[This article is a two part series between TechFlow and Mental Music. Check out the accompanying article on TechFlow to see how phones are really impacting our lives.]
Being happy on social media seems like the far away and exotic island that only few of us are ever going to experience. What’s more, the effects of phones on our daily lives is immense. As Maddy from Mental Music pointed out, the impacts reach anywhere from our sleep to our social lives. But with a few handy tricks we can begin rewire ourselves to enjoy our online experience much more - especially on social media. If you’re a teen that finds themselves in a pit of deep despair after scrolling through your Instagram feed or you simply want to have a more enjoyable time online, then check out the tips below.
Before You Begin
1. Set an intention.
Before you get on social media, stop, take a breath, and remind yourself that your goal is to have a positive experience.
2. Clean up your feed.
Hone your skills in the art of the unfollow. Clear your feed of people that complain and post negative content, and choose to replace them with people and pages that inspire and share feel-good content. You might not feel it instantly, but over time, your mind will thank you because it doesn’t always have to deal with incessant negativity and comparison.
"Don’t follow people who make you feel bad or obsess, like exes or friends who brag nonstop,” says Susan Kraus Whitbourne, PhD, author of The Search for Fulfillment. “Ask yourself, Does this account inspire me?” says Adams. Then hide or block energy suckers — they won’t even notice.
3. Let go of your attachment to the outcome; don’t expect a certain number of likes.
You might think that likes = validation and that the more likes you get the more liked you are as a person, or that if you don’t get likes that you're not liked as a person. The amount of likes you get has nothing to do with who you are, how attractive you are, or how many friends you have. The most important thing is to be happy with yourself (something we’ll cover in another article). Then, the validation of the outcome doesn’t mean anything or, at most, is very minimal.
4. Post positive content. Avoid complaining.
Ask yourself, “Is what I'm posting positive? Is it going to hurt somebody else emotionally?”. Also, don’t complain or engage in arguments or negative conversations that ultimately lead to nowhere – sometimes it’s better to just agree to disagree and go your separate ways. Besides you can be spending your time and energy on something much more constructive. However, I’m not suggesting that we should pretend that bad things don’t happen, or that we should hide or suppress our feelings. If someone is We should, however, ensure that we do our best to see things in a positive light to avoid spiraling further down a path of negativity.
5. Challenge your initial reaction to criticism.
If you receive a negative comment, take some time to reflect upon whether or not there’s truth in it. It’s not easy, but try to detach from your ego and be honest with yourself – that’s the best way to move forward and improve yourself. If it’s true, express your gratitude to that person for bringing it to your attention. If it’s not true, delete and don’t engage. “Cyberbullying and harassment are more common on pseudonymous sites, like Twitter and Reddit, but found all over the web,” says Vitak. “Block the hater. Don’t dignify him with a response.” Report truly bad actors to the site’s administrators.
6. Don’t be worried about what other people think.
Whether it’s your mom, your friends or some random troll on the internet, are you really not going to live your life based on somebody telling you that you’re not good enough? If anything, the person that has time to say these things has worse problems. It doesn’t even matter what they think of you, as long as you have a strong sense of self and know it’s not true. Put it into perspective: When you’re 92, you’re not going to care about what “ Trollman72” had to say about your post on Insta. If this is holding you back, then let it go now so you can express yourself fully (within reason of course).
7. Chime In With Friends.
Lurking but not posting or commenting isn’t benefiting you. “People feel closer to their friends and better about themselves when they directly interact with others,” says Jessica Vitak, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Maryland’s iSchool. Think that puppy pic is cute? Comment on it, or better yet repost it.
8. Practice non-judgment.
We all know we need to do this, but do we actually do it? It can be helpful to remind yourself of the consequences of judging. When you think negatively about others, this makes you feel bad, not the other person. And never compare – I know, easier said than done (sometimes it’s even an automatic response), but you have to train yourself to keep your mind in check when you see somebody or something to judge. A handy tip I use is to remember that people are at different points in their life and have different focuses from myself and that comparing them to myself isn’t fair.
9. Realize that envy is a call for inspiration.
Simple. Instead of seeing others with envy, look at them as a person to be inspired by. If someone has achieved what you want to achieve, then instead of envy them, learn from them. And do what they did even better.
10. Be curious about the stories your mind makes up.
You can do this as an experiment: Scroll through your feed for five to ten minutes, with your full attention, and notice all the stories your mind makes up.
When something comes up, ask yourself if it’s helpful for you to believe that story. Is it helpful for you to think you’re not good enough? Is it helpful for you to judge that other person’s choices or life?
We have to acknowledge that this content is there and be not attached to it at the same time.
It’s important to be curious about the mind instead of judging it or getting frustrated by it. This is one of the most important things to know if you want to be a more mindful person on and offline.
Your frustration on top of your judgment only makes things worse. Think about why this is the reason: Maybe it’s because you lack something? Maybe you have to work on something that you’ve been putting off? Identify the root cause and use it to move forward.
By integrating mindfulness into your social media experience, you can decrease anxiety and stress, eliminate negativity, and live a happier and more fulfilling life.
11. Avoid the Hate Follow.
"Don’t follow people who make you feel bad or obsess, like exes or friends who brag nonstop,” says Whitbourne. “Ask yourself, Does this account inspire me?” says Adams. Then hide or block energy suckers — they won’t even notice.
12. Scroll at Set Times
Try not to pick up your phone at every moment of downtime. A person spending a specific amount of time on social media will likely feel more satisfied, says Dr. Primack: “Rechecking may derail you from your own goals, thoughts, and tasks.” Schedule a time to check feeds — say, for half an hour at lunch. If that still doesn’t work, then there are even apps such as Beeminder that take money away from your account each time you don’t fulfil a goal. That’s one way to motivate yourself!
And limit your phone usage before bed. A good rule of thumb I use is to put my phone away or on charge 30 minutes before bed. Plus, Sleep makes you happier!
13. Feeling Meh? Stay Offline.
You’re bored, a bit lonely, so you grab your phone — but flicking through Insta or Snap Stories only exacerbates FOMO feelings of inadequacy. “Social media presents highly curated versions of reality. Poring over idealized photos and achievements can lead to negative self comparisons, especially if you’re feel- ing vulnerable,” says Dr. Primack. Instead of posting to the crowd, reach out to someone specific.
If you don’t want to see a post from a certain person too, then Facebook has a block feature which allows you to block someone’s posts for a period of time. Goodbye, my ex’s posts.
Well, that’s my roundup of the best tips and tricks myself and my team use to have the most enjoyable time online. Did you use any of these tips? Let us know in the comments below!