Scrolling through Instagram or Snapchat, do you feel your life is boring? While on Twitter or Facebook, do you feel overwhelmed by news, both good and bad?
Are you able to spend several hours without checking your social media or would you feel like you missed out?
Do you find that when you go on your phone to check a message or email, you end up on social media unintentionally?
If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, it’s time to tidy up your social media.
Excessive Social Media is Dangerous
Social media could be ruining your life. Seriously. It could be contributing to higher rates of depression, lower self-worth and increased narcissism (Bergagna & Tartalglia, 2018).
It might also be increasing your stress and affecting your sleep (Van, Baumgartner & Sumter, 2019). From an Islamic perspective, the Prophet (peace be upon him) regularly warned of the danger of wasting time. It opens the doors to Satan’s tricks.
So How Do You Tidy Up Your Social Media?
The following tips will help you get started.
1 – Deactivation!
We’ll start with the most radical suggestion. You may take it or you may not, but consider which social media apps/accounts you use the least OR which social media does more harm than good. Then, truly consider deactivating your account. It will be one less concern to have.
2 – Think about your “whys”
Why do you spend time on social media? Is it to for your business account? To keep up with distant friends/family? To stay up to date with relevant news?
Then think about whether those whys can be accomplished in other ways that encourage less social media usage.
3 – Eliminate your morning social media binge
If you wake up and reach for your phone to scroll on Instagram… STOP! Instead, stop your alarm, make your morning du’aa’ and then get up. Make your bed, wash your face, make breakfast and brush your teeth.
The effects I described above are apparent from the moment you click that app and that is not the way you want to start your day. This tip is especially important if you are someone who wakes up with feelings of stress or anxiety.
Let the morning time be your chance to accomplish tasks to make you feel ready for the day rather than consuming yourself with information.
4 – Remember, we will be held accountable for what we watch
At times it feels like we’ve forgotten that Allah will hold us accountable for our social media activity. So if you’re serious about tidying up, do yourself a favor and delete questionable posts.
And if your social media homepage is an endless list of inappropriate photos, backbiting, cursing and other sin, then consider deleting the account altogether and making a new one. Couple this action with tawbah (repentance). You’ll be doing your dunya and akhira a favor.
5 – Check your social media usage on your phone
Apple has a productivity tool on the iPhone that assesses your screen time then divides the time between the apps you use.
Other phones may require a third party app but it is helpful in giving objective feedback about how much time you actually spend on your phone.
Is the majority of your screen time spent on social media? Are you spending 2, 4, 6 or even 8 hours on social media? What else can that time be spent doing? Do you spend that amount of time actually reaching out to friends you see on social media?
6 – Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow!
The art of unfollowing deserves an article to itself but tidying up your social media means getting rid of clutter. So unfollow and unfriend the clutter.
Unfollow/unfriend anyone who makes you feel unconfident or inadequate from models, CEOs to toxic friends.
Unfollow accounts that are clogged with lewd or insensitive content, including posts clogged with sexual innuendos, curse words, racist remarks, or promoting haram actions.
And lastly, unfollow accounts that suck you in for hours with endless videos and posts.
7 – Follow responsibly
Follow accounts that provide true value to your life. First off, make sure you’re following a few Islamic accounts run by knowledgeable content creators. Islamic article websites like About Islam, Virtual Mosque, and The Muslim Vibe offer beneficial content regularly on their social media.
Aside from Islamic content, follow accounts that motivate you toward life goals be it fitness, productivity, or accounts about your area of trade or study.
Stay out of the rabbit hole of following “experts” where you’ll find yourself cluttering your “following” list again!
8 – Get into the habit of intermittent social media fasts.
Notice the trends in your mental, emotional and spiritual health and your intake of social media. And be brave enough to step away for however long you need to.
I recently took one month off of social media and noticed an incredible increase in available time. When you plan these fasts, have a plan of what to do with your free time or you’re more likely to relapse.
This includes spending time with loved ones, reading, getting important work done, learning a skill or diving back into an old hobby.
So Now What?
We all can admit that the addictive nature of social media isn’t healthy for us. We can all benefit from stepping back.
I hope these tips help you become more productive, mentally healthy and conscious of what media we consume so that we can grow our relationship with ourselves and Allah.