During a year where I felt like I had no control of anything, recognizing and claiming control over my social media usage helped me feel some sort of stability. It is so easy to depend on my phone as a way to validate, distract, and to fill the void when real life isn’t doing it. I’m still improving, but having a concrete task makes it a lot simpler than just “use my phone less”. Here are some of the things I or people I know have changed about our habits as New Year’s resolution ideas. They’re unconventional, but perfect for anyone who says they hate social media but isn’t sure what to do about it.
1. Curate your Instagram following.
If someone doesn’t bring value to your life, why would you want to see a constantly updated highlight reel of theirs? Obviously, I’m not saying to unfollow everyone - but unfollow people who are mean, people who post things that piss you off, and people whose content you just don’t want to see. Mute those you dislike but feel like you can’t unfollow for whatever reason. And while you’re at it, follow accounts that are positive - whether that means they educate you, motivate you, or just make you happy. I’ll be writing a blog dedicated to which accounts these are for me in the future, but if you spend a lot of time on Instagram anyway, a few searches for what you’re looking for go a long way. Besides ads, what we see on our home page should be what we want to see - that’s the whole point of following people.
2. Stop stalking Instagram profiles.
No clicking on someone tagged in a photo, no searching up people to stalk, no checking to see if your ex posted something new. I’ve found that being mindful about breaking the habit of lurking has made me less judgmental, less comparative, and less likely to get my feelings hurt. It is also the foolproof way to prevent yourself from wasting a half hour on, like, your high school friend’s roommate’s brother’s girlfriend’s profile for no reason.
3. Stop Snapchatting people you don’t particularly like.
If you’re into streaks and Snapchatting lots of people, consider why you snap the people that you do. Do you Snapchat because you enjoy talking to people or because you feel compelled to? Is it a void filler? Asking yourself these questions makes it easier to filter out the people you keep around as opposed to those you actually want to talk to. Snapchat is also a great place to hang onto small bits of attention from people who don’t give you anything else - recognize when you’re settling for a 3-second photo when you actually want to talk. Let’s leave those conversations that are just pictures of each other’s walls and foreheads in 2020!
4. Don’t use Tinder when you’re insecure.
Using Tinder when you’re bored? Fine. But using Tinder when you’re sad/insecure to distract yourself? Unhealthy way to temporarily fill the void. If you find yourself dependent on whether hot people swipe on you, this is a perfect goal to make. Before you check the app, especially if it’s late at night, do a little check-in. Are you bored/horny or are you looking for a quick rush of validation and attention?
5. Unfollow celebrities and influencers who you compare yourself to.
It’s a level below curating your Instagram feed but can do wonders for someone who gets insecure whenever they see the Insta-models they follow. Break the cycle - unfollow them if you can’t help yourself. This one’s a more complicated issue of beauty standards, internalized misogyny, etc. but there is literally 0 harm in unfollowing famous people you constantly compare yourself to.
6. Delete your social media apps for a week.
This is the biggest and also probably the most difficult. Not only does it put into perspective how much time you spend scrolling and swiping, it also reminds you of who you actually talk to - that is, who checks in on you (and vice versa) and who you wonder about when you’re not constantly reminded of them virtually. Earlier this semester, my “social media cleanse” lasted a week, which I found to be the perfect time. It helped take off a lot of unnecessary pressure and focus on what is actually important. And maybe the fact that you haven’t stopped reading this yet is a sign that you should get off your socials for a bit…but if full-on deleting seems too daunting, the next goal is an easier way to cut down.
7. Manage your screen time - with goals.
If you have an iPhone, go to your settings and adjust your “App Limits” to restrict yourself from using certain apps at certain times. It’s simple and a lot easier to track than just saying you want to go on your phone less. Make realistic goal times, though, or else it sort of haunts you like a morning alarm where you press snooze over and over.
These goals have worked for me and/or others I’ve spoken to about this, but different things work for different people. I’ve found what’s most important is recognizing my unhealthy behaviors and holding myself accountable to stop them. Let me know if you plan on dedicating yourself to one or more of these resolutions in the “Dump Your Baggage” box below! Happy New Year!