It is a common sight wherever I go, and perhaps you would agree too. Orbs of bright light illuminating onto the faces of regular people going about their daily routines, whether it is walking to work, standing in line to get their morning coffee and bagel, or even right before the movie begins in the theater. Of course, I am one of these people with a mysterious illumination radiating off my face when I am not preoccupied with something more important to do. You may be wondering what I refer to when mentioning these orbs of bright light (signs of extraterrestrial life?)… but then again, you probably already know they are referring to cell phones (a majority probably being smartphones) that fit in the palms of our hands. Social media that fits in the palms of our hands, among some of the most popular hangouts include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, and LinkedIn. I dare not mention more (including online dating sites) as it will take up the entire post!
With the prevalence of smartphones and the accessibility of so many sites at the touch (or swipe) of our fingers, it seems impossible to get away from social media. Unfortunately, it is easily noticed that more engagement with our gadgets and social media leads to limited or no interaction face-to-face… Whatever will happen to good ol’ conversations like I had in the 90’s with my friends? I told them I liked something, instead of relying on clicking a thumbs-up icon to deliver a stamp of approval. I have heard stories where people can spend hours on end contributing to endless posts, likes, tweets, snapchatting, and forget about reality… what do you mean I have to pay my bills? My school work can be done later! What laundry? Those dishes in the sink can wait.
Personally, I have taken my smallest steps to distance myself from social media because reality is here to stay, and I need to avoid being warped from it. I believe I am suffering from social media burnout. Yes, this is an actual thing. Try entering these three words into Google and just goggle over the many articles on such a condition facing our generation of children, professionals, and students in 2016.
According to Dictionary.com, burn-out (listed with a hyphen) is defined as “fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity.” I am not surprised that social media can make us feel this way, but it is alarming how many people may be burned out and not know how to recover. It is too easy to get trapped into the online world to realize just what kind of toll it is taking on the body. Maybe you are sleeping way too late, your appetite is to the extreme, you are always moody because you don’t agree with the latest comment on your post, or you are physically ill because you are not exercising and living a healthy life.
If you fall into this boat, you are not alone. Consider three practical ways that you can apply to avoid or eliminate burnout in your life.
Separate Social Media from Reality
There should be a purpose or meaningful intent to everything you do… including hopping onto specific networking apps. It is also important to distinguish social media from reality, otherwise your drive to accomplish things will be blurred. Become more aware of your time dwelling online versus getting things done in your daily routines.
If you are a visual person, this technique may help you keep things in check.
Write two lists side by side:
For Social Media, answer questions like the following:
–> Why am I checking ___ right now?
–> What can I gain from using ___ today?
–> When will I check ___ today for updates?
For Reality, consider prompts like the following:
–> My top three goals today include ___, ___, and ___.
–> I will be productive today by ___.
–> At home, I need to take care of ___, ___, and ___.
It may seem silly, but filling out templates can make you actively aware of your surroundings, and thus have more control of what you should and shouldn’t do at a given time.
Turn off that phone!
Consider these questions: How often do you talk on the phone to someone, emergency or non-emergency related? How often do you text someone else?
Granted, texting is probably more likely than talking with someone on a daily basis.
The point here is this: We tend to use our phones nowadays more to access social media than we do for the intended function of a phone, which is to call and talk with someone else. If you realize that you are struggling to get important things done or you feel over stressed/fatigued by the use of social media, cut your access to them… at least for a few hours. If you remember how, turn off your phone. Focus on what you need to get done, get it done, then reward yourself by turning that phone back on and indulge within reason what you missed for a few hours. If you are within reach of a desktop PC either at home or work, do not sign in to your account.
This will help you develop self-control and confidence that yes, you can indeed stray away from the digital world and feel good about that freedom!
Limit access to two
How many of you find the thrill of networking apps to resemble a tube of Pringles? Once you pop, you can’t stop! I have been guilty of hopping onto at least four different apps in a matter of 5 minutes. Browsing through pictures, words, likes, tweets… it can function like a bedtime story as it really makes me fatigued. So many questions pop into my head about things I see online that sometimes I can’t control what I’m thinking! And there is no doubt how this can make my real-life tasks hazy.
When you feel the urge to check out social media, limit your access to TWO either within a few hours or a day. It could be Twitter and Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn… you get the idea.
If you force yourself to do this on a consistent basis, you will hopefully realize that there is power in self-control. Also, there will be something new each day for you to explore as social media apparently never sleeps.
I wish you luck on your journey to eliminate social media burnout from your life!