In June of 2020, I reached a breaking point on Facebook. I had just spent 30 minutes carefully crafting a comment about the Black Lives Matter movement in response to a “friend’s” extremely inflammatory post on the subject.

After those 30 minutes, I waited to see their response, ready to counter any argument they had against my thoughts. In total, I wasted over an hour. And during that time, I was anxious and angry the entire time.

Then my 2-month old baby woke up from his nap. I had wasted the sacred nap time in an extremely negative headspace, for what? I didn’t change that friend’s opinion. All I did was create even more of a bridge between us.

There’s a time and a place to have deep conversations and Facebook’s comments section isn’t it. What I did next was probably drastic. I unfollowed that person and any person whose posts were likely to make me upset. I vowed to not get into comment fights with friends anymore. Then I deleted Facebook from my phone.

And life got better. I spent less time being angry at what other people were sharing and I spent those nap times doing things I wanted to do instead. Like napping myself.

How to balance your social media use.

Whether you want to stop getting into political fights or just want to limit your social media usage, here are the first two steps in balancing use.

Step 1: Think about why you want to use social media in the first place.

Are you on the apps because you want to stay connected to people? Is that where you find your news? Do you go there to learn something new? Each platform may have a different goal, and that’s completely fine.

Step 2: Audit your social media use.

It’s easy to look at time spent on social apps and think that’s all you need to get a clear picture. Take it one step further! What are you doing when you’re on the apps? Is it in line with the goals you thought about above? What triggers you to get on the platforms each day?

There’s no right or wrong reason to use social media. But if what you’re doing on the platforms doesn’t align with what you want to be doing, then it’s time to reevaluate your use.

Maybe you realize that, like me, you spend a lot of time arguing with people. If that’s your thing, more power to you.

Maybe you’re just bored and grab it to keep yourself entertained.

Maybe you actually do stay connected with friends and your community in the way you want.

Here’s what my personal audit looked like…

Liv’s social media use goals:

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat – Stay connected to my friends and family.

LinkedIn – Stay up to date on industry trends.

Pinterest – Get ideas for projects I’m working on.

Liv’s actual social media usage:

Facebook – Doomscrolling and getting into arguments.

Instagram – Doomscrolling and sharing memes with friends.

Snapchat – Connecting with friends.

LinkedIn – Seeing career updates about friends.

Pinterest – Learning new ideas for projects I’m working on.

Things that trigger me to log in are boredom and stress.

Become a mindful social media user.

So how does one combat this? Mindfulness. That word is thrown around a lot, but being mindful of your social media usage and creating the experience you want to have on the platforms is key. Luckily, there are a few easy steps you can take right away.

  1. Do a “follow” cleanse. Unfollow brands/groups/people that don’t contribute positively to your experience. I joined Facebook in 2009 when I was in high school. There are a lot of brands/people I followed in 2009 *cough*Nickleback*cough* that I genuinely don’t care about anymore. In addition, as mentioned above, some people just get under my skin because of what they post. Unfollow them. You have the right to have a positive experience on the platform. Yes, doing this could lead to more confirmation bias if you delete organizations and people who challenge your beliefs. Balance this with your desire to have a positive experience.
  2. No more notifications. Unless you work in social media, turn off your push notifications. I’ve done this for about 3 months now and it’s so refreshing and has limited my social use substantially. If someone desperately needs you, they’ll text or call.
  3. Delete apps/platforms that no longer serve you. I used to live on Twitter when I was heavily entrenched in sports journalism, but now I barely get on the platform, so it’s been deleted from my phone. You can still access your account on your computer if needed.
  4. THINK before you post. You’ll be surprised how little you post if you run through this checklist.

Is it True?

Is it Helpful?

Is it Inspiring?

Is it Necessary?

Is it Kind?

  1. Find alternatives for your goals. When I had my son, I wanted to share photos of him with friends and family daily, but not on Facebook. There are many reasons for this, but it mostly boiled down to privacy concerns for him. I found an alternative app called PhotoCircle, where I upload as many photos as I want of him each day, and only those people I invite to be in his circle can see the pictures and comment on them. I can control exactly who sees the information and I’m not bombarding my random collection of Facebook friends with 1500 photos a year of my son (not an exaggeration).

Every person is different when it comes to their goals and usage of social media. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to balancing your usage. Hopefully, these tips are a good starting point. If you have other ways to balance your use, let us know!