Almost two months ago, I gave up Instagram as a measure of life spring cleaning. Throughout the desolate winter, the visual, social sharing platform invaded my consciousness in a way with which I was hardly comfortable. Something in my brain prompted eyes and thumbs to "check" it often, as if I was manically waiting for something, ANYTHING to deliver me from five seconds of not having any visual stimulation to entice my cerebral cortex.
At the beginning of March, off of my iPhone Instagram went - taking with it old habits and patterns of thought.
For many, social media started as a method for people to communicate regardless of spatial boundaries but then transformed into an assembly line of meaningless fragments of information to be chomped through. Picture a Pacman chasing an endless row of dots with no pixelated cluster of cherries in sight. We rarely use social media to benefit our relationships with others. We use social media to entertain ourselves.
I promised in an earlier post to publicize my new plan in terms of dealing with Instagram now that my month of "without" was up. I wasn't ready to cut it out of my life completely, as Instagram does provide glimpses into the lives of people I love, yet situationally do not communicate with as often as I'd like to.
So here's what I came up with, in the broader scope of social media as a whole.
Social media should be used for three activities, all conveniently starting with C:
- Connecting with others
- Cataloguing memories
- Curating knowledge
That’s it! According to this new philosophy, if you're using social media as boredom buster, an ego booster or an open counseling session, you’re wrong. Social media - used for an other purpose than those listed above - is an abuse of it as a tool.
Now, here’s how I'm planning to change my social media habits to fit this model:
- Using it to connect with old friends or people with whom I’ve fallen out of touch. Visiting an old acquaintance's Facebook profile with no intention of beginning a conversation is the antithesis of connecting.
- Using it as a digital scrapbook. This hardly means posting heavily doctored photos of every waking hour, but if I find yourself wrapped in a moment I’d like to remember, I'm going to snap a picture and post it! Timehop is my favorite app for this reason.
- Using it to curate interesting information and new ideas. Many great thinkers and thought leaders use social media as a sounding board, giving the public access to their daily mental goings-on. If someone is not a friend or someone I admire, I'm hitting "unfollow."
Now, the hard part. With the connect/catalogue/curate mindset, likes, retweets and favorites cease to be meaningful. If a person, moment or idea is meaningful enough to publicize, this should mean it’s meaningful REGARDLESS of how much attention it receives from others.
I now only look at Instagram about 3 times a week, whereas I used to check it an upwards of 5 times a day. Now, in the moments where I used to dig my phone out of a pocket and scroll and scroll and scroll, I'll pull out the book I'm working on, try to look around at my surroundings or simply just put my mind on something else.
Palpable life feels more vibrant now that digital life is corralled and organized into three categories.
How do you manage your social media habits?