Let’s start with the truth.
Social media is dangerous.
It’s addictive, causes anxiety, and is operated by platforms who don’t act with your best interests at heart.
But that’s not the whole truth.
The truth is whether social media has a positive or negative impact on your life is determined by how you use it.
While many elements of social media are out of your control — the addictive user design of platforms, masses of people venting frustrations on it, and the world’s chaos unraveling one tweet at a time — you have more control over it than you realize.
Your social media experience is ultimately determined by you. But only if you actively manage your experience and don’t accept the negatives as an inevitable “bug” of the system.
Following are a few ways stop social media from driving you crazy — and for more tips about how to improve your work, art, or life check out my For The Interested newsletter.
1. Turn Off All Notifications
No dings when somebody likes your post.
No emails when somebody tags you in a photo.
No popups on your phone when you get a new follower.
If you allow social media platforms to send you notifications for every little thing that happens on them, you voluntarily give up control of your most valuable resource —time and attention.
Don’t outsource the decision of when you should check social media to companies whose main goal is to capture as much of your time as possible.
And while you’re at it, you might as well learn how to stop checking your phone so much.
2. Unfollow People
The fewer people you follow, the better your social media experience will become.
Never feel like you have to follow anybody.
Don’t give your attention to people who don’t deserve it or to people who bring you more anxiety than value.
Unfollow anybody who doesn’t post interesting, valuable stuff that makes you smarter, happier, or feel better.
Unfollow anybody who does things that stress you out — you don’t need to consume their political rants, trolling, or whatever other nonsense they post that drives you crazy.
Never follow anybody out of guilt. Just because somebody followed you, is related to you, or works with you, doesn’t mean you have to follow them back.
And if you’re uncomfortable ignoring their friend request, you can always accept it and then hide their posts from your feed so you won’t actually see them (don’t worry — they won’t know you’ve hidden them).
Your feed is your own party and there’s no reason to invite people to it who are going to ruin it.
3. Don’t Hate-Follow
If you follow people (or maybe a certain politician) who drives you crazy, stop it right now.
You can pretend you’re doing it because you “need to know what’s happening in the world,” but that’s an excuse — you’re actually hate-following that person because you’re addicted to the outrage of seeing what they share on social media.
It’s a BAD habit and the only way to curb it is to quit cold turkey.
Never follow people who anger you on a consistent basis and provide no actual positive value.
Stop staring at the car accident. Hit unfollow.
4. Use Your Likes, Comments, And Shares Wisely
All social platforms are driven by algorithms which means what you see in your feed is determined by what the algorithm thinks you will enjoy.
The algorithms base those decisions on what you’ve engaged with in the past. Your current behavior determines your future feed.
This means every like, comment, and share you deliver sends a signal to the platform about what kind of content you’d like to see moving forward. Keep this in mind as you engage with posts.
Don’t “like” posts you don’t actually like just to be nice or out of habit because doing so will show you more posts like the one you don’t actually like.
Don’t share articles that aren’t the kind you want to see more of.
And especially don’t engage with content that drives you crazy or else you’ll get a lot more content that will drive you crazier.
5. Social Media Doesn’t Have To Be A Debate
Most people driven crazy by social media feel that way in part because they spend a bunch of time debating things on social media.
That’s a choice. And a bad one.
If debating important (or non-important) things on social media doesn’t bring you joy, then stop doing it.
This is a perfect example of something that’s easy to blame the platforms for, but is actually 100% in your own control.
6. You Don’t Have To Use Every Platform
One of the biggest things that drives creators and businesses crazy about social media is the feeling they have to use every platform at all times.
First of all, you don’t need to be on any platform at any time.
Social media creates opportunities, but it’s far from the only way to create opportunities. Plenty of people and companies succeed without it.
But more importantly, if you do use social media for work, what’s the assumption that you need to be on multiple platforms really based on?
It suggests there’s not enough audience on any one platform for you to successfully grow your audience and build your business.
No matter what you do or who you are, do you really think you can’t find enough customers on Instagram alone? Do you really think you couldn’t possibly find a big enough audience to support you on Twitter alone?
These platforms all have massive scale — you couldn’t ever run out of people to reach on any of them even if you tried.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with using multiple platforms, but don’t feel you have to and don’t drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with all of it.
There are no shortage of fish in any of these seas.
7. You’ll Get Out Of Social Media What You Put Into It
If you take nothing else away from this post, take this simple point.
Your experience with social media is a direct reflection of what you put into it. You will get the audience and experience you deserve.
If you use it to rant, share negativity, criticize, and complain, then that’s what you’ll get back from it. If you use it in a way that drives you crazy, it will drive you crazy.
But if you instead use it to share value, positivity, connection, and help others, then that’s what you’ll get.
Social media can be an incredibly positive force…or it can drive you crazy.
It’s up to you.