Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused
How much time do you spend on social media each day? Minutes, hours? Do you even bother counting?
Your smartphone is within reach, even when you're in the bathroom or with your family.
Your eyes monitor the screen; your hands keep itching till you grab the gadget and dive into a sticky web. Soon, it engulfs you like a snake that swallows its prey — whole.
This tiny digital beast has become a part of you, an extension of your arm and brain. It's like you're another person when you're on the phone, an avatar you created from the energy stored deep inside, away from the real world. You are less shy and bolder in expressing yourself. You look younger and prettier, and you are brilliant — the technology gives you time to collect yourself, do research, and think before you reply.
You can't imagine your life without it anymore.
But how does this obsession impact your real life?
Let's have a look.
I Want It Yesterday
In my younger days, we still wrote letters to each other. It could take weeks to be delivered, but that was okay. We could wait, anticipating the excitement and pleasure of opening the mailbox and finding an envelope that traveled across the world — admiring the stamps, imagining its adventure.
Letters are so different from messages, with their shortenings and abbreviations. And even though I like emojis, expressing your feelings and thoughts with words is a much more sophisticated way of sharing, don't you agree?
The internet changed the game, and we grow impatient.
Although I’m not a huge fan of technology that keeps people online, I feel slightly annoyed when my son doesn't reply to my messages right away. I have to remind myself that it’s healthy not to be plugged into the web 24/7. Because when you are, you are disconnected from the real world. Just look at those spaced-out faces of people in public places, and you’ll know what I mean!
And social media is the worst time-thief I know out there.
But that is not all it is.
Reasons to Stay Vigilant on Social Media
The world of social media is not all that rosy and cute, especially if you are young and/or engaged in politics. And according to Swedish research, most people using social media are, which makes them vulnerable and a likely target for bullying and even threats.
So yes, there are all kinds of people in the virtual world, good and not so good. Hiding behind the screen can be a perpetrator, a sociopath, or a person with low internal moral guidance and undesirable intentions.
Social media has a dark side. It:
- Can be a highly addicting time thief.
- Prevents people from having a real social life.
- Opens the gates for toxic comments and bullying.
- Lures you into the trap of comparing yourself with Instagram divas and other polished images of "perfect" people online.
- Can propagate misguided ideals and false "values."
- Tempts you to overspend on products and services due to smart but aggressive advertising.
- Pushes specific political ideas.
The result of all this? Psychological trauma, depression, and anxiety. And the worst-case scenario — suicide.
Therefore, building and protecting your boundaries on social media is crucial for your mental health, relationships, family life, and productivity.
Build Strong Boundaries on Social Media
Here are some suggestions that will help you to build strong social media boundaries, in no particular order.
Simply identify your problem area and find a solution to it by adopting the rules that work best for you.
Clean up your lists of friends and followers.
Delete all the contacts for people you don't even know and never communicate with in real life or online. Remove contacts whose posts you find boring or irritating, and those who post too often, as well. Feel free to remove the accounts you don't trust. Don't stop until your list shows no sign of blotting from irrelevant "friends." It's not about the quantity but the quality of your connections — remember that.
Don't accept any invitation to become friends automatically.
You have the right to choose, so give yourself permission to say no. Don't be shy — accepting or rejecting requests is totally up to you.
Whenever someone wants to befriend me on Facebook, I follow a simple procedure. First, I determine if I know the person or if they are a friend of a friend. Then I check out the person's private account (it will tell you a lot), then the content, and decide if it will benefit my happiness or professional development to accept their request. And if it won’t, sorry, but NO.
Schedule your networking on social media.
It would help to know your purpose for using social media. Is it about social engagement, business, or both? Determining your purpose for being online can help you decide how to use social media and what connections you need. If you’re using it for both, have two separate lists. (Clean up your business list, too.)
Weed through the pages you follow and your Facebook groups.
How many groups have you joined? I thought so. When I looked at my list, I was surprised, to say the least — I counted 27! And how many have I visited regularly? Yep, just a few. So, leave all the groups you are not engaged with and free your newsfeed from the information you no longer are interested in.
Do not engage with insulting comments.
Stay away from aggressive posts and comments; just ignore them. Delete or blacklist accounts with violent, nasty content — you don't want more negativity in your life.
Limit the time you spend on social media.
Placing limits on your social media use is crucial, so turn off notifications for your social media accounts permanently. Save your time and energy for what's important in life — your health, family, and real people. Not to mention your work.
Schedule your sessions for using social media.
This way, you can check your accounts once or twice a day according to your schedule. If you use them both for private and business networking, have separate schedules for checking your accounts, reading and replying to messages, and posting — and stick to them.
Set up screen limits and downtime to avoid mindless scrolling.
Setting an automatic screen-time limit is easy. For example, on iPhone: Settings > Screen Time > "Down Time" and "App Limits".
Are you using another smartphone? Let me know the procedure, and I will share it here, too.
Mute your phone when you spend time with your family.
Even better, put it away. Not using the gadget in the evening will set an excellent example for your kids and bring you closer as a family. You might even improve your sleep! Read a book instead — remember those paper ones? I'm sure you still have some on your shelf, waiting to be read. And if not, find ideas on Amazon or sign up for the Goodreads.com website and get fresh ideas every week.
Turn Sundays into social-media-free days.
Let your mind and eyes rest, and do things you love to do for yourself — hobbies, walks in nature, take a bath, or whatever else makes you feel great and joyful. Go for it!
When communicating with strangers online, take it slow.
You find this person interesting — I get it. Still, take your time before revealing too much about yourself. Don't rush into disclosure, giving someone an advantage. According to Dana Gionta, Ph.D., it takes between six and nine months to get to know someone's character. Even if it feels like you know this person well already, the internet can give this illusion. Remind yourself that what you see is a façade we people put on to make a good first impression. Find out who's the real person behind this beautiful front door. Look for possible inconsistencies and other red flags.
Take advantage of your commute.
Use this time to read your messages and emails. Listen to a podcast. Unless you are the driver, type your responses, and get it done with for the day.
Don't take your phone into bed.
Last but not least, keep your bedroom a blue-wave-free zone for better sleep and health. We still don't know for sure what all this technology does to our bodies and brains, so better safe than sorry.
Build and maintain healthy boundaries on social media to stay safe.
The Beauty of Healthy Boundaries
There are no healthy relationships without firm boundaries — not in real life, and not on the web.
You need them for your safety and protection.
But another aspect of having strong boundaries on social media is protecting your life's vital relationships, especially with your family.
Protect your integrity, mental health, and wellbeing by setting healthy boundaries around social media. Be smart online as you are in real life.
Take good care.
P.S.: What to learn more about boundaries? Download our FREE course here:
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