Let’s talk about how to use social media and not be used by social media.
If you pay attention to anything you’ve probably heard and maybe you’ve even thought that social media is bad. It makes people feel bad about themselves. It’s a waste of time.
But I have a slightly different perspective about social media. In fact, I’ll go ahead and say, I love it.
You can use social media so that you get all the benefits, without any of the downsides.
Maybe, in hearing today’s episode, you’ll hear some benefits that you hadn’t considered.
Also, I want to share with you some specific actionable things you can do so that you are not being used by social media.
What Do I Mean By Social Media
Let’s get ourselves on the same page. When I talk about social media, I’m talking primarily about Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok. Snapchat, Reddit and all the rest.
I currently only use 3 of those platforms, but I”m sharing this information as it does apply to any social media site.
First, I want to tell you about why I love social media and what it does for me and what benefits I get from it. Then, we can talk about the downsides .
Then I’ll tell you the specific intentional ways that I use social media that you can consider for yourself as you use social media instead of being used by it.A common complaint (that you might agree with) is social media might be interrupting instead of improving the life that you want for yourself. I think social media improves my life.
Here are 3 reasons (of many) that I do love social media so much and I willingly go to it every day and spend some of my time on these platforms.
The first reason that I really love social media is the power of connection.
My first social media platform was Facebook. I was a resistant adopter about 10 years ago, It seemed like everyone else had already got on. I wondered why.
What do I need it for? I wasn’t that interested- until I saw that people in my family were getting some inside scoops and seeing some photos of each other that I didn’t have access to and I that wasn’t aware of.
I was missing out! So, “well done marketing and well done FOMO!” Your plan worked! You got me to join!
Long Term Connections
The reason why I joined Facebook in the first place was because I wanted to have that level of connection as my family members were sharing things. Plus, then I had so much fun connecting with everyone I knew and worked with and went to school with years earlier. It was so great to reconnect with people from the past to see what everyone was up to.
Then I quickly saw a secondary benefit, which was, as I met people in real life, a new friend, a new acquaintance, someone new to me that we had similar interests, joining and connecting on Facebook gave us a chance to further our connection, even if it was months, or ever, before we saw each other again in real life.
I remember meeting people for the first time and getting to know each other a little and getting a little vibe like “we could be friends or we have this in common.”
Then it was so easy to take the extra step of saying, “are you on social media?”
Connecting with them that way gave me an opportunity to see a little bit more of what they share to get to know them.I could follow along with them in their lives and share more information about myself in a very low stakes way.
So, the next time we saw each other, we already had a further connection. Otherwise it would have been very easy for us to have forgotten about each other or lost interest in the in-between time.
Chatting All Day Long
Another way that I use social media for connection is the group chat. Connecting through a fun group chat is something that really helped me get through the first few months of quarantine and COVID and all of that uncertainty that happened in 2020.
I had been using group chat and messages well before that, but specifically during those few months, group chat was a great way to maintain some close friendships.
For months, we would comment and check in on each other and tell jokes and share funny stories and complain. That group chat thread was a running non-stop conversation that was so supportive and delightful and such a great way to feel connected to people that I really love and value, even though we were separated and trying not to be around anyone.
I had that ongoing, daily little window of my computer that made me feel so close to these people and I am so grateful for that connection.
Why I Love Facebook Groups
A third way that I find connection, specifically on Facebook is Facebook groups. I guess I am the target market of Facebook’s marketing because they have been pushing groups and trying to popularize them. I’m down for it.
There are so many groups for so many reasons. I’m able to find other people who are interested in the same topics I am. I can easily find a place to ask and answer questions, share resources, support each other and learn from each other.
Facebook groups are really good. I have a little hack that I’ll tell you about in a few minutes that I use so that I can stay on top of the groups I’m in. I probably spend most of my social media time just in the communities I care about.
I don’t only hang out in the places that the Facebook algorithm thinks I should see.In summary, the first reason why I love social media is because of connection.
All the Stuff I Learn on Social
The second reason why I love social media is because of information.
When you find someone who has the same interests as you or is interested in the same topic, then you are able to learn from each other. People share so many resources. I learn so much – even just by scrolling.
I love that people share information that I care about and that I find helpful and useful.
You know how there are Social Media influencers? Well I am frequently influenced! I learn about books, tv shows, products, groups, news, life hacs – I learn so much!
I have 2 examples that I learned through scrolling that have made my life more interesting and creative.
I was scrolling in an Ask Reddit thread. The topic was something about, “what hobby have you tried recently?”
I thought, “I would love to know the answers. I would love to know what people share as a new hobby.”
Someone wrote that they had recently picked up a pack of watercolor pencils, and was having so much fun. I didn’t even know what watercolor pencils were and now I was very curious about them.
That sent me off on a little rabbit hole to learn about watercolor pencils and maybe get some for myself to try out.
Trying out those pencils gave me the little push to sign up for a watercolor class at my local community center, which really opened up my artistic creation, ability and interest.
And, as a bonus, my niece took that watercolor class with me for a few months. So we got the benefit of that connection too . And it all started with someone commenting on a thread in a social media post.
Quickly Open a Document
Another fun thing I learned by scrolling on social media was when someone shared the shortcut of how to open a new blank document on your Chrome browser. You just type in DOC dot new or if you want to open a new spreadsheet on your Chrome browser, you just type in sheet S H E E T dot new and then you have this new blank document or a new blank sheet.
This is assuming that you have a Google account, like a Gmail or something.
I have used this tip so much, probably daily since I learned.
It’s a time saver for me. It makes me feel so efficient and together. I’m able to quickly take notes or do a calculation or make a list. I learned it thanks to social media.
That’s the second reason why I love social media: I get new information that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
Meeting People on Social
I also love social media because it helps me meet new people. It gives me a chance to meet people in two different ways.
Because I am a coach, a podcast host and a journal creator, I love to post about what I do. People who don’t know me yet can find me. Social media is a great tool for that. Maybe you even found me because of something that I’ve posted somewhere.
I also love using social to meet people because I can look through places online and find other people who are doing what I’m doing or who are interested in the kinds of things that I do and connect with them.
I’ve had some lovely connections with people through meeting for the first time on social media.
It’s a great way to meet people. Especially for the fact that we can meet people all over the world that we would have no chance of running into if we were trying to meet in our similar geographic location.
Hopefully you’ve heard at least three reasons that you could love social media too or love it even more. You can use it to connect more deeply with people, to learn new information and to meet new people.
The Downsides of Social Media
Let’s just be realistic and transparent about some of the downsides of social media. Because I am not trying to just paint this with a rainbow glitter unicorn brush and say it’s all perfect. Of course there are downsides.
One of the downsides is that sometimes people find themselves mindlessly scrolling and then 30 minutes an hour, however long later they realize “wow, I’ve just been sitting here probably with bad posture, staring at my phone or computer.”
They probably didn’t get any benefit from that stretch of time. Yes, social media can be a time waster. It can be a time suck.
To compound that problem, depending on what you saw, as you were scrolling, it can also flood your mind with negativity.
The Negativity on Social Media
There have been studies done and documentaries created around this about the negativity, the divisiveness, the anger, the snarkiness. All of those things that are not very pretty or helpful.
All of that negativity can be in front of us and we just take it in without question and without realizing we’re taking it in.
Then we feel miserable because we saw all of this arguing or negativity or low value content that doesn’t improve our lives in any way.
Of course, being exposed to so much negativity is a downside of using social media frequently.Another part of that is the misinformation and manipulation that happens on social media.
That might just be a subset of the idea of negativity but, you know, we’ve heard of people who get sucked into scams or who see a headline or a well crafted post and it sparks the survival mechanism of the threat center of the brain.
They might think “oh my goodness, this must be true!” I’m on alert. Now I need to be upset about this or I need to take action on this. Or, it’s stressing me out.
The Manipulation on Social Media
Social media is manipulative. Many people scroll through social media and they see these very well-crafted messages and it puts them in threat mode or it reduces their critical thinking abilities.
Their brains think their beliefs, preferences or lifestyle or their chosen community is under attack because of something that they saw on social media. And, of course, feeling like we’re threatened or under attack doesn’t put any of us in the best state of mind.
The misinformation and manipulation that happens on social media is definitely a downside. The personal example that happened to me was getting my account hacked.
People are very clever and can use our trust and our naivete, maybe, to share very interesting looking, or important looking links that we should click on.
Or, we get a friend request and think this new person is a friend of someone we know, so we accept the friend request because we don’t want to be rude. And, before you know it, your account is hacked!
That causes a lot of frustration and stress and maybe even further problems because a hacking can lead to invasion of other accounts if you have things connected. That can lead to a whole situation.
Manipulation and misinformation is definitely a downside of social media.
How To Combat The Downsides?
How can we still use social media to our advantage without falling victim to the mindless scrolling and the negativity and the misinformation? How can we not be manipulated and sidestep the risk of having our personal digital space invaded?
4 Ways to Improve Your Social Media Experience
I have four different ways that I recommend and that I use myself to make my social media experience work for me. Using these methods makes social media a valuable and beneficial part of my life instead of something that’s negative and wasting my time.
Further Connections by Connecting
The first thing that I love to do is connect when I meet someone new, either in person or online in a networking group or in a Facebook group, whenever I meet someone new. If I feel a spark there, I definitely want to connect with them on social media.
Going back to what I said at the very beginning when I talked about the benefits of connection, by friending or following someone, I get to see a little bit more into what they share. I get to know them a little bit. I get to have a chance to comment on their posts or send them a private message to say hi, it was so nice to meet you.
Low Stakes Way To Continue
Connecting on social media is such a lovely, low stakes way to further a conversation that just started and just to see if it’s going to go anywhere. It’s so valuable.
I would definitely recommend, if you want to take advantage of the power of social media, to further connections with people that you meet, either online or in real life, take that extra step once you’ve met someone – connect with them on social.
Say hi, comment on their pictures, show them some love. Keep the conversation going, see what else you have in common and see what blooms from that original connection.
Purpose for Scrolling
The second way that I use social media so that it is not a time waster and so that I don’t get sucked in is when I scroll on social media, I usually have a purpose. I usually do it for a set amount of time.
For example, I like to see what’s new in the groups that I’m in and that I care about. I will decide to only look at specific groups and only for 20 minutes.
I only want to see the most recent comments that have been posted to see if there are any topics that I’m interested in or questions that I might know the answer to.
When I open a group, I’ll sort to only see the most recent activity. I won’t look at the ranked activity which Facebook wants to show me: the top posts that have had the most interaction and the most comments on them. I don’t necessarily want to see those because maybe those aren’t posts that I’m curious about.
Sort by Recent
So, instead I sort by recent. Then I can just see what has happened and what’s been posted in the group since the last time that I looked at that group. That really keeps me more up to date. It lets me see things that were just recently posted.
One thing that I love about this method is because sometimes people will post something in a really large group, it’ll get lost. No one happens to see it or comment on it.
I love to see those if I happen to log on right when someone’s asked a question. Even if I don’t know the answer, I can tell it would be really helpful if they got an answer to the question.
Sometimes I will just comment with “I don’t know the answer to this question, but I’m just commenting in case someone else does.” Or maybe I’ll tag someone I know who might know the answer. This falls under my intention of giving what I want more of. When I post something, I want people to respond or comment on it, so I try to do that whenever I can for other people.
When I log on to Facebook, I always put a timer on when I’m scrolling and then I have a specific purpose.
Maybe the purpose is really just to see what’s new. Or, maybe it’s to hang out online for a minute. Maybe I’m taking a little entertainment break from my day. I like that. It’s a good use of my time.
Stay Aware of My Reactions
My next tip is a way to make sure that my entertainment time stays entertaining. I stay aware of my intention, my body language, my emotion and my reactions.
While I’m scrolling, as soon as I get a little hint that I’m feeling uncomfortable or a little tinge of negativity, as soon as I feel myself getting a little upset by something that someone’s posted, I take action.
What kind of action might I take?
If I am scrolling through my newsfeed that Facebook or Instagram has suggested to me, when they’re deciding what I should see, as soon as I notice the thought like, “oh, I don’t like this. I don’t like what that person wrote.” I end it. I either end my scroll session, or I end my ability to see their posts.
This is My Time
I want to spend my time the way I want.
Maybe this person is in a mental space right now and I don’t want to be in that space.
I don’t want to see any of their comments while they’re in that space. I can snooze them. I sometimes even block them so that I don’t ever see any of their posts again. Or I jump out of the group that I’m in. Or I just end my social media session at that time.
When I realize, “Wait, this isn’t how I want to be spending my time right now. I’m starting to feel kind of negative or kind of down on myself.” That’s when I end the session. I don’t keep scrolling when I’m not feeling great and when it’s not giving me what I want. This also happens at the first sign of boredom.
2 Channels of My Brain
Basically, while I’m scrolling, I have 2 channels open in my brain. I’m scanning what I see on my screen and I’m scanning how my body and mind are reacting. As soon as I get any indication that this isn’t serving me, I snap out of the trance and take action.
My advice is to be very, very quick and generous with your snooze and block and exit buttons.
Really curate who is in your list and who you are following so you really see the content that you want to see and you don’t see what you don’t want to see.
This means you don’t have to follow everyone who invites you. You don’t have to look at the posts of everyone you know or who’s in your family just because you’re related or have known each other for a long time.
You get to decide who you see and who you don’t see on your social media feeds.
What do you think?
Would any of these tips work for you?
Would you be able to have further relationships by connection on social? Can you think of a purpose for a social media session before going in? Would you ever set a timer? Are you able to scan yourself while you’re scanning your feed to make sure to jump out as soon as it’s no longer what you want?
What are your favorite ways to make social media work for you to improve your life? I want to hear it all!
If you want a few suggestions of some fun, positive and helpful places to hang out online, join one or both of my current facebook groups:
Journaling and Friendship
This group gives you a new journal prompt every morning, plus we get together both in person and on zoom to journal and to make friends.
Business Brainstorming and Tech Tips
My newest group gives you a weekly tech tip, plus a community with encouragement and support. It’s a place to ask questions and share resources. So far this month, we have had 1 office hours session where people have dropped in for a business brainstorming session or a quick tech question. Check for the next office hours at bexb.org/letsmeet
If you want to follow along on an Instagram experiment I’m doing right now, you can find me @bexbeltran_org and see what happens when someone starts a brand new IG account from zero and spends 30 minutes a day for 30 days engaging and interacting from the new account.
How much do you think it will grow in one month’s time?
Behind the Scenes Tour
You also might be so excited to hear about the Behind the Scenes Tour coming up on Feb 16th.
I’m sharing an exclusive, all access ask-me-anything session about how I created my very first notebook last year (without being sure how to do it or what it could lead to) and how that grew into the shop with 200 journals and notebooks. Do you have an idea for a journal you would love to create for yourself? Are you curious if you could put your creativity to work for you and start your own shop?
Reserve your spot for this Behind the Scenes Tour tour to ask all your questions and see all the tools, software and systems I use. http://bexb.org/btstour/