How To Make Social Media Suck Less

Social media sucks. It sucks your time and your energy. The people you follow probably suck, too. Find out how you can still use social media but make it suck less.

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Pam: [00:00] You’re listening to Not Bad Advice where we discuss one good idea that you can use right away, no matter who you are or where you’re at in life. We cover topics all over the spectrum with the simple goal of offering you a new perspective. I am Pamela Lund…

CK: and I’m CK Chung…

Pam: and we hope that after listening you’ll think, Hey, that’s not bad advice.

[00:36] I just read a stat that said in 2019 people in North America spent over two hours a day on average on social media. I bet it’s more. I’ve seen other studies that said that it’s three hours a day, and I believe that. Like most people have their phones in their hand while they’re watching TV. And Americans – this is another surprising stat. I think…or maybe not! Americans watch an average of four hours of TV per day, not counting other video, like YouTube and whatnot. So I wouldn’t be surprised if social media usage and TV usage are similar.

[01:11] I checked my usage this week, and I averaged just over an hour, a day between Twitter and Instagram, which on one hand, I still felt like it was a lot, but I was also pleasantly surprised it wasn’t more. But it’s actually not the actual time that I’m concerned with.

[01:28] The time is obviously an issue if you’re spending hours doing nothing but scrolling through feeds, when you have other valuable things that you could be doing. But today I want to focus on the impact the time on social media is having on our mental health.

[01:44] If you have two hours a day to spend on social media and it’s not having a negative impact on you, that’s great. I’d argue that there are better ways to use that time anyway, but it’s your time.

[01:56] However, if looking at social media is negatively impacting you, it doesn’t matter if you look at it for 10 minutes, the impact is still affecting you. And if something is negatively affecting you, it’s worth putting some energy into changing.

[02:11] So I’m going to share some tips to make social media, a better experience, and one that doesn’t sabotage your mental health or derail you from your goals. And these aren’t hacks to force you to use apps less.

[02:24] I’m not going to suggest using an app timer or a scheduler. Maybe they would work for you if you need a time limit on usage, but I want to focus more on things that you can do that will make your brain actually crave social media, less.

[02:37] Now real quick, I know CK, you use an app timer to prevent you from using social media more than whatever limit you put on there, and um, I was wondering why you do that since you hardly use social media at all.

CK: [02:49] Yeah.

[02:50] I think maybe that’s why, because I do hardly use it. And when I do, I may get caught up in it because I’m so not used to using it. I don’t know if that makes sense. But then that little signal of the timer going off will alert me of my usage. So that’s like a quick and easy method to be mindful of your social media usage.

[03:14] And it might be more effective for me because I don’t use social media very much. So I don’t know how effective it would be for people who are, you know, on the side of the spectrum of being addicted, if some kind of timer notification’s going to help them out.

Pam: [03:32] Yeah. I think that’s a good point because even for me, when I’m, even though I’m cognizant of how much I’m using social media, I tried the timer on my iPhone, just like native one

CK: [03:42] Yeah. That’s what I use.

Pam: [03:43] Okay. So when the notification would pop up, that I had spent my limited time or whatever, I would just disregard it, like, I don’t care.

[03:49] Like this is some arbitrary limit and I want to look at Twitter right now.

CK: [03:53] Right. Yeah, for me, it’s more like, okay, it gives you the option of ignoring it or adding like another minute or something like that. So I’ll just add on another minute and finish what I was doing. And then I’ll feel like, okay, that was my social media time. And it’s more about being mindful, I guess.

[04:13] So if I’m using social media mindfully, then I may go back on and ignore the time limit. But usually, you know, I’ll start using it mindfully and then I may get sidetracked or just start scrolling. And then that’s when it’s useful that, okay. I’ve been on Twitter for 20 minutes. I’ll just finish up what I’m doing and then

Pam: [04:36] Yeah. And that’s a good transition to what we’re talking about today. We don’t look at social media because it’s really enjoyable. There are fun moments and funny pictures and whatnot, but overall, when you’re scrolling through social media, it’s not super fun. It’s not exciting.

[04:53] And oftentimes it’s not even that interesting. When you see other people that are scrolling on their phones, they don’t look happy. They’re just zoned out, and you look the same when you’re doing it.

[05:05] So we don’t look at social media for enjoyment. As odd as that may sound. It’s true. We look at it because it’s rewarding to our brains.

[05:15] When you have a reaction to anything, it’s a stimulus for your brain, and our brains love stimulus. If you get mad at political posts or get annoyed by that person that’s trying to sell products from an MLM, or if you judge the person that posts like thirst trap selfies… whatever it is, every reaction you have to something in your feed is a signal to your brain to keep looking, to keep scrolling.

[05:43] And scrolling through social, lets you like judge the hell out of everyone else with no repercussions. It’s like this huge gossip circle you can just scroll through and be like, you know, “she’s dumb… he’s ugly… they’re ruining their life… what an idiot.” And you feel superior. I mean, not you, right? You would never do that.

[06:05] So all of those reactions, they’re just, they’re constant rewards and constant stimulus for our brain.

[06:11] And before I give the next example, I want to clarify what I mean by social media being rewarding for our brains. A reward is not inherently good. If you reward a dog for bad behavior, you reinforce bad behavior. And getting in trouble could also be a reward if you think about kids that act out for attention.

[06:32] So rewards are just a response to an action. So when I say that social media rewards our brains, I don’t mean that it gives your brain something positive or something good. It just gives your brain feedback and your brain will keep doing whatever it can to get more feedback. That’s its job is to gather information.

[06:50] So another one social media rewards your brain or gives it this feedback is by showing you all the ways you’re not stacking up. You see pictures of all the highlights of everyone else’s lives and you know they’re just highlights, but you still feel like you’re missing out or not doing enough, or you don’t have enough or whatever. That is feedback to your brain, and your brain will actively seek out more of it. It will tell you to go look at pictures of that person that makes you feel less than, or to look at your ex’s new wife or whatever it is that makes you feel bad.

[07:28] Brains are jerks like that. They want this constant information and constant feedback, no matter what it is. And you likely know everything I’m saying, but you look at social media anyway. I know everything I’m saying, and I look at it anyway. There are entire books and apps and courses dedicated to helping us use social media less, but we are still doing it more and more.

[07:56] We have to regularly be reminded to use social media less because it is constantly pulling us to use it more. And the tools that they have to hijack your brain are so much more powerful than anything you can read in a book or hear on a podcast.

[08:14] It’s more powerful than the rational part of your brain. So you have to be vigilant and you have to get this message over and over and over.

CK: [08:25] That’s such a great point. So we have to remember that these social media services. No how our brains work, basically, and they’re intentionally hijacking our minds in order to get more views on their own platforms.

Pam: [08:39] Absolutely. That translates into advertiser dollars. They are intentionally trying to get you to spend more and more time. If you look at their investor reports, they report on how much time people are spending on their platforms and they have to increase that constantly.

CK: [08:57] Yep.

Pam: [08:57] So you’re battling against that.

[09:00] Okay. So let’s get into the tips. So the first one seems pretty obvious, but you would not believe how many people don’t do this. And it’s because of that reward system that I mentioned. So it’s just to unfollow people that post things that make you feel anything you don’t want to feel. Political posts, hurtful things, whatever. If you wouldn’t listen to a person saying it to your face, don’t read it on social either.

[09:28] Picture this next time you’re scrolling. Would you let this person stand in your living room and say out loud what they’re posting? Like Can you imagine sitting down on the couch to relax after a long day and letting someone bark political points of view or hot takes at you?

[09:47] Thinking of that makes it really, really easy for me to unfollow people. The more people that you follow, the more time that you’ll spend scrolling, simply due to the sheer amount of content. You don’t have to follow the person that you went to high school with that you never interact with. You don’t have to follow your old boss that you’re not friends with anymore. You don’t have to stay connected to anyone. It’s your life. It’s your social media. It’s your feed. It’s your mental health.

[10:17] And if there’s someone that you absolutely can’t unfollow or unfriend or whatever because you feel obligated to stay connected. You can still mute them. They won’t know, and it will get them out of your feed.

[10:29] Second tip is to unfollow celebrities, news outlets, and other really popular accounts. Like these celebrities are not your friends. I know it feels like you get to know them because you’re. Seeing everything that they post, but like, you’re not going to reply to their tweet and have them invite you over to their home and become their new best friend.

[10:50] It’s just not-

CK: [10:52] What?!

Pam: [10:52] Maybe you, haha…

[10:55] And you’re not going to be uninformed because you don’t get a fire hose of content from Twitter or Facebook. Like You can read the news on your schedule and consume consciously. And these really, really popular accounts, they have so much engagement that you’re going to get sucked into the comments. You’re going to see troll replies that immediately put you in a defensive mindset or some other like low value thought. You know, Even if you just think like, “Oh, what an idiot.” That is a, a negative or. You know, a low value thought that you don’t want to put yourself into that mindset for something so unimportant and so not relevant to your life.

[11:32] Or maybe you’ll see something that actually makes you mad and it completely changes your mood. It’s like just enough to like change the flow of your entire day. All because you looked at the comments on a news article.

[11:46] And if you get sucked into the comments and you reply to someone that you disagree with, that’s going to be even worse. Like You’re going to end up in an internet argument. And like in general, just like don’t argue on the internet. Really. You are not changing anyone’s mind ever.

[12:04] So before you comment on anything, really, ask if it’s worth your time. I Honestly, do you want to have this conversation? Is this important to you? Is it adding any value to your life at all? It’s probably not, especially if it’s on social media.

[12:23] So the third group to unfollow is brands. I’m guilty of this a lot on Instagram – I follow brands that I , um, am shopping or keeping an eye on or whatever, but , um, I go through phases where I have to go and unfollow all of them. Cause I realized that I’m shopping too much. Um, So unfollowing brands has the added benefit of reducing the chances that you’re going to spend money that you didn’t intend to spend.

[12:51] One of my reasons for following brands was that I wanted to know when they would post about sales, but we know when companies run sales. Like this is not a surprise, right? They happen on holidays, always. So if you’re planning a purchase, you can coordinate it with the holiday. Maybe you follow brands around the holidays when you know that they’re going to be posting these things, but you don’t need to follow them all year and get sucked into wanting to buy things that you don’t need, or weren’t planning on.

[13:20] Or if you see a discount when you weren’t intending to buy, it makes you spend money that you weren’t planning. So if you’re on a budget, following brands is really, really dangerous.

[13:29] And I find that with some brands, I follow them because I believe in what they do, I believe in their mission. And so I’ll feel guilty about unfollowing them, and , uh, it feels like, you know, following them on social as a way to show support, even if I can’t spend money with them.

[13:47] But you have to ask yourself if your time, health, and budget are more important to you or if helping them achieve their goals is. So when I put it in that frame, it’s a no brainer for me to unfollow.

[14:01] And with all of those three tips of, of groups to unfollow, you can always refollow them. If you miss them, this is not like a permanent you hit unfollow and you can never follow them again. So test it out, unfollow a bunch of accounts, and see if your feeds are more enjoyable or if you feel less drawn to scrolling.

[14:27] The fourth tip is just don’t post. Don’t comment. Or only do it when you have the time and want to spend the time checking on reactions and replies. Because as soon as you post or comment, anything, your brain starts going like, “Oh, did somebody reply? Did anybody react to that?”

[14:47] And you start And you get pulled back even if you post and then set your phone down and walk away, you’re constantly being drawn back to see if there was any reaction or comment or any additional reward that you can get from that post. So, So if you’ve got something that you’re supposed to be focused on, this will majorly derail your brain. So just keep that in mind.

[15:12] And on top of that, there’s all sorts of weird psychology that happens after you post something. You start wondering you know, why this person didn’t respond or what this person thought, and it activates that awkward teenager stuck in your brain and it sends you into this approval seeking mode.

[15:31] So, if you’re trying to break a social media habit, taking yourself out of the conversation is a key step, even though it seems drastic. If you’re not commenting and posting, like where’s the social part of social media? But I think we need to stop thinking that social media is actually social. It definitely can be social, but most of how we use it is not.

[15:54] And like we don’t act on there like we would act in a room full of the people that we interact with offline. So before I post or comment, I like to ask myself two questions. The first one is: is this adding value? And value can be anything from making someone laugh to informing them to asking a question you need help with. There’s There’s tons of ways to add value. You’ll know if you’re adding value. Um, And also like ask if you would say this to the person in-person and if not, it’s probably not adding value.

[16:29] And the second again is: is this worth my time? I’ll start replying to someone, you know, commenting or I’ll start posting something. And then I’m like, “what am I doing? This is such a waste of time!”

[16:41] Okay. And last, but definitely not least, be mindful. Check in with yourself. This is something I think I’ve recommended in every episode we’ve done, but that’s because it’s so important and it’s really useful in any situation. Building a habit of noticing when you’re not acting intentionally, and checking in to see what’s going on, will help you stay aligned with what’s best for you.

[17:08] When you realize you’ve been scrolling for a bit, just stop and ask, how am I feeling? Does this feel good? Is this really what I want? And the answer will probably be no. And then you can shift your attention to something that you actually want to engage with.

[17:24] When I check in like this after scrolling, I’m usually like, “what am I doing?” But it’s just habitual. And the apps, like we said, are so perfectly designed to take advantage of the way our brains crave constant input. So even when you’re aware that they are designed to suck you in, they still do. You have to build that mindfulness practice.

[17:47] So you’re always checking in with yourself to see if you’re feeling the way you want and doing what you want to be doing.

CK: [17:54] Great tips.

Pam: [17:55] Thank you. Now. I need to make sure I put them all into practice. It’s a constant battle.

[18:03] All right. So we’re going to transition to the part of the show where I shuffle a deck of Oracle cards and pull a card to see how that card can relate to what we talked about today. And I like doing this because it gives me a visual to associate with the topic, and when I have a visual, it makes it easier to remember the perspective. So let’s see what the Nocturne Oracle deck from the creeping moon has to offer us as a visual for being mindful about social media.

[19:10] All right. So today we have the shark, and sharks they are are a sign of confidence and forward motion. You never see a shark going backwards. So with this, I want to actually want to give two visuals with this. One is to think of the social media networks like sharks. They are big, scary things coming to eat you. If you’re scared of sharks, I’m going to give you that visual.

[19:52] They don’t have your best interest in mind. They are trying to take your time. They’re trying to, to, bite your arm off. They want it, They want to draw you in. Um, But the other visual that we can think of with the shark is this forward motion and being mindful about where you’re going.

[20:12] And if you are being sucked into spending a lot of time on social media, you’re not being mindful of your forward motion. You are not moving in the direction that you should be moving. You’re not in your strength. You’re not in your power. You are achieving someone else’s goals. So think about the forward motion of the shark. Think about not going backwards and staying in your power rather than being drawn into what the social networks want you to do.

CK: [20:51] Don’t let social media hijack your forward motion.

Pam: [20:55] There you go. All right, so if you found yourself thinking, “Hey, that’s not bad advice” while listening today, please share the episode with your friends and rate it in iTunes. It really does help. You can get in touch with us on Twitter. It’s funny for us to mention this today, but you can, you can get in touch with us on Twitter, where I’m @Pamela_Lund and CK is @cKdisco.

[21:16] You can also visit to connect with us. If there’s something you need advice about, we’d love to hear from you.

Practical life advice delivered with a sense of humor and a side of intuition. Is it good? It’s definitely not bad!

Pamela Lund

Pamela Lund

The Linchpin


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