Let’s face it, social media is pretty intense during the holiday season. Whether it’s lengthy and predictable Twitter drama, the ridiculous amounts of showboating statuses on Facebook, or even some sick pics from your favorite Instagram influencer — everyone seems to be online.
Although the fear of missing out can sometimes keep us logged on a little longer than necessary, here are a few pointers on why we should all cut down or get off social media during the holidays. You’ll also find a number of tips on how to do so.
Break Out of The Echo Chamber & Speak to Your Family
In case you didn’t know, most search engine sites and social apps optimize their content to your needs based on your likes, friends and demographics. Around the holidays, this content is specifically geared towards your interests, which with prolonged use can enforce the effect of the echo chamber.
In a filter bubble, the information you engage with constantly mirrors back to you, in a self-affirming cycle. This often this means you only engage with a small scope of the online social world, which in turn means you’re never subjected to contradictory viewpoints.
Instead, try to stay away from social media and speak to family members (and old school friends) who have a different world view to your own. You may not bring them around to your way of thinking, but it will allow you to see things from their point of view and, if nothing else, help strengthen your counter arguments.
It’s Designed to be Addictive
Nearly all social media apps are designed to be addictive. Researchers and marketing experts spend a lot of time thinking of the perfect color scheme, layout and interfaces to make sure you stay online for longer, effectively making it even harder for you to quit.
With increased use comes an increase risk of mental health issues (which we’ll get to below) and exposure to ads, the latter of which certainly won’t help your wallet during the festive season. To save yourself from the overly polished Christmas cheer, start by deleting apps that you don’t use that much and then disable notifications on apps that you do use. If you still don’t trust yourself, there’s always app blockers to help you keep focused.
Low Self-Esteem & Mental Health
In an interview with NBC, Apple CEO Tim Cook remarked that media tools are slowly manipulating and dividing people with its influence. That followed countless studies reporting how social media, and in particular Instagram, negatively effect our mental health. The Royal Society for Public Health (UK) also ranks Instagram as the worst social media platform for mental health, in large part due to the image-focused nature of the app.
In that regard, it’s important that real and achievable goals are set away from the internet. We can’t all be Gully Guy Leo, but we can try to be our best selves in any field or discipline in which we apply ourselves. The results of such are likely to far outlive the success of any online following.
False Sense of Accomplishments
Granted, success comes in many different forms, but rarely are they shared online without expectation of public approval. Just because you have a certain number of followers or likes, doesn’t mean you’ve achieved anything. That may sound pedantic or obvious, but with every like received our brains get a dopamine rush telling us we have, in fact, accomplished something.
For your own good, stay away from media and holiday hype and set yourself some real-life short and long-term goals (which we’ll get to shortly). It pays to chart your own progress, so by all means dedicate time to celebrate your achievements, but maybe go without the need for comparison or appraisal.
Spend Time Working on Your Business or Personal Project
Social media can be a great place to network, but it’s also a vortex into stagnation and procrastination. Over the holidays, it may be a good idea to get back to ideas you’ve left on the back burner or go all the way back to square one and rethink the path you’re going down.
Whatever your business plan is, don’t share it with anyone before you’ve even planned it. Put pen to paper and learn as you go.
Make an Overall Lifestyle Change
It’s one thing to quit for the holidays but it’s another to make changes in your life for good. Consuming less social media could prove quite beneficial in boosting productivity, if not making the most of opportunities available in your day-t0-day life.
If you’re ready for a break, introduce routines that not only keep you physically engaged but mentally stimulated such as exercise, reading or even planning events.
All-in-all, it may be difficult to completely escape the highly curated space that is social media, but its the smallest of changes that are likely to produce the biggest results.