Social media through a positive lens

Do you also really love sharing memes? Have you found it easy to virtually communicate with family and friends recently? Why do we enjoy posting pics of us travelling?

How often do we focus on the benefits that we derive from social media? Okay maybe a few of you addicts have those ready for argument’s sake, but I mean it from a place of inspiration, guidance and service.

I’ve been asked to write an alternative view to my older post about social media. I’ll discuss how we’re able to stay connected, being a source of inspiration, finding motivation, using creative outlets, learning to surf the web and understanding two sides of a story.

Let’s dive into some healthy perspectives and learn how to face the digital tsunami we’re inevitably experiencing.

Staying connected

The lock down has shown us what a monumental resource technology has been, especially connecting through social media. We’re able to stay in touch with our friends and family from all over the world, doing so now more than ever before.

Video calling friends and family can be incredibly healing, especially when you can’t travel to see them. I think we have a lot to be grateful for, especially the fact that we’re not dealing with the 1918 pandemic. Imagine if the only way to communicate with the rest of the world was through pigeons?

Shutterstock

I do hope that your communication extends further than liking and commenting on posts, as that isn’t really ‘connecting’.

Being a source of inspiration

We have an incredible ability to influence people on social media. Why not utilize this to help other people? If you ever feel like you’d want to serve a cause greater than yourself, it’s now easier than ever before to do just that.

Social media enables us to post about aspects of our lives that could benefit other people. Sharing your exercise regime, your daily habits, the recipes for your Insta-worthy food, your studying routine, your poetry, your philosophy, how you deal with your mental health and so much more, can all greatly encourage people.

There are various ways for us to make the most of our time spent on social media, we just have to be conscious of the energy and content we upload / expose ourselves to.

So long as we’re intentional about why we do what we do, we can all contribute positively.

Creative outlet

As mentioned above regarding sources of inspiration, social media can be used as a creative outlet. It allows people to make a living off sharing their art and what truly matters to them. Remember that art isn’t restricted to a specific genre like drawing. It’s about finding a way to express yourself and allowing people to connect with you in a unique way.

This has also enabled us to work from home and keep going with ‘business as usual’. Being in lock-down has been an incredible source of creativity for many people, as we’ve finally made time to focus more on what matters.

It has also enabled people to start thinking genuinely about what they want to achieve in their life. We’re not limited to 9-5 jobs in an office desk anymore. We have the world at our very fingertips.

Finding motivation

When things get overwhelming and difficult, we can search for ways to stay motivated. There are so many people who upload content specifically to encourage people, to keep them going, to help them stay on track. If you’re ever feeling a little overwhelmed, learn about how others deal with that same feeling.

Sharing our stories and accomplishments can allow us to be a source of motivation to others. When you see other people overcoming hurdles, it empowers you to keep trying. When you see that you’re not alone in this, it helps you feel related to.

This all depends on how well you’re able to work the algorithms and keep your feed in check. We need to learn about exposing ourselves to relevant content.

Learning how to surf the internet

For us to adequately deal with waves of change, we need to learn how to surf. The internet is just a bunch of web-pages that represent gnarly waves. We have to make sure we tread the waters carefully, by studying and actively seeking ways to understand it.

Here’s a great YouTube series to help you with that:

There’s a lot of chaos and misinformation amongst the memes and selfies. We need to become aware of how fake news also tends to go viral; spreading corruption in a different form.

We need to find a balance. The very same resources that we use to empower ourselves, can be used against us. The quality of our relationships, our attention span, the subconscious and even childhood development are all being heavily influenced by the presence of social media and technology.

Two sides of a story

How often have you found yourself defending a story after hearing only 1 side of it? You trust that person or source, therefore, believe them entirely without doing your own research.

We need to understand that social media, like all media platforms, feed off engagement. When people post offensive or contradictory statements, it gains traction and starts trending. We all hop on the bandwagon and join in, further fueling engagement.

So my point here is that we’re barely able to hear two sides of a story IRL, imagine how much tougher it is on social media? We just need to be intentional and a little more conscious of how we’re allowing the technology to seep into every aspect of our lives.

A wise man once said: “Stay woke.”

Regardless of what your stance is, you need to become adept at navigating digital information.

We can find resources to stay motivated and use ourselves to inspire others. We can unleash our creativity in incredible ways and share it with the world around us. There’s so much that we have to be thankful for, especially how we’re able to stay connected using social media.

It’s just as important to stay aware of the influence social media has on us. We need to put in a little effort to understand the navigation, so that we don’t drown in information. There’s much more to it than the click-bait or headline.

I’d like to thank you for your time and support, it always means a great deal to me. We’re all in this together, so we should always share whatever beneficial knowledge we have. I’m going to end this by repeating the quote I used in my previous post on social media.

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”

Erik Qualman

Social media

Do you also feel like we’re all turning into cyber-zombies? Does it seem like everyone spends more time on their phones than with the people around them? Why do we find so much comfort in our devices?

This is one of the most important topics that I want to discuss, especially entering a new decade. How social media is absorbing us all, causing some form of digital dementia. You’ve heard the famous saying: We’re more connected than ever before, yet we all feel lonelier than ever before.

So what is it about social media that grabs our attention? And what can we do in light of this hyper-normalization?

I’m going to start by talking about my own experiences, the psychology behind social media and how to move forward.

My experiences

I spent 2018 on a social media sabbatical: deleting Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat & Facebook. I returned in 2019, with a lot more awareness and discipline.

It’s often really hard to imagine giving social media up. Our first defensive instinct: It’s how I stay in touch with my friends/family! Can you imagine your life without all the cyber distractions?

You’d have way more free time than you’d be willing to believe. Not only that, you’ll be left with your thoughts for several moments at a time; how daunting. This is not me trying to convince you to get rid of all your social media, but just to share the lessons I’ve learnt on how we can use it more effectively.

The reason I decided to leave social media for a year was because of my break-up. In December 2017, I went through a very turbulent emotional phase. I was trying to deal with ‘heartbreak’.

I realized that what made it so difficult for me to get over my ex, was how easy it was to see her online presence. It left me in a strange mode. Constantly stalking, comparing, judging and feeling unworthy.

When I first got off social media, it felt alien. I had no idea what to do. No more worrying about my feed, posting on my story, tweeting random thoughts or taking unnecessary selfies on snap chat.

A few days in, I realized how much free time I had. This tempted me to re-download some of the apps out of boredom. Luckily, I came across this insightful quote that helped me: “Habits cannot be erased, they can only be replaced.” Understanding that led me to start reading & meditating.

A week into the sabbatical, I realized that my attention span started rapidly improving. My brain was getting out of the “swipe swipe swipe, like, comment, swipe swipe swipe” thought process. I began focusing a lot better.

One of the most important aspects that changed: My relationships started to flourish. I started being more present with people I cared about and spent time with. I spent less time showing off snippets of my life to impress people I barely know.

That fundamentally changed the wiring in my brain, because I was becoming less dependent on the dopamine rush from getting likes and comments. “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”

A massive illusion of social media is that you’re staying in touch with people. But liking, commenting and occasionally reacting to a story is not staying in touch.

It’s an artificial connection. We keep faking the same idea to ourselves until we’re convinced it’s the only way to live. But it’s not.

The psychology behind it

To ease the tension a little bit, I want you to understand a fundamental aspect of social media; the current intention behind its creation. It’s designed by scientists/psychologists/programmers who have dedicated their lives to ensure you spend as much time on the app as possible. Why?

Your attention (or time) = profit.

If you pay attention to the amount of data that’s being sold from all your searches, likes, swipes and posts, you’d be rather frightened. I’m saying this because you need to understand that your addiction is not entirely your fault.

It was created to be as absorbing and as charming as possible. Much like this world in the eye of a believer. Temporary, deceptive and full of temptations.

When you understand the way ads affect your subconscious and the way it’s abusing your mental power, you’d be more inclined to make better decisions. Remember: Better awareness -> Better choices -> Better results.

How do we move forward? 

Learn more and stay conscious of the time you spend online. We’re entering an age where it’s more comfortable to stare at your screen when you’re bored than stare out of the window. (The latter provides the mind with impeccable subconscious insight).

We feel awkward, almost alien, when we’re waiting and not constantly checking our phones. Use the time limits on the apps and respect them. Encourage those around you to minimize their social media usage and try to have technology-free gatherings.

This will contribute to your mental health and hopefully improve the loneliness epidemic that we’re currently experiencing. You don’t necessarily realize it, but you’re always comparing yourself to other people online.

Whether you choose to accept that or not is up to you, your unconscious does 95% of the work for you anyway.

I know some of this may have been a little intense and that I could’ve covered a lot more ground. But this is as brief as I could make it.

I’m not trying to force anyone to change or to get you all to abandon social media and start living in a forest (although I wish I was). But for the sake of your happiness and mental clarity, spend a little more time being present with your weird thoughts and feelings, instead of scrolling aimlessly.

Let’s try to be a little less zombie-like, a little more present, and a lot more loving. Stop worrying about taking a picture of every moment, and start living in it.

Nothing contributes to a healthy relationship as much as active listening and honest communication. That just isn’t as effective when your phone is in your hand.

We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we do it.

Erik Qualman

(A little ironic how I took pics to post on my blog, then talking about living in the moment haha).