According to Media Kix, we spend 1 hour and 56 minutes on social a day. This translates to 5 years and 4 months over a lifetime.
For perspective, in 5 years and 4 months, you could run 10,0000 marathons or climb Mt. Everest 32 times.
Not that I want to do either of those things even once before I die, but you get the point. If we’re going to spend that much time on something in our lifetimes, let’s at least find a way to make it meaningful.
The Problem With Social Media
Back when I was in college, everyone had answering machines because no one had cell phones. Each day we would have to check our answering machines to see who called us while we were out. Whenever I came home to that zero glaring at me on the answering machine I felt like no one cared about me.
Today, answering machines have been replaced by our social followings and these are so much more unreliable gauges for our self-worth even than answering machines were. At least the people who used to call us (or not call us) were people we knew. Now we can find ourselves feeling bad when people we don’t even know don’t like us.
The National Center For Biotechnology Information posted a study showing the use of Facebook was negatively associated with well being. Even Facebook admitted that when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information they feel worse afterward. This passively consuming other peoples lives and subconsciously comparing it to our own leads to depression and the feeling of having to keep up with the jones’ leads to anxiety.
The Beauty of Social Media
On the other hand, social media allows us to connect with others in more meaningful ways than ever! We can get updated on friends and loved ones at a glance of our feeds. We can never forget another birthday again. We can share our stories in masse. We can find people with similar values and outlooks from all around the world. There are some great things social media offers us.
When we use social for its intended purpose, to connect, our lives are enriched.
I experienced the beauty of social media last week. My dear Uncle is a truck driver and lives in NY. He was recently driving his big rig and suffered a stroke and multiple heart attacks on the freeway, in Cleveland. He is currently in a coma and they have discovered he has a brain tumor. I first heard about it because my Aunt posted the story. My first response was obviously to call her and offer my prayers and support.
Thanks to social media, my Aunt and cousins have been able to receive an outpouring of love, both emotional and financial, since this happened. They set up a go fund me page to cover the medical costs and costs of travel to go see him, as this happened in Cleveland and they live in NY, so dealing with something like this when your husband and Father is out of state is a financial problem as well as an emotional one. My Aunt is using social to update everyone on my Uncle’s condition daily and in this way we can empathize with her and know what to pray for.
To me, this is a beautiful way social media can positively impact our lives and the lives of others through us. How do we ensure our time on social media is more meaningful and less depressing?
Practical Solutions to Make Your Social Media More Meaningful
Turning The Camera Outward
One simple thing we can do is turn the camera outward more often. Selfies are fun to take and share but the more we turn the camera on ourselves, the less we see of the world. The more people see us instead of what inspires us, the more inclined they may be to compare themselves to us and the worse they may feel.
Think of the best selfie you ever took, has your life changed because you got so many likes on it? Did you change anyone else’s life by sharing it?
But what about the most beautiful photo you shared of a sunset or a place you visited or a kindness you witnessed? That likely inspired people to slow down, take in their day, be better or go more.
Part of the beauty of social is sharing the world through our lens. What do we see and find beautiful? What do we find funny? Where do we find joy? The more we share our worlds through our lens, the more meaningful our social media time will become.
More of others, less of self is a great rule of thumb for making social meaningful.
Change What You’re Checking For
When it comes to checking our social feeds, what are we checking for? Likes? Follows? Shares?
An easy way to make your social media time more meaningful is to make it a goal to look for at least one person you can help through your social feed each day.
Whether that’s a quick word of encouragement to someone who is down or a physical need you can help fill for someone who is sick or a go fund me page you feel inclined to contribute to. Scan your feed for someone to help.
In 2005, a Sydney man by the name of Sebastian Terry lost one of his close friends and to cope with his grief, he started a bucket list of 100 things he wanted to do before he died.
#26 on his list was to “help a stranger”. He ended up ticking #26 off his list by pushing a man in a wheelchair through a half marathon. That changed everything for him.
All of a sudden, his bucket list took on way more meaning than just accomplishing crazy things before he died. It became about helping people. He now uses his website, 100things.com, as a forum to help other people check things off their lists and raises money for great causes in the meantime.
Social can be a means we change the world around us. Next time you’re in line at the grocery store or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or on the Subway and just checking your social feeds to pass the time, think about scanning them for someone you can help instead of passively consuming them.
As we begin to turn our social feeds into outward vehicles instead of inward vehicles, we will set ourselves free from the trap of measuring our worth by likes and follows. Instead, our personal platforms will give us greater meaning and purpose.
Someone needs encouragement.
Someone needs prayer
Someone needs a real friend.
Look for that someone. Be that encouragement. Be that prayer support. Be that friend. To someone. Today.
Then at the end of your life, that 5 years and 4 months spent on social will not have been wasted, but will have had great meaning.
Welcome to Honey & Figs! I’m Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.
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