How To Use Social Media Without Losing Control
Let’s talk about how to use social media without losing control of your time, and how to make it something that’s actually useful for you.
My Social Media Background
I was on Facebook back in 2006. I was still on MySpace at the time. And then I joined Facebook and it was great. I got to connect with people I hadn’t spoken to in years.
At that time, you still needed a work or university email address to join. So you couldn’t join with a free Gmail or Hotmail address.
There were no pages, no ads, no clickbait. And you could also see your friend’s posts when they showed up. It’s not like their algorithm was hiding everything.
And you could poke people and comment on people’s posts and some of you will remember, you could throw virtual sheep at people.
And to be fair, from that point with social media, things did get a bit more… I’m going to say it got better. You had Twitter emerge, you had YouTube emerge, and Instagram in its early days was also absolutely awesome.
And then one by one for each network, the quality and enjoyability just kind of dropped off a cliff. I think that happened around 2013 for me and Facebook.
Twitter, maybe 2014.
Instagram probably around 2016 when it changed its algorithm.
TikTok I still enjoy scrolling.
Pinterest I have a specific purpose I use it for.
And YouTube, I’m kind of good with managing my time on, so I find it quite helpful as well.
Why It Is Easy To Lose Control Of Your Time On Social Media
In general terms, it’s quite easy to drain away your time or drain away your life by just endlessly scrolling on social media. They are designed to hook you in and not let you click away or encourage you to not click away.
And that’s the reason why a lot of them allow infinite scrolling. They don’t have an end to their feeds.
It’s not ideal for your mental or physical health. So let’s look at how you can make social media an actually useful tool for you.
Make Social Media Useful Again
Have A Purpose For Each App
And I think the main thing is to have a purpose or specific usage for each social media app or each social network that you’re on.
So if I look at the ones I’m on.
- Facebook, I need it for work. I do a lot of Facebook ads and Facebook business manager, and it also allows me to keep in touch with all my relatives who aren’t on other networks.
- Instagram. I need it for ads. And out of all the social networks, it seems to be the best for building my email list. And I haven’t started using reels yet so I can’t really comment on that.
- Twitter, just no. (EDIT: This has actually changed since I wrote this post – I have found a community on Twitter that I fit into well)
- Pinterest. I know to go to, when I’m looking for specific recipes or design inspiration or something like that.
- YouTube I use because I post on YouTube so I actually need to make sure that my videos come through. And I also use it a lot for background music so when I’m working and also for ambient noise is when I’m sleeping. So I have this specific purpose that I use it for.
- TikTok’s probably the only one that I use just for fun because I enjoy it.It’s funny. The users are very creative and their algorithm probably seems the best out of all of them at the moment.
So pretty much all of them have some specific purpose.
Put Some Barriers Between You And The Habit Of Opening An App
While I do still have a habit of just picking up my phone and opening my social media apps, I’ve been working actively on breaking that habit and it doesn’t happen anywhere near as much as it used to.
There are two things I did to help me with that.
Number one. I switched off Face ID on my phone, so that means I actually have to enter my passcode to unlock it. It is just an extra step so is more conscious than unlocking with Face ID.
Number two is that I have my apps in a folder, within a folder, within a folder.
That means not only do I have to enter my passcode to unlock it, but then I actually have to deliberately go through three separate clicks to actually get to the screen where my apps are.
So it has to be very deliberate when I’m opening these apps.
Catch Yourself If You Can
I’ve also gotten better at catching myself when I’m starting to use an app, not for the purpose I had designated it for. If I find myself doing that then I’ll close the app. And if I find the app is no longer serving its purpose, then I’ll delete it from my phone.
Facebook, for example, everything I need to do can be done on desktop and with ads, especially it’s much easier to do on desktop.
Pinterest. I’ve never used the app and I’ll just go to it for specific reasons on my desktop.
Tik Tok and Instagram are both mobile-native. So I do need to keep them on my phone.
YouTube, I use overnight. So rather than having my laptop open, it’s easier for me just to have the app open on my phone. And when I say overnight, I mean, I have my screen covered. I just have the background noise playing.
Keep Notifications Off
For pretty much every social media app, my notifications stay off.
I’m not going to be needlessly pinged or get distracted at random intervals. I’m fully in control of when I check notifications.
Social Media Can Still Be Useful If You Use It Right
I guess what I’m saying is social media can still be a useful tool despite how toxic it seems to have become in recent years.
The platforms are designed to keep you on as long as possible because that’s how they earn revenue.
Have a specific purpose for each app or network you use or you’re on.
Make it a conscious or deliberate process for you to open each app.
If you find yourself using an app for a purpose, you didn’t intend it for and don’t want to use it for then maybe it’s time to delete the app.
In a lot of cases, most things can be done on a desktop or through another workaround. So you don’t need to carry that distraction around with you all day.