Social media addiction: What's acceptable, and what's not
As a generation, we can't stop scrolling.
We're addicted to clicking, watching, sharing, and continual checking on our smartphones.
It's the first and last thing many people now do in their bedroom each day, not to mention every other available opportunity at the bus stop, the cafe, or any sliver of free time during office hours.
Social media isn't going anywhere, and some degree of use is now expected in society. But what exactly is acceptable, what's not, and what can you do when something is bothering you?
OK: Checking your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds while you're waiting in line for your coffee and there's nobody you know to talk to.
NOT OK: Checking any of those feeds while you're having coffee with a friend or colleague.
WHAT TO DO: Don't click your fingers and say "my eyes are up here!" to snap somebody out of a socially-inappropriate scrolling session. Just say "shall we put our phones away so we can concentrate on each other?". The emphasis is on the "we" so you're not explicitly finger-wagging.
OK: Scrolling on your phone when you and your partner are cooking dinner (or similar home admin) and you're not actively required for a moment.
NOT OK: Double screening with Facebook when you're on the couch together watching Netflix.
WHAT TO DO: Create a "no phones" zone in your living room, so neither of you can sit and scroll when in the exclusive and dedicated company of the other. If you want to check your feeds, you have to be in another room.
OK: Taking photos when you're having a fun experience with friends and uploading them when the momentum dies down.
NOT OK: Snapchatting your way through something that's supposed to be enjoyable, and getting more pleasure out of sharing fuzzy photos about an experience than actually being there.
WHAT TO DO: When around obsessive Snapchatters, throw shade at Snapchat because it's childish, making your company feel guilty about using it.
OK: Checking your social media feeds when you wake up, to see what happened in the world overnight.
NOT OK: Getting a feeling of anxiety when you haven't checked social media for an hour, for fear of missing out on something.
WHAT TO DO: Delete social media apps on your phone, and only check your social networks on your desktop. Access and opportunity is more than half of the problem.
OK: Enjoying the way your smartphone feels in your hand, as if it's a security blanket, in case something happens and somebody needs to get hold of you.
NOT OK: Treating every tag notification or @mention as breaking news that requires immediate attention.
WHAT TO DO: Turn off notifications so the only alerts you get on your phone are phone calls and texts, and everything else waits until you physically log on and browse.
OK: Checking your social media feeds at lunchtime.
NOT OK: Having social media tabs open at work all day long, so you never miss a thing.
WHAT TO DO: Get a web browser extension such as StayFocusd that allows you to chose which time-wasting websites to block for certain hours of the day.
OK: Messaging a friend when they reveal on their page that they've become engaged, are pregnant, bought a house, or got a new job.
NOT OK: Feeling envious of a friend because their life is better than yours and it's unfair.
WHAT TO DO: Take a deep breath and try to realise that nobody posts their worst moments online, only their best – and that's all you see.
OK: Checking a read receipt on a message to ensure it went through.
NOT OK: Looking obsessively at the time somebody was last active and wondering why they're ignoring you.
WHAT TO DO: Understand that some people read messages, acknowledge them internally, and make a mental note to reply sometime in the upcoming hours/days when they have something to say back.
OK: Sharing a photo of yourself when you're all glammed up for an event or big night out, and feeling your fanciest.
NOT OK: Spending several hours setting up a shot, editing it, and posting it as if you always look like that on a Tuesday.
WHAT TO DO: Instead of selfies, always have somebody else snap your picture on your phone. The angles and lighting are always better, and you only have a couple of chances to get the shot right.
OK: Getting excited when you post something on social media and the news goes down really well with your friends/followers.
NOT OK: Getting anxious and taking a post down because it doesn't get enough likes.
WHAT TO DO: Practice "Mindful social media" by understanding the intentions of every post and notice your emotional responses.