A Mindful Approach to Social Media

A rule for when to check social media to change your entire relationship with it

Illustration of two phones, one happy and one anxious

I’ve soured on social media in recent years. It’s evolved into a way to communicate and consume that is centered around continually checking what has been recently posted. It’s a way to escape boredom. It’s a rabbit hole. But what does one truly gain from continually checking social media?

It has its ups, for sure, but I’d reckon that the way most people use it is harmful to their mental health and happiness. The problem lies in checking social media compulsively instead of intentionally.

I’ve been experimenting with an approach to social media for the last year that has worked well:

Only check social media when you have something to post.

It assumes you aren’t posting more than once per day. I only post a few times a week, at most. Usually to share some drawings, comics, writing, or an odd thought here or there.

A part of that approach that isn’t explicit but is important is that I don’t use social media to complain or condemn. That’s just not what I want to share with the world. I want to share my creative projects and little bits about myself. I don’t see the value in posting every negative passing thought and adding to the noise in that way.

If you want to take this to the next level, give these ideas a try:

  • Turn off all push notifications for social media on your phone. Your time is more valuable than being distracted by hearts, favs, replies, etc. Take back control of your attention.
  • Or… Delete the apps from your phone and use the web versions, even on your phone. For services that only allow you to post from the app, move those apps off of your home screen and into a folder. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Unfollow people whose posts upset you when you do check social media after posting. It’s okay to unfollow someone even if they’re your friend. You don’t need to log on to share something and have your whole day sideswiped by someone else’s post.

What happens when you stop compulsively checking social media is that you care a lot less about what you’re missing. You instead post what you came to post, catch up on the good stuff if you feel like it, and then close it. That’s it. The truth is that you aren’t missing anything.

Illustration of a person checking phone and seeing a tweet telling them they check it too often

Don’t worry about hearts or likes or comments after you post. You can always respond the next time you check social media.

This approach changed my relationship with social media drastically. It became less about keeping up with everything and more about creating and sharing. I no longer escape to Twitter or Instagram when I’ve got a spare few minutes. Instead, that’s my time for me to let my mind wander. Consuming and processing dozens of ideas and thoughts and feelings and pictures within a brief period of time is overwhelming.

I don’t think social media needs to go away entirely, but that’d be an interesting future experiment. It’s about using it with more of a purpose instead of just escaping boredom. Embrace boredom and make that time sacred. Make that your time.

Author: Brett Chalupa

day: software developer, night: comic artist

2 thoughts on “A Mindful Approach to Social Media”

  1. It’s funny how quickly social media took over. I didn’t have a cell phone til college. Myspace/Facebook didn’t exist til I was partway through college. And I’m not *that* old, lol. And now it’s hard to imagine life without it. My husband doesn’t even engage with social media, but he does tend to check the news quite a lot on his phone, and it often makes him grumpy. It takes discipline to stay away. I need to pull my bootstraps up and get better at that.

    1. The news falls into a similar place for me too. I want to know what’s going on in the world, but I don’t have any control over any of it. So then the news has control over me and how I feel, which leads to compulsively checking it to see what the latest is. It always ends with me being upset or frustrated. It’s definitely a challenge to not fall down the news and social media rabbit holes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s