IRL. An acronym we didn't need before the birth of social media 14 years ago. IRL stands for In Real Life.
Social media has allowed humanity to expand its reach, network and connection. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook have allowed people to initiate discussions that were taboo and kept hidden for decades. There is a certain comfort knowing that the whole world can be your friend and support your beliefs.
Just like any good thing - cake, ice cream, fame and wealth - it is vital to stay grounded and prevent losing yourself in the indulgence.
These days it seems like more people exist online, rather than IRL. It's a great way to hide from yourself and create detrimental habits without even noticing.
Here are three tips to hack the formation of bad habits social media can create in us all:
1. Avoid The Twitch and Create Room for Focus
When you constantly refresh your screen in search of something, anything to distract you - stimulation, news, excitement, gossip - a long term twitch can develop.
Here is what 'the twitch' feels like: an empty second and sometimes even micro-half second simply become intolerable. Every moment needs to be filled and you cannot simply focus on one task. There is a constant need for multi-tasking. This is 'the twitch.' You can now think of 'the twitch' as artificial, self-enabled ADD.
Solution: Only check social media (or email) when you need to check versus when you have a twitch. Sooner or later you will realize that if you check your social media accounts once or twice a day instead of once a minute you don't really miss out on much.
In fact, you have more time for your own thoughts that can lead to unique ideas and creativity in each day. This increases productivity and decreases stress and restlessness.
2. Let Go of External Praise and Develop Internal Validation
Each one of us has a crack where slippery things can get in to negatively affect our self worth.
Just the other day, a woman I work with was deeply saddened because Facebook memories had come up on her feed to remind her where she was last year at this time. It has been a year that she's been mourning the loss of a relationship and now Facebook was here to remind her (sigh, again).
Too many people I know are fixated on followers, likes, and engagement on their personal social media profiles. The very features that allow people to stay connected with other people on social media, can also become a means to get down on yourself for no reason.
Hack: It all starts with the very first moment you post something with the intention of getting noticed.
If you only choose to post from a place of wanting to share yourself, instead of getting likes... you will notice that you are less dependent on online praise and more reliant on the feeling of your own experiences in each moment in real life (IRL).
Over time, you will have a deeper sense of internal validation with your own heart as the source and less attachment to online presence.
3. Life is Long, Not Short. Make Wise Decisions
You can definitely choose to make decisions from a place of FOMO (fear of missing out) or YOLO (you only live once) and it might even be exhilarating, for a moment. It's important to remember that you do only live once and that your life is actually long (hopefully), not short.
Ask yourself if you would be proud to share your post even in 5 or 10 years from now. Ask yourself if you would want your future children or grandchildren to read and see what you are posting. When you engage with other people on their feed, are you burning or building bridges?
If an employer were to review your social media profiles across all the platforms you are active on, are they seeing the same person? Life is too long to sustain multiple personalities. Don't create a trap for yourself.
Impulsive behavior and a lack of social boundaries online can weaken your interpersonal skills in real life. Life is too long to be left without meaningful, intimate relationships.
When you engage with social media while you stay grounded in your real life, you aren't just relieving yourself of bad habits, you are doing everyone in your life a favor. The people in your life want to be with you in your entirety, undistracted and right here, in real life.