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How Do We Use Social Media Healthily?

by Abigail Phang. |

Do you find yourself re-editing the same picture for an hour before posting it? Or do you spend a whole evening doing retakes to get that one perfect shot for your Instagram? Social media inherently plays a major role in most of our lives, especially in such an advanced era as this. Social media can bring many advantages: it allows us to easily reconnect with our old friends and stay up to date with all that is happening around the world. However, it has now become an enemy and a devil’s tool, taking over people’s lives and affecting their social interactions, physical wellbeing, and mental health.

It is therefore important that we know how to use this powerful tool wisely to combat any negative side effects. Here are some guidelines to begin with:

1. Limit your screen time

Most people struggle with social media addiction as they fail to use it moderately. Take note of the number of hours you spend online and set a healthy limit for yourself. You can keep track with a digital timer, or utilise in-apps reminders, such as the ‘Time on Instagram’ feature on Instagram, which alerts you once you have exceeded your set time limit. Once you have reached your set time limit, turn off all notifications to prevent yourself from being tempted to check in again.

2. Choose the content that you see

What shows up on your feed has great influence over you. It can affect your physical wants and mental health. For example, you may not have wanted to get a new pair of shoes until you saw someone posting about it. Control what shows up on your feed by following people who bring you positive vibes and eliminating those that make you feel bad about yourself. If someone’s posts are constantly feeding into your insecurities, then it’s best that you stop their posts from showing up on your feed.

3. Be mindful of your own posts

It is important to be aware of what we ourselves are posting. Do your posts reflect who you are, or are they fabricated images of yourself that have been edited and enhanced to meet unrealistic, conventional standards? If you’re constantly looking for the perfect picture, or obsessively revising over your content before broadcasting it, then maybe social media has impacted you in deeper ways than you realise. To develop a healthy mindset towards social media usage, your posts should represent who you are - your values, the things you appreciate, and the things you enjoy. Do not put unnecessary pressure on yourself to portray a perfect version of your life on social media. It should be used as a platform for individual expression, not for everyone to fit into the same bubble.

4. Do not compare

Whenever you see people posting about their best lives, it is important to note that an image frozen in time does not represent the whole picture. It is only natural for others, especially influencers, to display the best parts of their lives online. However, no one truly knows what goes on behind closed doors. The same people whom you look up to and envy on social media may just be going through the same obstacles as you are behind the scenes. Therefore, always remind yourself not to compare your life, belongings, or physical appearance with those that you see online. Better still, if you have a hard time doing so, eliminate this sort of posts completely by unfollowing accounts that damage your mental wellbeing, as mentioned above.

5. Support and connect

Use social media as a platform to support others and to connect with them. It is an excellent tool for communication and keeping up with your friends’ lives. Send someone an encouraging or congratulatory message when it best suits, and use social media as a way to keep in touch with people who are physically too far, or just too busy to meet up with. You can also utilise social media as a platform for networking and meeting new people. That way, you can have a rough idea of what they are like before deciding if you would like to pursue such a relationship. If you tend to be shy in real life, talking to people on social media is also a way to build a foundation for potential friendships and relationships.

6. Don't entertain pointless posts

Although some online discussions can be fun, engaging, and informative, there are also the ever-present trolls and instigators who are simply looking for fights and arguments to pass their time. Whenever you see comments that are purposefully triggering and offensive, ignore them and move on. Realise that most of these people are simply just bored and have no purpose for you to invest your time and efforts in.

7. Take necessary breaks

You might feel overwhelmed by the constantly-happening scene of social media, and occasionally feel the need to take a break. Don’t feel bad that you’re ‘disconnecting' with another part of the world, for it is actually much needed and can be crucial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for some people. Feel free to go on a ‘social media cleanse’ every once in a while until you feel that you’re ready to join the field again. Uninstall the app or even temporarily deactivate your account to fully remove any distractions that may hinder you from your break.

With that being said, go ahead and put these tips into practice to improve your social media game. And remember: your social media should serve you, not your followers or anyone else, so post to express, not to impress.

You can also learn more about the writer on Instagram.

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