This article was originally written for Inside Magazine and was featured as part of our monthly column entitled The Inside On Social Media.
Traditionally speaking I use my monthly article in this magazine to highlight ways you can use social media to increase your business presence. However, in light of all that’s happening across the world recently, with the war in Ukraine topping that list, I will be using this months article to share my top tips on how to take a break from social media or at the very least make it a better place to be.
Top Tip 1: Delete the apps from your phone. This does not mean you’re deleting your profile itself, something that many of us would find hard to do, but instead in removing the apps from your phone it makes the checking of the platforms considerably harder. Without having the apps within easy reach you’d need to boot up your computer, go on the internet, sign in and so on in order to visit the platforms - making it more of a chore. This breaks the habit of endlessly checking social media throughout the day.
Top Tip 2: Clean out your friends list. This is something I encourage anyone to do at least once per annum. Go through your friends list on Facebook, or your Following list on Instagram & Twitter, and be ruthless in unfollowing anyone whose content you do not actually enjoy seeing - that includes old school friends, celebrities, that guy you met at the club 6 years ago, your racist aunt or creepy uncle! Anyone who posts things that bring you down mentally, or whose views irritate you has to go. An alternative to this, because I know that sometimes unfriending someone can seem harsh - or even create awkwardness, especially if they’re family members - is to use the Facebook ‘unfollow’ feature. This allows you to stay ‘Friends’ but means you won’t see anything they post, and they won’t know that you’ve unfollowed them. This is something I use very often in order to avoid seeing the asinine views of old school friends that for whatever reason I just can’t seem to delete!
Top Tip 3: Understand that your social media is your space. Contrary to what some may think, your account on social media can be whatever you want it to be. You do not have to hear, listen or entertain peoples opinions if they bring you down or irritate you. Instead get trigger happy with the Block button on platforms like Twitter so that you don’t see or hear the unwanted views of complete strangers. There’s a lot to be said for healthy debate, but that is often the furthest thing from what you’ll find on social media. So if you see a hateful comment, a nasty photo, or a heinous ‘alternative view’ - click that block button and scroll on!
Top Tip 4: Do not bite. For this step to work you first have to understand how the world of News and Social Media has changed. It is no longer about who writes the best content or who produces the best story. Instead it is now primarily about two things; being first, and being the most inflammatory. That is why news outlets no longer care about well written journalistic articles when something major happens in the world, instead they want to post a very quick article with a scary heading that encourage people to either A) click on it or B) comment on it, hence the term Clickbait. In doing this they can claim higher interaction when next negotiating with advertisers. It is also worth understanding that the social media algorithm (that’s the computer code that makes the whole show function) is designed to show you more of the stuff you interact with. So the next time you comment something like “How is this even news?” under the Daily Mails latest Celeb Spotted article informing us of the latest z-list ‘star’ to fall out of a Rolls Royce in Chelsea, all that is going to happen is you’re going to see even more of those posts in the future. You’ve been baited, and if you comment on it you’ve lost and they’ve won. Instead, unfollow or block the page, and scroll on.
Top Tip 5: Verify your information. This is a BIG one recently. Just because it is written in an article online, or somebody has designed a nice picture with some words on it and posted it on Facebook it does not mean that it is fact. These things are designed with the same intentions as the content we’ve already discussed in Top Tip 4 - interaction. Do not fall for it. Instead verify information with trusted authorities. For anyone interested, especially those looking to get the real info coming out of Russia & Ukraine, firstdraftnews.org is a fantastic organisation built to tackle both mis-information and dis-information.
Hopefully these steps will help you take back control of your social media over the coming months. Remember, take control, don’t take the bait.
Jordan J. Whittingham
The Inside on Social Media