Last week I published the first of two posts called, “8 Rules To Keep You Happy & Healthy Online.” The idea came as the result of a recent month-long sabbatical that I took from social media.
You can read the first post here, but if you want a quick peek at the first four “rules” they are:
- Set self-imposed time restraints
- Avoid arguing
- Don't gripe
- Don't compare yourself to others
But I was able to come up with more than just four rules that can keep you happy and healthy online. Here are the remaining four rules that I'm trying to implement in my life.
Rule 5: Manage your notifications
One of the problems I have with social media is that I'm constantly interrupted at all hours of the day with beeps and bings. I find myself running and picking up my phone to see who just followed me, who liked a tweet, who sent an IM, or who commented on a recent blog post. If you are also active on apps like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Slack, WhatsApp, and SnapChat, it can be overwhelming.
Thankfully, all of these platforms allow their users to set and manage notifications based on several factors. For example, I'm guessing you don't need to be notified every time someone comments on one of your comments on Facebook. However, you might want to be notified if someone sends an IM (unless you receive a lot of these).
At first, managing your notifications can be daunting, but it's a helpful process to help keep you happy and healthy online.
Rule 6: Trim your friends list
Unless your social media accounts are meant to bring in business, it's a good idea to thin out your online friends every so often. Many of the people that I have friended or followed are simply acquaintances that I only know for a limited amount of time—do I really need to see photos of their desserts or nephews when I don't have a real friendship with them? The answer is no.
When I first started unfollowing people I felt terrible–like I was losing friends or something. But honestly, these are people that I A) had never met in person, or B) hadn't seen in, like, 5 years.
Culling my friends list allows actual updates from my real friends to rise to the surface of my feeds. It's so much more enjoyable to interact with people that I have a real relationship with.
Rule 7: Stay positive
I know this seems like a repeat of rule 2, but it's that important. Yes, I'm talking to you, keyboard warrior! I know that you are sure you can solve all of the geopolitical problems by posting a scathing rebuttal to the latest Breitbart or CNN piece but honestly, does it make you feel better or does it just create a continued sense of injustice and bitterness in your life?
The Internet connected just about everyone in the civilized world, but at the same time, that connection is only virtual. When we are behind our keyboards, we tend to forget that the people we target with our words are human souls too.
What did your grandmother always tell you? “If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.” She probably didn't grow up with the internet, and she's right.
Rule 8: Don't wake up with your social media
You might be surprised how many Americans admit that the very first thing they do in the morning is to check their phones. Okay, maybe you wouldn't be surprised.
According to Business Insider, checking your phone first thing in the morning might be the very thing that makes you unhappy.
When we wake up in the morning and turn our phone over to see a list of notifications, it frames the experience of waking up in the morning around a menu of all the things I've missed since yesterday.
-Tristan Harris, Former Design Ethicist at Google
I know it's tempting but the best way to have a good day is to have an excellent start to your day. Tweets, texts, headlines, and comments can all wait until after your other important morning routines. Instead, start your morning right. Prayer, meditation or exercise are all great ways to get your day headed in the right direction.
Just so you know, I wrote this because social media is a big challenge for me. I don't have it all figured out, but I'm working on it. Give these ideas a try and let me know how it goes. Also, if you have unique ideas on how to stay happy and healthy online let me know. I would love to hear from you.