4 steps to using social media without experiencing information overload
I recently spent two days in a cabin 4,000 feet up in the Sequoia National Forest. It was a vacation we were eagerly anticipating – in no small part because we would be totally removed from society and “regular” life.
We had no cell service, no Internet, no landline, no television. So, in other words, there was no connection to anyone but ourselves. It was just my husband, daughter, our two dogs, and me.
Disconnecting from society goes hand-in-hand with spending time in nature. There’s an innate simplicity to nature as the experience strips away all the things that seem so important on a daily basis – like email, social media, to-do lists – but aren’t really essential to happiness.
I knew I would enjoy being isolated from social media, but I had no idea how much I would enjoy the space created by not scrolling through everyone’s updates, articles, group discussions, photos.
I had mental space to think about my own life. To focus on the current moment. To really enjoy every single minute with my family.
I didn’t miss picking up my iPhone to check Facebook or Instagram. I barely even paid attention to where I put my phone, which was functioning purely as a glorified clock. It was wonderful to be untethered for a while.
And though I spent just a short 48 hours of being disconnected, when we came back to civilization and I checked Facebook for the first time, I felt overwhelmed by my newsfeed and all the stuff unfolding before my eyes. It was exhausting for me.
Zig Ziglar says that “the level of information in this day and time is far more than any one person can possibly handle and process.”
Oh my, I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve always known that I can get overwhelmed with too much information, but this nature retreat really showed me how sensitive I am to information overload. My mini detox from social media emphasized just how much energy I absorb from everyone else’s social sharing.
I’m a sensitive person, so I frequently feel other people’s emotions as deeply as my own. It’s like I can feel a friend’s sadness over the loss of her pet, and I deeply sense the anger a friend has over a political issue. That means I often feel emotionally drained simply by using social media.
So since returning back to the “real world,” I’ve taken steps to ensure that information overload doesn’t get the best of me. After all, I still love social media and don’t want to boycott it altogether.
If you feel overwhelmed by social media,
try implementing these steps:
1. Limit your time spent reading social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. There’s really no better step to prevent feeling inundated with too much information than to just avoid the culprits that overwhelm you. So do whatever you need to do to control the amount of time you’re online. For me, that means only checking my personal Facebook account at the end of each day (Full disclosure: I’m still a work in progress on this one!).
2. Remove yourself from extra information. When you do get social online, make sure that you’re only seeing information that you truly care about. That means unfollowing people whose posts, tweets, or photos bother you in any way and removing yourself from any groups on Facebook that don’t benefit you. There’s no judgment here – this step is purely meant to help you maintain a balanced involvement with social media, not criticize other people for what they post.
3. Say some affirmations. (It wouldn’t be a self-care list from me if it didn’t include affirmations!) Sometimes when I’m reading other people’s social updates, I internalize their comments and compare or judge myself against them....often leading to a never-ending am-I-enough inquiry. Am I spiritual ENOUGH? Am I cooking ENOUGH healthful foods for my family? But these types of questions only sabotage our own journey and individual growth process. So to help keep them at bay, I say an affirmation like this – “I am doing the best that I can. I am safe. The Universe loves me.” That mantra helps refocus my attention on ME rather than dwelling on someone else’s life.
4. Invest in some crystals, especially smoky quartz and black tourmaline. When I’m feeling burdened by other people’s issues, I hold one or both of these crystals in my hands, close my eyes, and wish happiness, love, and light onto each person. But it doesn’t matter if you believe in the innate power of crystals. At a minimum, using crystals serves as a tool to help us hone our intentions to clear our minds and refocus our attention. This simple step helps me remember that I can’t change anyone, and that I don’t need to bear the weight of anyone else’s situation.
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