Rethinking my social media habits

For a little while now the idea has been growing that I need to rethink my social media habits. I did a life logging experiment a little while ago recording how I spend my time throughout each day (My week in numbers). I was a bit surprised how much time I spent on social media. Especially when I compared this to how little I slept!

rethinking social media

Missing the moment
A couple of things happened recently that made me start to question my use of social media. I was watching the Olympics diving on TV. I noticed as one of the divers was about to take off a guy in the audience looking at his phone. Because of where he was seated the same guy was in the background of a lot of the take off shots – he barely seemed to glance at the divers performances. It felt like he bought prime tickets to a sporting event and then missed it.

I went to see a musical recently (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Half way through the first act a little glow from the row in front caught my attention – it was the woman in front of me posting pictures from outside the theatre to Instagram.

I’m totally guilty of this type of behaviour as well. I can think of plenty of times when I’ve been posting/tweeting about an experience rather than being totally in the experience.

Did you see this picture that went viral on social media recently – I want to be this woman taking in the moment!

BROOKLINE, MA - SEPTEMBER 15: Crowd cheers as actors arrive at the premier of the movie Black Mass at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, Mass. Sept. 15, 2015. (Photo by John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Reach for your phone
I was on the train a couple of days ago with my kids. We were waiting in the station and a train on the platform next to ours pulled out. My boys waved at each carriage as it went past, trying to get someone to wave back to them. It was a really long train and there was lots of people on it. Not one person looked our way. Leo (age 3) asked me “Why is everybody on the train looking downwards?” I know the answer because I do it myself – as soon as I get on the train I get my phone out.

Divided attention
This really got me thinking what am I missing out on when my attention is on the screen and not the world around me. I’m always using my phone while watching TV, cooking dinner, eating my breakfast or (the worst) while I’m talking to people. It means that I’m only half paying attention to what I’m doing. I catch myself having to rewind my favourite TV shows because I’ve missed half the programme.

I’ve also noticed that I reach for my phone more frequently when I’m feeling stressed.  It is a quick way of distracting myself and having a little escape when things get a bit chaotic.

Everybody does it, don’t they?
I’m sure my habits are not uncommon. A recent Ofcom survey (polling over 2000 adults and 500 teenagers) found that the typical adult spends 25 hours per week on the internet. The same survey reported that 40% of people felt that they were being regularly ignored by a friend or relative because they were too engrossed in their smart phone.

Time for a detox?
I did consider having a social media detox. Stopping using any social media for a month. I didn’t use any social media when I went camping for 4 days recently (although this was more to do with the crap WiFi than a conscious effort to tune out). But I’ve decided a social media detox too much like a crash diet. I’d happily go on an internet binge straight afterwards and wouldn’t alter my habits long term.

What I’m trying to figure out instead is how to get my social media use in a balance. I love a funny tweet and status update as much as anyone. I love how interactive Facebook and Twitter can be and how pretty my Instagram feed is. I just want to make sure it is not taking priority over other parts of my life.

Enough already!
As a start I’ve decided to turn down the volume on my social media feeds. I’ve switched off all of the notifications that appear on my phone screen. As soon as I get a notification I want to check it so it feels like these alerts are constantly interrupting me.

I’ve had a little cull of the Facebook groups that I belong to and the pages that I follow (don’t worry I still follow your blogs!). Out went the selling sites for second hand camping equipment and posts from super expensive brands that I have liked to enter a competition.

Social media ground rules
I’m also working on establishing some social media ground rules for myself. So far I’m thinking of:

• No checking social media when I’m in bed (I’m always sneaking a look at my phone when I go to bed or when I wake up). Time to move my phone from under my pillow – I guess I’ll just need to buy an alarm clock.

• I’m going to try really hard not to be scrolling through my news feed when people are talking to me – especially my kids and my husband. I think they will appreciate having my full attention, who wants to compete with a funny cat video!

• I’m going to try out putting my phone in another room when I don’t want to be distracted. Literally putting temptation out of reach. I’m going to do this during my favourite TV show or when I’m working on my blog.

• I think I also need to find some alternative ways to deal with stress and boredom – this is a bit of a vague idea at the moment. I can’t quite think of any concrete actions that will help just yet.

I think these ideas are a step in the right direction. Look I’ve written this whole post without checking Facebook once! Now if you will excuse me I’m off to watch funny cat videos!

Do you have any good tricks for enjoying social media in moderation? Or do you think an internet detox is the way to go?

10 thoughts on “Rethinking my social media habits

  1. I think you’re right, a social media detox would be just like a crash diet. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think putting your phone in a different room is a good idea (and not having Facebook open in another tab like I do now!). Let me know how you get on, I could definitely do with some tips on reducing my dependence on social media. Maybe I shouldn’t replace my smartphone that’s just broken… not sure I’m brave enough for that though!

  2. This is a really thoughtful post and one I think I need to think about as I’m a terror for this. Goodness knows being a blogger how many hours I spend on the internet but I suspect it’s more than 25 hours! Maybe I need to have a rethink too x

  3. I am completely guilty of spending too much time on social media and i think most people are. I try my hardest to always put my phone down when the girls are talking to me now as i hate the thought that they think they are being ignored.

  4. Oh I am so concious of being on my my phone all the time, especially when I am with Rosalie. I try to take regular breaks and to leave my phone out of the way somewhere. It’s so hard though! X

  5. I’m so guilty of spending too much time on social media instead of being productive. It’s so easy to get distracted, isn’t it? I love some of your pointers and will definitely try to ignore my phone in the morning. I always feel like I’m starting the day much more organised if I’m not on social media or some stupid little game first thing in the morning…

  6. Due to work hours me and hubby don’t get our evenings together. I do try not to pick my phone up on the 3 evenings we do get together, although I find it hard! How bad is that!? How about a colouring in book for adults to help with stress/boredom instead?

  7. I have a few things that really work for me – if I’m out to lunch with a friend, or visiting family, I leave my phone in the car. It strikes me as incredibly rude to be invited to spend time with someone, then not give them your undivided attention. And once I’m home, I have a spot in the kitchen where I charge my phone, which means I don’t tend to look at it while I’m at home in the evening – so I can relax and devote my attention to family. The rest of the time, though, I’m a terrible phone-glancer – there’s nothing better when you’re waiting outside school in the car!

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