Scroll no more

Elevate your social media habits from damaging to manageable

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

While having a conversation with a friend about social media usage, she told me she planned to take some time away from Facebook because she felt it would improve her constant fatigue.

It didn’t quite make sense to me. She wasn’t an avid poster, or commenter for that matter. From what I could see, her Facebook presence remained largely limited to “liking” posts. How could that be exhausting?

She explained to me that every social media interaction — even scrolling, reading and watching videos — is an “exchange of energy,” and in the time since our conversation, I’ve found her words to be true.

Social media is an incredible and entertaining tool, but as the past decade has proved, it also tends to bring out the most reactionary and vitriolic side of the human race. By making my social media work for me, I think I’ve achieved a fairly healthy relationship with the ever-beckoning screen in my hand. Here are some strategies I used to make social media manageable:

1. Delete apps. This is not the same as deleting accounts — you can keep your Facebook profile, but would your phone be a little bit less districting if “Your mom commented on your aunt’s post” didn’t randomly pop up on your home screen every 10 minutes? We all know that a single notification, while seemingly innocent, is just the gateway to a solid half hour of scrolling for no reason. Turning off notifications in the “Settings” section of your smartphone is another option, but I find myself opening the app regardless, so it’s best to just delete heavily used apps and instead access those platforms on my laptop two or three times a day. You probably aren’t missing anything, even if you feel like you are for the first week without apps. That feeling fades.

2. Join groups. One way to break up the doom and gloom of political posts, dumb memes and endless photos of friends’ kids is to join specialized groups related to your special interests. I recently joined a group for people who want to learn more about tending fruit trees and a group for cattle dog owners. There are also fan groups for TV series, podcasts and video games. Many of my friends are part of cooking groups, where people share recipes. This method also works for Twitter and Instagram: follow people who are interested in the same things you are by searching for hashtags (i.e. #HomeGardening, #CattleDog) and the fun parts of life will make more appearances on your feeds.

3. Unfollow people. Let’s be honest — we keep people in our lives because they are our friends outside of the screen, but on social media, they are a bit much. Whether it’s politics, constant negativity or just overly frequent posting, it’s OK to use Facebook’s discreet “Unfollow” tool to take a break. Your friend won’t be notified and your sanity will be better for it.

4. “Favorite” important pages. Like many people, I have to use Facebook for my job. Part of being a journalist is being plugged into the community, and as more and more government agencies take to social media to share news releases, mindless scrolling is often a necessary evil. However, Facebook’s “Favorites” tool changed my life. Simply go to the page or profile you need to keep tabs on, click on the ellipsis button, select “Follow Settings” and then “Favorites.” Any posts from that page will now appear first in your newsfeed. Farewell scrolling, hello social media that serves my needs and my mental health.

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