It’s 11pm, I should be writing an assignment or doing the million of things on my to-do list but no, like most evenings I’ve found myself doing the daily marathon going from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram etc, scrolling the next hour of my life away. Pure procrastination to get away from my essay, there are plenty of other things I could be doing with my time. But it made me think about my own use of social media. For those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll remember my two old posts about a similar topic from over two years ago. Social media has changed so much since then and our reliance on it has only grown.
Technology has grown as I’ve grown up. Seeing the ten-year challenge this week made me think back to ten years ago (I will spare you with the photo, it’s not pretty). Ten years ago I was in Year 7 with my first ‘proper’ phone that wasn’t a brick. I didn’t use Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. I spoke to my friends on MSN after school (throwback or what). As I grew through school iPhones started to come in, there was a realisation that you could now download games on phones thanks to Android, we started using Facebook more, your Nintendo DS Lite wasn’t so cool anymore, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp came in. I watched YouTubers but had no idea about the lucrative industry that was only growing and the work that goes on behind the scenes. It wasn’t until I discovered PR that my mind was opened to it all – you could call me naive. Ten years ago I didn’t rely this much on technology and social media.
I know how much I rely on social media, I’m no idiot. I know how much time I spent on it – now even your iPhone can tell you how many hours you’ve spent scrolling through Instagram in one day, that’s pretty scary. It’s hard not to be slightly addicted to checking social media. Bored? Check social media. Long car ride? Social media. Awkward situation? Check your phone. The list is endless, it has become something with such a place in our lives. On the one hand, it helps us keep in touch with our loved ones – to be fair, I find out most things about friends via social media, it is just the way it is. But on the other side, I feel like sometimes I live through social media. ‘Oh, that would make a cute Instagram story‘ ‘Oh that place would look cute on Instagram‘. It’s a sad reality but sometimes even I do think like that. Over placement, I had to be on Instagram for work too so you can only imagine the amount of time I spent scrolling – I don’t actually want to think about that.
With all of its benefits, I would go as far as saying it does stop you from living in the moment sometimes. Do your followers need to know this instant that your food looks like that or it’s snowing outside the office? Probably not, but you can bet I’ll share it just incase. And you can bet I know all of this too. I still do it. Whenever I go somewhere pretty or out with friends you can guarantee it will be on my Instagram story. I treat mine as almost my online scrapbook of my life, little snippets. I love looking back at the memories saved and what I’ve been up to. And that is such a lovely thing to be able to look back. It isn’t all bad, I just know that I use it all a little too much.
The thing is, there has always been things like this in life, it’s just in a different format to what it was in our parents day – that’s the society we live in. We are living differently to our parents, we are in a digital age. My Mum actually uses social media to see what I’ve been up to….
You do have to be careful, it is the best part of people’s lives and what they want you to see, in the way they want you to see it. Only the other day I saw an influencer show a before and after of how she used to edit her photos of herself and it does make you think. Then not long after I read an article about influencers still not being completely transparent with their content. I am most interested in how this will shape PR. I absolutely loved working in influencer marketing on placement and running an Instagram channel but with consumers becoming more clued up, regulations tightening and a huge number of influencers I can’t help but be curious on where the industry will be in another ten years. What will happen to print? Will we still be influenced by influencers or will there be a whole new ball game for PR to play in?
It does me think and the digital landscape is something that will forever fascinate me. I’ve learnt to take social media with a pinch of salt.
So here are some tips, mainly to cut down on my social media use over the next few weeks:
Apple Screen Time.
A new feature on Apple devices allows you to set time limits for apps and schedule ‘down time’ to limit time spent on your phone. It also produces daily and weekly summaries of how you’ve been using your phone and where you’ve been spending the most time. Scary stuff. It is a good way of keeping yourself on track and usage down.
Try offline activities, like picking up a book instead of your phone.
It’s so easy to pick up your phone when you’re bored/procrastinating but there are plenty of other things that you could do at the same time. Maybe try picking up a book or ticking something off the to-do list?
Deactivate channels during important times.
I know quite a lot of people have done this recently at University. I’m not sure how I’d cope deactivating mine….it would make me more productive though….
Think twice before posting – are you with others, does it need to be posted?
When you next go to post, take a moment to think, do you really need to put it up? Does your meal need to have a picture taken before you eat it? Do you need to tweet that rant?
Remember nothing is completely as it seems.
This one speaks for itself!
So here’s to getting through the next few months of uni using social media less…!