How To Practice Good Social Media Hygiene

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social media hygiene

How To Practice Good Social Media Hygiene

In today’s world, routine tasks have become much easier than what they were like back in the old days. We have easy access to pretty much anything we want or need. This convenience is made possible through the internet, and our smart phones.

Every day we get inundated with advertisements and notifications of various events and sales happening around us. Not only that, but we can also see what our friends are eating, buying, or shopping for on the other side of the globe. And, of-course vice versa!

The “likes” of our pictures make us feel validated. We equate the number of likes and hearts with our self-worth. It boosts our morale, and makes us dive deeper into getting more of these likes and hearts. It is almost like a “dopamine shot”. Every time we receive a ‘like’, it releases a bit of dopamine into our body.

What is dopamine? It is a neurotransmitter that is associated with reward, and plays a role in how we feel and experience pleasure. It stimulates the pleasure centers of our brain. It is also released, when one has their favourite food, goes shopping, and has sex, or when certain drugs are taken that make them feel “happy”.

Social media through dopamine production creates a cycle of motivation, reward, and reinforcement. It is believed that getting a dopamine boost after every “like” on social media feed is the same feeling that one gets when taking a brain-stimulating drug! In turn, this leads to an addiction to the likes and comments, the same way one goes back to other stimulants. It leads to a sense of security and social acceptance by making us feel like we “belong”.

Most of us are a part of not just one, but numerous social media platforms. It could mostly be out of the “Fear of Missing Out” or FOMO. We do not want to be left out, or to be considered ‘anti-social’. Kids as young as 4 – 5 years have their own social media presence these days!

When one is doused in the glory that likes and comments bring, especially at such a young age, it can play havoc with a developing mind. It is challenging for young children to categorize and understand the difference between social media reality, and real friendships and relationships. The number of likes and followers that one gets tends to define one’s self-worth. We do not realize that the reinforcement we receive every time we see our phone screen light up, is that it robs us of our mental focus. When our mind is constantly stimulated, it goes into overdrive, and this can block our creativity. For creative ideas to flourish, we need an unperturbed concentration and mental clarity, which is hindered when we are surrounded by this constant “noise” created by social media.

Putting away all digital distractions is the best way to bring out one’s creative side, and boost productivity. A social media detox must be practiced for a few hours every day, or one can even observe a complete social media fast for a whole day.

The best time to do this is immediately when we wake up in the morning. We are naturally inclined to first check our phones upon waking up. Curiosity and habit have set this in stone. We have all given up traditional alarm clocks, or waking up to the sunrise, and instead, prefer waking up to the alarms set on our phone. We have lost the plot if we let ourselves slip into this cycle every morning.

If we can take charge of our mornings, we can effectively control how our day will unfold. A morning routine sets the foundation for the day. If we let ourselves slip in the first hour of waking up, we are sure to get swayed with whatever comes our way during the day.

Morning is that time when we need to set the tone for the rest of our day. The best way to do this is to establish a morning regimen.

  • Try to let some light in the room, so you wake up naturally as the sun rises. If you must, use a traditional alarm clock.
  • Keep your phone in a different room to avoid the temptation of reaching for it upon waking up.
  • Continue to avoid reaching for your phone till you have first completed a few tasks for the day.

Make a checklist that can look like this:

  1. Personal hygiene: Brushing teeth, using the washroom, and bathing.
  2. Mental decluttering: Meditation, praying, listing down things that you are grateful for, journaling your thoughts, and planning the day.
  3. Physical fitness or morning exercise: This could be a full 1-hour dedicated workout, or even a 10-minute stretching routine to kick-start your blood circulation, and reduce muscle stiffness.

If time permits, you can even spare some time for reading something to stimulate the mind, aka brain exercise.

You will be surprised to see how much spare time you are left with, when you do not randomly scroll through the phone, or give in to the temptation of reaching for your phone immediately every time it buzzes. Apart from the morning routine, you can do the same in the day to avoid getting distracted. This is called self-restraint.

Every time we get distracted with a notification beep, it breaks our chain of thoughts, especially while trying to work on an important task, causing a lag in time, before we can get back in our work zone. This can massively hamper our productivity.

To enable this, you could set up a lock on certain apps. This allows you to set a time limit as to how much time you spend on social media.

Other ways to create social media hygiene:

  • Turn off notifications from unimportant apps, or the ones that do not add any value.
  • De-clutter your phone: Delete apps that you know are merely a distraction, and which you can do without.
  • Plan your social media time into your daily schedule, and only check emails and other trivial browsing in the time that you have allotted for it. It is crucial to access social media with an intention, because without it, we are bound to end up scrolling mindlessly.
  • You can even decide to leave the phone behind, when you step out for your walk or your grocery shopping and so on. This will enable you to observe the world around you. You might notice things that you otherwise would not while you walk around looking down at your phone’s screen.
  • Rather than having your earphones on, listen to the sounds around you. You will be surprised by the different kinds of sounds you come across when you actually listen. It is also a very meditative experience to mindfully soak in surrounding sounds.
  • When you go out with your partner, or family, or a friend for a lunch date, or a coffee, make a rule that neither of you can have your phones on the table, not even face down. Give them the gift of undivided attention.

All of us want to share our travel experiences with others on social media. While there is nothing wrong with this, how about really savoring the experiences through our eyes rather than through the phone camera?

When you see something and experience it to the fullest that is when it will stay with you in the truest sense in years to come. You can record videos, and take pictures for memory’s sake if you wish, but do not let the best parts slip out, while you are busy capturing it on the phone throughout the journey.

So, take ownership of your day. Be the master of your own time and your life rather than being a slave to social media and gadgets. Maintaining social media hygiene and detoxification will help you achieve this.

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