The internet is ubiquitous: I think we can all agree on that. It’s also pervasive; there’s almost nothing we don’t Google these days, and most of us have multiple social media platforms, the top three being Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. But some of us use Pinterest or Tumblr or some other micro-blogging platform to organize our interests and our to-dos.
Most often, the internet is both a distraction and a crutch. Sure, there are so many inherently useful things about being connected to the internet, especially on a smartphone. You have built-in GPS and directions so you’ll never get lost, you can connect to friends and family who live thousands of miles away with just a few taps, emergencies are made a little less worrisome when you can reach others quickly, and you can make announcements to hundreds of friends and acquaintances instantaneously.
But you also depend on this device for everything: for entertainment in the form of listicles, updated photos, other people’s exciting life news, actual current events, and celebrity gossip. Toting around a smartphone all the time is also distancing from the real world, to the point where social media places a filter (pun intended) between you and your life.
I’m not saying you have to turn off completely, because honestly, I couldn’t even do it myself. But if you find that you’re using social media/the internet/your smartphone too much, try these things to pare down and still get the most from your connectivity.
Hide people who annoy you
On Facebook, the main complaint is of our friends whose posting habits we’re constantly annoyed by. Whether they’re oversharing, sharing things that are boring, or causing controversy by posting unnecessary opinions, one way to immediately be happier with your news feed is to hide those people who are peeving you.
That way, you’ll only see the positive stuff, the things that you’re interested in, and the people whom you’d actually like to keep up with. All the rest is gone, and you don’t even have to unfriend. (In case that’s too much confrontation.)
Follow a lot of publications, and not just People magazine
If you’re constantly checking Facebook, make sure it’s worth your time. Follow actual news outlets like The New York Times and make sure your interests are represented: publications like Vogue and Vanity Fair are both top of my list. That way, instead of reading the ramblings of friends and co-workers, you’ll be able to stay engaged with the world, keep up to date, and read things you’re truly interested in.
Isn’t that the point of the internet—that it’s so easy to stay connected to what’s going on? Use Facebook as a resource instead of for mindless scrolling.
Stop stalking past exes and old friends
There’s something called Facebook Envy, and it’s real. It’s the phenomenon that people are less satisfied with their lives because they see friends and acquaintances doing awesome things on social media and they feel inadequate in comparison. You should know that Facebook Envy shouldn’t affect you, because we’re all putting our best faces forward online and hiding all the ugly stuff.
But if it really does affect your happiness and well being, especially when you find something about your exes that you’d have rather not seen, please, just unfriend them or unfollow them and don’t look back. Focus on yourself and on posting lovely things for others to be jealous of! Just don’t engage yourself. By doing this, you’ll virtually eliminate all the worst parts of being connected.
Don’t read the comments
This is a true statement for any internet writer, but it also holds true for anyone online. The comments section is where people want to push buttons, make other people mad, and have a platform for their outrageous ideas and offensive opinions. It’s not a happy place. You’ll either get angry or at the very least, waste a lot of precious time. Just don’t do it, promise?
Stop opening Instagram and Twitter a million times a day
I am totally guilty of this. A free second sees me opening Instagram and furiously waiting for just one new ‘gram, but why? It’s so much less ridiculously stressful to stop opening these apps until later, when you can see everything at once and stop placing so much importance on it. The internet can suck your time and motivation away, with one simple tweet.
Get a brain-sharpening game or app and use that instead
If you use your phone as entertainment during your off time, get a game or a fun app that will keep your wits sharp. That way, the time spent on your phone won’t be wasted reading about what Miley Cyrus did that day. And you’ll still quench your smartphone thirst. Better yet—download a few books into your never-used iBooks app.
Go airplane mode for a few hours every day
If you simply can’t resist the siren call of your smartphone, turn it on airplane mode and put it somewhere you won’t be tempted to check the screen every four minutes: like even in a pocket or on the other side of your desk. It’ll be there, but it’ll be useless. Tell your friends and family that if they need to get in touch with you, to use your extension or work email.