Most of us probably spend more time than we’d care to admit on social media. It’s easy to get lost exploring the never-ending depths of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, seeking out that next tantalising meme, animal gif, avocado snap, or politically charged post.

 Whether you like it or not, we exist in a connected world, so social media is here to stay. And that’s no bad thing, as there’s something to be said for living in an age when we can connect with our friends and family at the drop of a hat, and maybe even make a few new acquaintances along the way.

 Still, as much as social media platforms can be a force for positivity, they can also cause their fair share of stress. With that in mind, we’ve put together a brief post offering some tips on how you can be more mindful when you’re on social media.

 

Fact check

 twitter

One of the most obvious pieces of advice, particularly given the state of today’s tumultuous political climate, is this: don’t believe everything you see on social media.

We all know how it happens. You clock a headline or post that fits your own agenda, and you share it without actually reading the article or checking to see whether the reporting was up to scratch. I’ve done it, and I’m sure you have too, because in the one-click digital world it’s easy to forget to check that what you’re seeing is fact and not fiction.

But now more than ever it’s important we all spend more time at least trying to ensure we aren’t spreading misinformation and falsehoods. There’s no one to protect you on the internet, so it’s down to us to police ourselves and do our best to make sure we’re getting our information from reliable, well-sourced outlets. As a famous duo once said, the truth is out there.

 

Burst your bubble

 bubble

That leads me onto the next piece of advice: step outside of your social media bubble. Because if there’s another thing we’re all guilty of, it’s surrounding ourselves with people that share our perspective of the world.

 Those self-serving bubbles are more commonly referred to as “echo chambers,” as that’s exactly what they are – places for us to retreat and hear our own ideas bounced back as us. It’s easy to think you’re in the majority, or that your opinion reigns supreme, when everyone else is nodding along politely.

 So why not take the time to seek out some people with new and interesting perspectives? And I’m not just talking about politics here, because whether you’re an Instagrammer with a keen eye for art or a music-obsessed Tweeter, the only way to expand your horizons is by opening yourself up to new ideas. After all, life would be pretty boring is we all shared the same opinions.

Think before you post

 Think

When I was but a wee child, my Grandma always reminded me to “think before I speak.” She imparted those wise words because I was a cheeky little blighter who’d get himself into trouble with one wisecrack too many. Perhaps though, it’s a slice of advice that’s more relevant than ever.

 That’s because on social media we rarely do think before we post. All of the most popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter give us a way to instantly share our innermost thoughts without a care in the world.

 Whether it’s picking a fight with someone on Facebook, or sharing something without considering how it might make someone else feel, it’s worth pausing for a second or two before you hit that ‘post’ or ‘tweet’ button. Stop, think, and ask yourself ‘is this an accurate reflection of who I am?’

Take a breath

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Above all else, social media is the realm of instant gratification. A place where likes, shares, and retweets pay the metaphorical bills. In many ways, it’s the greatest popularity contest our planet has ever seen. Because lets face it, we all get a bit of a buzz when something we post does well.

 That why it can be hard to break the cycle, and escape the maelstrom of meaningless back-patting. Scroll. Like. Post. Scroll. Like. Post. It’s a rut that’s become second-nature to a lot of us, even though we know there’s better things we could be doing with our time.

 That’s why our last piece of advice is perhaps our most important: don’t forget to put your phone down and step outside. It sounds so simple, and yet how many of us actually do it? And by ‘step outside’ I don’t necessarily mean leave the house, although going for a stroll is definitely a good shout.

 What I mean is that you should make an effort to leave your social media sphere by doing something different. Something you enjoy. Read a book. Watch a movie. Write something. Chat with a friend over the phone, or meet up for a coffee. Doodle for ten minutes. Just pull yourself away for your phone for a second and find a way to work a little bit of joy into your daily routine.

 

Image source: Priscilla Cader / Husligheter / Ksenia Blog

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By Chris Kerr on 04.04.17

Guest Contributor

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