However with social media at our finger (or flipper) tips, it's easy to get carried away, almost to the point of addiction, with the stories of destruction and chaos happening all over. We all seem to have this same compulsion to know everything, as soon as it happens. Then, we feel it's our duty to share that news with our friends and followers. Pretty soon, everybody everywhere has all the latest details of whatever the current disaster is.
Did you know that as of 2016, 78% of the US population had some kind of a social media profile? It is estimated that now, in 2017, there are 2.46 billion social media users worldwide. And by 2020, the figure is estimated to rise to 2.95 billion humans...all connecting on one form of social media or another. (And don't even get me started on the frogs using social media....)
So who's on social media doing all those tweets and posts? Here's the breakdown; 68% of women and 62% of men. It's no surprise that 18-29 year-old's make up the largest share with 90% of them on social media. 77% of people ages 30-49 use it, along with 51% of those ages 50-64. And, believe it or not, 35% of humans aged 65 and above have some kind of presence on social media, as well.
Research from the University of Indiana shows that those people who have the most social media connections are actually happier. So you don't actually have to unplug to have a calmer life. That's good news. But there some steps you can take to make your life, and time spent on social media, more manageable. 1. Choose two times a day to check your social media accounts and email. Don't check it every time you have a spare minute. That will make you crazy, along with everyone else around you. 2. Unplug completely at least one day a week. Turn off all the electronic gadgets and simply choose not to check what's happening on your social media accounts. 3. Follow accounts and people that interest and inspire you; not the ones that post negativity or things that bring you down. 4. Keeping up with multiple platforms can be time-consuming and exhausting, so limit yourself to two...three tops.
Moods are contagious, even online. Research has shown that digital social networks influence the spread of both positive and negative emotions. There's enough bad news out there already. Do we really want to add more? It's OK to unfollow and unfriend (or just hide) those connections that bring you down. (Like that old chum from high school that never stops complaining.) Enough with the Negative Nellie, already! Sometimes it simply TMI (Too Much Information).
And did you know that your posts can reveal a great deal about your health habits? They do. Everything from the post about forgetting to take you medication to the (overly) salty treats you consumed while watching TV last night. That info is helpful to researchers in tracking widespread health habits. Those humans who are in a high-risk population, were more likely to get tested for HIV when they belonged to a social media group that encouraged testing and also had access to behavioral psychology that steered them in that direction. Even small interactions make us feel better because we get a sense of belonging. And that's good for our health, as well. I know I always get the warm-fuzzies whenever I get a nice message from my Twitter and Facebook friends. For many who are isolated, these digital social interactions are the closest thing they get to positive human (or frog) connections. It's not surprising, then, that social media posts are generally in keeping with the poster's genuine personality traits. Introverts betray shyness and extroverts seem outgoing.
Do you love social media? I do. I love how small it makes the world seem. I have friends all over the globe and social media makes it feel like they live next door. A recent preliminary study shows that the tendency to gravitate towards social media may be more nature than nurture. I found that fact pretty darn interesting.
So how do we post, tweet, and still manage to remain happy? Here's what the experts say to do.
A. Accentuate the positive. Use your feed to savor special moments from a vacation or family get-together, not to compare yourself to others or to make others feel bad. Post uplifting quotes, funny jokes, even adorable cat pictures...just stay away from negative or hurtful posts.
B. Schedule breaks from social media. Everybody needs a day off. It's alright if you don't post for a day or a week. Everyone will still be there when you get back. And if they're not, that just means they weren't "real" anyway. taking a break has shown to improve well-being.
C. Be yourself. Present your authentic self...not some perfect idealized version. Having others accept you for who you are boosts mental health.
D. Come back to reality. Be careful not to assess your relationship with someone based on whether they follow you or like your posts/tweets. Social media means something different for everyone and their motivation for using it can vary greatly. If the people are friends in real life, it's better to take your cues from those interactions, rather than the ones online.
Finally, here are a few statistics on managing electronic overload.
65% of those humans surveyed feel that taking a "digital detox" would be good for their health. The question is, will they do it? 28% of the survey participants said they don't allow cell phones at the dinner table as a way to cur down screen time as well as add to better family bonding time. 28% said they actually take a break from electronics when they're on vacation or a get-away weekend. And only 19% of the people surveyed said they turn off media notifications in an effort to manage technology use.
Social media can be wonderful and uplifting. Or it can be dark, dangerous, and depressing. The choice is up to each of us. I have chosen to post only things that I feel are helpful, hopeful, insightful, or funny. My only goal here is to improve your life anyway I can. And in doing that, dear reader, I improve my own ten times over.