Guess how many people use social media? A whopping 3.1 billion folks! That's roughly one-third of the earth's population. Out of those, guess how many are addicted to it? Reportedly, 210 million folks (with most of them being young single women).
Adding to these stats, 71 percent of people sleep with their smartphone, 50 percent check their socials while driving (SMH) and 10 percent of teenagers check their cells no less than 10 times a night. I bet out of all of those findings, the main thing you're probably wondering is what constitutes a real deal Holyfield social media addiction. That's fair.
According to experts on the topic, you're leaning towards being an addict if you—check your notifications every few minutes; update your locations constantly; can't go a day without posting something (that has nothing to do with your career or platform); have to keep your phone on and close to you at night; can't go a week without taking a selfie; can't put your phone away when you're spending time with other people; check your phone while you're driving or walking; have more "friends" online than off and you internally lose it when folks don't comment on your posts. Oh, and if you can't remember the last time you went on a social media fast—if ever.
If you can check off four or more of these things, you are sho 'nuf a candidate for being a social media addict. It's problematic too, because this kind of addiction can affect your vision, give you bouts of loneliness and depression, put your productivity in jeopardy (which can put your job in jeopardy too), place a strain on your relationships and get you caught up in the illusion of the online world vs. the real one (which is offline).
I'm not sharing all of this with you so that you'll stop utilizing social media altogether. I'm simply sharing it so that you'll be intentional about protecting yourself from becoming an addict. More importantly, so that you'll take steps to protect yourself from all of the drama and negativity that is far more prevalent on social media than a lot of us realize.
And how can you do just that?
1. Go to a “Happy Place Site”—First
Before you decide to hop on to your favorite gossip blog (or vlog) or even a news outlet, how about going to a site or even someone's personal social media page that will be sure to put a smile on your face? Me? I like things like human interest stories on People, KevOnStage's YouTube channel (his semi-recent Righteous and Ratchet "Jess Hilarious + Cancel Culture" episode had some gems in it), GoodBlackNews.org, GoodNewsNetwork.org or ComedianShulerKing's page. You can also put a hashtag of a show that you missed, just to see the memes and comments so that you can get a good laugh in.
At least that way, you can start things off on a high note before all of the drama starts to creep in.
2. Remember What the Definition of Gossip Is
It tickles me whenever people tell me they hate gossip but then, not two minutes later, will go ham on some celebrity news like they know the people personally. I was an entertainment writer before I got more into the relationships and wellness lane and let me just tell you—NOTHING is what it seems. Please don't get caught up drinking so much hot tea that it burns you. Literally.
While we're on this topic, please also don't think that just because you don't listen to a lot of sensationalism or stuff that should be ran through fact-checking site at least a dozen times that it still doesn't constitute as being gossip. Although a lot of us only like to define gossip as being drama and rumors, it also means idle talk about people's private affairs, period.
An English philologist by the name of Robert Forby once said, "A dog that will fetch a bone, will carry a bone." If you add to that, grandmama's saying "Hit dog will holla" well…just be careful what you take in and what you do with it. Gossip may be entertaining, but it can also be quite destructive too (check out "Rumors, Gossip and Your Health").
3. Be Cautious in Giving (and Accepting) Unsolicited Advice
I don't know what makes so many of us think that people need our opinion and perspective on just about everything, but clearly, with currently 321 million monthly users on Twitter alone, we do. And while I'll be the first to say that Black Twitter must be protected at all costs, I'll also say that social media has turned a lot of people into either big bullies or big babies; if not a hybrid of the two.
It's very fascinating to me that someone will share their thoughts on their page and then here people come telling them how wrong and ridiculous they are. Then, when those same people receive the treatment they dished out to someone else, they want to get all salty or sensitive about it.
No one is going to like everything you post or say. You aren't gonna like everyone else's profiles either. AND THAT IS OK. Just accepting these two facts alone should make for a more peaceful social media world. But if you don't want to get constantly caught up in wasting more time than you've got, all because you decided to dish out advice/insight that wasn't asked for or because you got hyper-sensitive about what someone said to you, maybe you should think long and hard about if social media is the space for you. Or—and better still—you should be mindful about how you respond/react to something before you actually do it.
This brings me to the next point...
4. Be Honest (with Yourself) About Your Posts (BEFORE Posting)
A few months ago, I was having a conversation with someone who told me that they were going to get off of Instagram because they weren't getting as many likes on their posts as they wanted and it was pissing them off.
Gee, we've got a ranting Cheeto in human form for a president and hate crimes are reportedly up 17 percent since he's been in office, but someone is mad because their beach selfies aren't receiving rave reviews? With attitudes like that, it's no wonder that there are articles like "Social Media Has Created a Generation of Self-Obsessed Narcissists", "Excessive Posting of Photos on Social Media Is Associated with Increase in Narcissism" and "Is Social Media to Blame for the Rise In Narcissism?"
There's nothing wrong with selfies or basically anything else you want to post on your profile pages. After all, they're your pages. But posting really should be more about sharing your personality or brand, regardless of how others choose to respond to it; if at all.
Bottom line, if your motive for posting ANYTHING is so people can tell you how awesome you are all of the time, 1) you're setting yourself up to be just as pissed off as the person I just mentioned and 2) you're really setting yourself up to become a raging narcissist someday whether you realize it or not. And narcissists are full of drama and negativity—whether they are too arrogant to recognize it or not (again, "45" is a great reminder of this).
5. Count to 10 Before Responding—to ANYTHING
I've got a girlfriend (who shall remain nameless) who stays in some foolishness on social media. Why? Because let someone say something—anything—she doesn't like and she's letting them get at least a full paragraph's worth of her mind. All that does is get the initial poster or commenter all in a tizzy and, if her comment is buck enough, it brings others in on it too.
Listen, if y'all got time for that, have at it. But I'm willing to bet that if you've got a job (or you run a business), you're in a relationship and/or you're a mom, you don't have as much time as you think. For this reason alone, if someone triggers you online, do the same thing that you (hopefully) would if you were within earshot of them. Pause, count to 10, ask yourself if what you're about to say, you're prepared to go down in history (because on the internet, nothing ever gets truly deleted)—and then say it.
The drama on social media would drop at least 60 percent if folks put this into practice. I'd put some good money on that.
6. Don’t Get Attached to TrollsGiphy
Sometimes, the best thing about a post are the comments, that's for sure. But you can bet that there are some people who live to do nothing more than troll others (like the commenters on TMZ's page— SMH). If you're not exactly sure whether or not you're dealing with a highly-opinionated individual or an actual troll here are some signs of the latter—they usually have wack profiles (ones that make you wonder if a real person is running the account); they're going to want to argue about any and everything you have to say; they have nothing short of tunnel-vision when it comes to the way they see things; they live to bait you in, then tear you down while they rarely saying anything that's truly beneficial.
Sometimes trolls are so good at pushing buttons that you can get more invested than you ever should. If you know this is you, remember that you can always A) ignore them; B) delete their comments (when they are on your page) or C) block them altogether. (Watch how much freer you'll feel when you do!)
7. Insert the Golden RuleGiphy
Something that I find to be both fascinating and unfortunate is how much of a bulldozer so many people online are. Before you're like "Yeah!", it should go on record that less and less is it coming from just one side. Christians want non-Christians to shut up just as much as non-Christians want Christians to. If someone doesn't share a person's view on politics, sexuality, pop culture or any other hot topic, there is a campaign to immediately get them "cancelled". Ugh. It's dangerous to not let someone's voice be heard. It's equally as dangerous to try and silence it if it doesn't agree with your own.
Mama told us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Father MC put it this way—treat them like they want to be treated. I have pretty strong views on, well, just about anything. But I am confident enough in those views to hear other people out and to not feel attacked just because they may not agree with me.
It's a very insecure person who feels the need to force others to think/live as they do, and a ton of those people exist on social media. Try and avoid being one of them.
8. Offer a Silver Lining Perspective
One of my other girlfriends, I call her "glass half full" because she can see the upswing for just about anything. There's something really refreshing about that. It's like being a beacon of light in what can sometimes be a very dark place—or, as it relates to social media specifically, space.
One way that you can lighten things up a bit is to provide a silver lining to some of the news or gossip that is shared. I'm not saying be unrealistic or act like you live in a world filled with nothing but unicorns and rainbows. I'm just saying that sometimes all it takes is one positive point to totally shift the atmosphere of 20 negative statements.
9. Take Regular Breaks
I already know that some of y'all are NOT gonna receive this point, but I'm still gonna put it out there. It can never hurt to take a break from social media every few months. How much of a break? According to a lot of mental health experts, 30 full days. That means no logging on, no receiving notifications, no commenting—nothing.
If the thought of doing that already has you breathing through a brown paper bag, you should be the first in line to take it! It's proven that social media breaks can do everything from help you to realign boundaries and make you more productive to reduce your stress levels and give you a better night's rest.
Sadly, a lot of us stay irritable, not because of what's happening offline but what we're doing while we're on it. And since most of us are "plugged in" 11 hours a day…with all of the info and opinions that are constantly inundating our psyches, can't you see how your mind, body and spirit could benefit from reading a book or taking a stroll in the park? Without your phone?
10. Try to Mind Your Own Business
Did you know that there is even a Scripture in the Bible that co-signs on staying in your own backyard? I Thessalonians 4:11(NKJV) says, "that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you".
I'll be the first to say that things people don't want to receive comments on, they shouldn't post them. But that doesn't mean that we should feel the need to comment on EVERYTHING. If you try and focus on what you've got going on in your world, even the part of the world that is your own social media profiles, you'll realize that you don't have the time or energy to always be up in other people's stuff.
If you don't have personal drama and negativity, the less you'll want to get caught up in someone else's. Especially people you barely even know. Feel me?
Featured image by Getty Images.
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