schools, clubs, church congregations, etc. But rarely do we go back through and clean out our social media profiles as we begin a new chapter of life.
The more people we follow on social media, the more social media has the power to suck us in. Think about it: does it take more time to scroll through thirty followers’ posts or three hundred? Following more acquaintances also makes it more likely that there will always be someone’s red letter day (like engagements, weddings, baby announcements, vacations, promotions, etc.) in your face. Too many Cancun beach pictures in February could make anyone envious and discontented.
Purge your friends list, and be ruthless. Ask yourself, “Do I engage with this person off-line? Do I even engage with this person on-line (other than admiring/coveting their Cancun pictures)?” If there is someone whose social media presence is particularly obnoxious to you, but you are worried about giving offense, Facebook provides an “Unfollow” option that will hide a friend’s posts but keep them on your friends list.
2) Choose your social media platform carefully
It’s called the Facebook Effect for a reason. Some social media platforms are just more likely to make us angsty. Research has some data on which social media platforms inspire more happiness (spoiler: Snapchat won), but think about which sites make YOU happy or stressed. Does Pinterest inspire feelings of inadequacy or serenity? Do you love seeing your friends’ pictures (consider Instagram), or do you prefer their pithy remarks (Twitter)?
3) Follow inspiring accounts
And be honest. Do you really enjoy politics on your home page? If it excites and wakes up your mind, keep it! If your “fitspiration”, though, just makes you want to go back to bed, quit it. Some people love memes and quotes, others roll their eyes. Know thyself!
4) Avoid the comment section
Intelligence, kindness, and politeness are rarely found in the comment section of any part of the Internet. Disappoint the trolls and find something better to do with your time.
5) Don’t forget to live!
The most effective antidote to the Facebook Effect is to live a full and exciting life. If social media too often depresses you and fills you with “FOMO” (fear of missing out), perhaps social media is not the problem. The way you feel on social media may only be a symptom of a larger problem. Lurking online feels flat for a reason– it is quite literally a two-dimensional experience! If your life feels drab and unfulfilling in comparison to the world of social media, find something off-line that excites you. Remember that life is made of stages; perhaps this stage has limitations, but the next one may have more opportunities. Stay hopeful, and keep your eye out for a new adventure!
Love social media? Click here to read more about giving yourself and your family the best social media experience possible!