I went on a social media break starting Septem-ber. I finally resurfaced after two months only because my work required it. It was peaceful while it lasted. I certainly did not miss that familiar notification alert tone every time a person likes or comments on my posts.
At first, I thought it was just me. After coming to terms with middle age and everything else that comes along it, I thought I was losing patience over negative posts and too much information because I was getting old. Boy was I wrong. There is such a thing as social media exhaustion. In fact, there is numerous literature that delve on this very topic. There is one that I really found interesting and practical so much so that I would love to share it with you, dear reader.
Before we go to that, I would like to first define what social media exhaustion is. As explained on techopedia.com, social media exhaustion or fatigue refers to social media users’ tendency to “pull back from social media when they become overwhelmed with too many social media sites, too many friends and followers, and too much time spent online maintaining these connections.” Other reasons for the fatigue include “boredom and concerns about online privacy.”
The article I want to focus on was written by creative strategist, social entrepreneur, and mental health campaigner Dr. Pragya Agarwal. Published on forbes.com last July 30, 2018, her article centered on the five ways to overcome online social media fatigue for mental well-being. The article offers startling assertions and valuable insights. Let us first start with the numbers. Close to half of the world’s population (that would translate to 3 BILLION) are connected over the great expanse that is social media. Agarwal cites a study that showed an average person spends about twenty minutes on Facebook everyday. I am pretty sure that that is an understatement for a lot of us. We can definitely spend hours online, intermittently of course. Multiple platforms and fast streaming, Agarwal asserts, have caused a decrease in attention spans of social media users and have caused an increase in heart palpitations. Apart from this, she also discovered through her research that many social media users feel stressed, overwhelmed, and panicked due to social media use. Here were some of the reasons that she gathered:
• Pressure to be perfect
• Everyone else is doing so much more
• Constant struggle to gain more followers
• The need for validation through likes, views, or retweets
• Negative feedback or posts
If you feel the same way, Agarwal suggests these five practical ways to combat social media fatigue to achieve better mental health.
1. Step away. According to Agarwal, it is ok to take a break. She says it is important to step away, re-evaluate, and come back to it if and only when we are happy with being back. She further says that people who like our work and want to connect would stay with us.
2. Be selective. Agarwal suggests not to maintain too many sites or too many friends. Focus on quality not quantity.
3. Less is more. We do not have to post too many times in a day. Post when you really have something to say or share.
4. Be creative. Find new interests. Read a good book. Start a real diary offline. Join an arts class. Whatever it is, find something creative to do outside the social media world.
5. Be authentic. You do not have to don a new persona on line. Be genuine. Be real. Agarwal invites us to believe in ourselves and our own “brand.” Being real is much cooler than being someone who we are most certainly not.