How to Make Social Media Work for YOU

Eight effortless self care solutions to help you enjoy your social media more

Were you impacted by this week’s Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger outage?

The outage coincided with news of the Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who was preparing to testify at the US Senate on Tuesday around how Facebook KNEW that the platform was amplifying hate. That Facebook not only allowed but encouraged it with algorithms that rewarded the engagement the emotion incites

For profit.

So even though we’ve known for YEARS that they had a hand in ‘misinformation’ (aka lies) around the Brexit vote and the US Presidential elections in 2016 and 2020, the conspiracy theories around public health now and the rise in domestic terrorism there’s now documentation that Facebook was aware.

As well as undermining democracy, there’s concern around teenagers, Instagram and mental health

My HOPE is that when it was down, they quickly FIXED the issues and will use their power more responsibly moving forward.

The reality (as I understand it at time of drafting this) is that it was more a matter of Facebook and the internet being held together with duct tape

But, with it having been created as a way to objectify women and girls, I’m not holding my breath.

Still, as I’ve got older, I’ve become better at not throwing out babies with bathwater. I LOVE social media. Including Facebook and Instagram. WhatsApp was a sanity saver when I moved countries in 2019 and throughout the pandemic.

I included digital detoxes as a self care idea in the book, 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing back in 2016 (when I filed the manuscript with the publisher) but, well, these platforms have become even more compelling since then.

I hope these self care coaching tips around using Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms in a way that enhances your life are helpful.

REMEMBER IT’S THERE TO SERVE YOU

Just because you CAN be on however many platforms doesn’t mean it’s compulsory. You get to choose the apps that suit your lifestyle, business and personality. Use your nervous system as a guide. What feels GOOD? What leaves you feeling worse?

BE CONSCIOUS AROUND WHEN YOU CHOOSE TO USE IT

Now you’re limiting your online time to only what feels good, does it feel TOO good? Are you a little addicted? Think about your ideal social media schedule. This isn’t about putting even more on your plate but simply encouraging you to connect with what a good amount of time would feel like for you. If you check it every few minutes, would once an hour feel better? Once every couple of hours? Once a day? You know yourself best. Even (especially!) when, like me, you use it for work, it’s still your choice.

USE ITS ADDICTIVE PROPERTIES TO GET OTHER STUFF DONE

I’ve started putting it further away from me. Basic behavioural patterning in NLP terms – having to consciously get up to reach for my phone means I have that pause in which I can consider. Do I need to read whatever that ping was now or can it wait? You might choose to turn notifications off completely. I’m using the dopamine boosting ping (again, I love it. If it stresses you out, this might not work for you) to help me focus better on whatever task (or film or episode) is taking priority. Decide on limits for yourself and use that anticipation of reward to supercharge your in real life efforts. Best of all worlds.

RESORT TO GOOD OLD FASHIONED PEN AND PAPER

Where I’d previously be endlessly pausing to google actors and see what I might have seen them in before or stopping whatever I was doing to Google all sorts of things, I now employ something I’ve done for decades with my writing. I make a note and keep going with the current focus. For example, with this draft blog, I put things I’ll link to later in bold so I can do them all in one go. And I keep pen and paper by me at all times so, when limiting my device use, I can note things to look up later. THEN, when I’ve finished whatever I promised myself I’d finish, I can marvel anew at the magic of the internet and look it all up then.

AMP UP YOUR MEDITATIVE PRACTICES

Mindfulness is wonderful not just in the moment but, in time, with practice, for rewiring our brains. (I shudder to think how atrocious my focus and concentration would be without my daily yoga and meditation). Mindfulness isn’t just about taking yourself off alone. Mindful presence includes enjoying long slow blinks of love with your cat, gurgling delightedly back at your baby, playing with your pooch, LISTENING to your loved ones and friends. Being present. On purpose. Committing to a daily or twice a day practice in addition to your time scrolling is like eating nourishing, nutritious, healthy food AS WELL AS enjoying treats.

REMEMBER YOUR PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

While regulation is obviously overdue, we are all responsible for what we post and share. Wearing my freelance journalism hat, I probably have more awareness than most around my responsibilities as to what I ‘publish’. I usually remember to check my sources and I cite them so people reading can identify reputable outlets. If something strikes a chord but doesn’t seem right, Google can be a wonderful way to find out more information. And Snopes may have already done some investigating. It only takes a few moments and then you at least know whether what you want to share is easy to fact check or obvious ‘misinformation’ (aka lies). We are being led to a certain degree but we have WAY more power and responsibility than an algorithm. Use it wisely.

SORT BACKUP

If the outage had happened at the height of lockdown or when I’d first moved to Ireland, I’d have been bereft without my WhatsApp (although I managed a good few weeks – just about – when I first got here before I had the kind of internet that meant I could do more than access one message per day, staring hard to encourage it to work). I was grateful for local loved ones and also old fashioned phone numbers for texting and calling those further afield. And, for work, my mailing list I use social media a LOT for work but could carry on without it, thankfully. What measures do you now want to put in place for your personal comfort and potentially for work?

CURATE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA

Yes. It can be depressing to scroll and see people we know in real life as well as those we’ve never met seemingly living the life. It can be easy to forget that they’re edited highlights. I LOVE the friends and strangers who live inside my phone. Many I know in real life, others, I’ve never met but they FEEL really important to me. I also love being able to read favourite authors’ tweets and posts. Ditto artists, activists, politicians, Notice the posts that uplift, inspire, encourage and educate you. Notice the people you feel most committed to. Simply unfollow the rest. Again, we get to CHOOSE.

What’s your favourite way to BENEFIT from social media?

I hope this post helps you remember your choices.

Please feel free to share this post on your social media etc so others who may find it helpful can read it

FIND FEEL BETTER EVERY DAY WITH EVE MENEZES CUNNINGHAM ON SOCIAL MEDIA (Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and Facebook) HERE

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With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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