Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Social Media Is Good for You if You Do This…

Here’s a common scenario. Imagine you are coming home from school, work, or for most people now, their work-at-home laptop, and you feel tired, sluggish, and all of the above in negative adjectives.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

You reach for your phone and swipe over to your favorite fun colorful social platform of your choice, which turns out to be YouTube in this scenario. You find an interesting video that’s only 7 minutes long, you sit down on your bed or couch. Then you click on the next video, and the next, until hours have passed, then days, then years, then decades, and BLOOP. You’re DEAD!

Okay, okay, it's not that extreme, however, you and I could easily waste our lives staring at things like “LEGO MODERN WARFARE film: IRAQ WAR part 5”.

Yeah, I’ve never seen that before.

The Romans could have only dreamed of the power of social media. They built colosseums to subdue their people into pleasure induced consent. Nothing has matched the power of social media when it comes to spraying out happy juice into our brains. Every successful platform now is designed to grab your attention and then sell it to advertisers looking for their next prey. Oh, did I mention, they do this with your personal information too?

I don’t want to dive too deep into the political and legislative aspect of social media, but I do want to explain how I and many others can essentially “tech-bend”, (insert Avatar the last Airbend reference here) to get the best results out of social media, without it actually running our lives.

Design a system that grabs your attention for your benefit, not the advertisers.

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Most effective systems of addiction today are designed around convenience. Take, for example, the grease spewing monster, McDonald's. They make it incredibly easy for you to wrap your arms around a large bag of fried tuber-tubes and floppy meat frisbees slapped in-between governmentally enriched carbohydrate bombs. You can order at the counter inside, in the drive-thru, through a delivery app, on their website, or by begging your local mom. There are so many options for ordering. Thus, convenience.

The same goes for social media, there’s plenty of addictive options for everyone’s grandma and 5 years old to choose from.

YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and most notorious Tick-Tock. The thing about social media that makes it much, much deadlier is that it's speedier in its convivence factor and it infiltrates our homes and lives.

At least McDonald's and drug dealers are down the street. Phones sit at our bedside.

Avoiding addictive behavior is difficult, but the easiest thing you can do is to remove yourself from its convenience. Maybe one night you could plug your phone in next to your left-over McDonalds in the kitchen instead of watching YouTube on your phone till 2 AM. Better yet, remove the apps that make you go into time-travel mode.

To stop screen-tanning your retinas sometimes the best option is to just not use your phone. When I wake up in the morning my instant reaction is to check my notifications. I think,” Did someone finally message me?” Nope, it's just another email asking me to buy pine scented soap.

The absolute worse way to relax is by using social media.

After a long day of work on a Friday, relaxing by browsing YouTube seems like a reward. There’s nothing wrong with spending an hour or two browsing the internet on a Friday evening. However, that can quickly turn into a feeling of inadequacy, loneliness, and general unhappiness on that weekend's Sunday evening after you consecutively binge-watched 10 hours worth of The Simpsons re-edits.

But, what’s the alternative, won’t I be bored then?

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The answer is yes, you will be bored.

At first.

The goal here is to quit the toxic use of social media. But, first, you have to be willing to be bored for a bit. Think of quitting social media like a hardcore drug addict quitting their stimulant of choice. It's HARD.

You will relapse, you will go back to your junkie ways for a time, but you have to keep trying.

Most addicts who are able to quit their addictive behaviors end up replacing their previous negative behavior with a positive one.

For example, you can replace negative behaviors and stimulate your mind by:

  • reading a book (an interesting one)
  • cooking a mouth-watering recipe
  • picking up that old hobby of yours
  • listening to an educational podcast
  • working out
  • meeting up with friends (its been so long)
  • going on a hike in the woods
  • spastically dancing by yourself in the dark with a sheet wrapped around your head while banging your knees with your fists as you scream

Doing any of these things to replace social media is like going from smoking nicotine-packed cigarettes to inhaling water vapor from a humidifier. The stimulation from watching a quick-paced YouTube video is nowhere near the same as reading a book. Except maybe for the last one.

Think of this as a challenge. Better yet, keep track of how long you can go without looking at your favorite app. As you head deeper into the challenge you will notice that your “attention-tastebuds” will change. The stimulation from an interesting book might be your first go-to. Cooking an appealing meal (no not macaroni and cheese) might not seem as bad after doing it for the 3rd time that week.

But now what?

What if after doing this challenge for awhile you don’t feel the need to look at social media first thing in the morning or when you need to relax?

This is when you can start using social media as a free tool for YOUR benefit and not the advertisers

Creator not Consumer

Did you know that about 10% of people create the content that the other 90% of users consume?

The reason that is, is because that 90% failed to take advantage of the opportunity to create content. This could be for a myriad of reasons:

  • they gave up
  • they don’t have control over how they consume
  • they create excuses

These people end up being a resource for advertisers. They are also a resource for people who have the self-discipline to create content.

What are your options?

With social media you can (CASE):

Create a movement

Advertise your business

Share ideas

Educate people

You can choose one or a combination of these. Get started and see how far you can go. Turn it into a game. This is how you stimulate yourself now, by creating content for others to consume.

The cycle continues.

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Maddox

Maddox

I skipped college, now I write for fun and not for grades.