Put the phone down before things get any uglier — have the mental space to reconsider your digital consumption | Photo by @felipepelaquim on Unsplash

Terms and Conditions: Learning to Be Social Enough with Our Devices

Take a break and reflect on your speed, connectivity, and service with your socials

Social media is a balancing act: It entails an acceptable use of screen time while remaining connected and updated with social movements, relationships, and happenings—however near or far.

So much of our lives are uploaded and downloaded. With today’s media landscape, it’s critically important to recognize how social media is both a mirror and an extension of the rest of mass media.

To that end, in a similar capacity, there’s coverage between hard news and fake news. And you ought to consider when and how you should take a much-needed vacation away from them.

Consider your terms and conditions with social media, and plan ahead for trips away from Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook — the list goes on.

These seemingly harmless sites can be toxic environments. In particular, it’s fair to say that it’s time to get offline as soon as you notice your mood shifting, especially towards a negative space and with a self-destructive energy.

Importantly, it’s best to be aware of numerous manifestations of this, both mental and physical, that suggest when it may be time to take a step back and to reflect on social media as a whole.

If you begin to notice that whenever you — or any close friend or family member — uses social media, and nerves and anger get the best of you, it is a sign that a rapid and firm break away from social media is in order.

With that, there are several indicators that such a timeout is needed — expressed by your mind and your body.

Take action if you either start to feel overwhelmed by other people’s comments on your posts, notice that your heart rate races, or feel pressured to share and re-share items.

And if posts shared by others notably put you in a foul mood or a fearful place, it’s more than reasonable to log out of social media to distance yourself from that negative space.

Your personal habits on social media also tell you a lot about yourself as an individual, plus your unique relationships with the various platforms. And so, it’s important to look after them in a healthy and prosperous way, while accepting cues for whenever it’s time to take a full or a partial break.

Otherwise — and you may not even realize until it’s too late — social media will bring about a variety of negative impacts to your mental health and your overall wellbeing. And this can silently bleed into several areas of your life.

Witnessing destructive events from afar — currently, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — may not be a part of your life. But social media exists to connect you with it. And it can instill fear and anxiety through a shared sense of helplessness and sadness.

When you're worried and threatened, whether it is rational or irrational, you’re more than likely to focus on gathering the stories, the facts, and the images that you’ll need to fight or flight — whatever the battle may be.

As a result, you continue to gather information from social media sources until you have a definite plan in place — and until you feel satisfied. Yet you do so at the expense of your own peace, comfort, and happiness. This pattern can even become extreme and obsessive.

As simple as it may seem to draw black and white rules around social media use and access, you may yet find yourself swiping and scrolling — only a matter of minutes or hours later.

Because social media is designed with addiction in mind. There are powerful algorithms and compelling configurations, largely curated just for you. In the technology world, everyone is a VIP.

While often easier said than done, the real trick is to establish clear limits for yourself to hold yourself accountable with social media.

Related: Locked Down and Snowed In: It’s Time To Put Pen to Paper and Revisit the Beauty of Letters

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