Our prophet recently challenged the youth to take a 7-day break from social media. Many listened to his challenge. The response was immediate and strong. We’d love to hear what positive changes happened in your family as a result (please comment below).
A social media reset is sometimes needed to break addictions, to be more present to the Spirit, find balance and to tune more into people and other things in life. But what’s next? The most important thing to do is not to go back to how you used social media before. Instead, try to be more deliberate in how you use it. Here are 10 quick tips to help you use social media to be and/or amplify the good.
1. End your fast with a prayer
When we fast once a month we usually break our fast with a prayer. We can do the same with a social media fast to ask for guidance to help you use it wisely. Social media can be a powerful tool for good and especially to be an example or even a missionary. You can ask for opportunities to help others and be led to any posts from friends or others who are hurting.
2. Interact with the positive in order to see more of the positive
One thing to remember is there’s a pattern to social media. The more you interact with good messages and posts, the more good you see. If you view pornographic images and interact with negative things online, the more you’ll see of it. Literally, it follows you around. So if the photos, ads, and posts you’re seeing are not uplifting stop reacting to it. Actively comment, like, and share with friends or other content you want more of and you’ll see more of it.
Since I sell mattresses online I go to a lot of bedding-related websites. So I see ads for mattresses and bedding on Facebook and Instagram. What you see is a reflection of what you look at. What are you seeing?
3. Actively seek to lift others
The unique thing about social media is people often reveal what they’re thinking about in a more candid way than they’d tell you face to face. It gives you a chance to serve them, cheer them on or be a support to them. If your friend is having a tough time or just has a big challenge ahead, immediately pray for them. See people bullying or being unkind? Stand up for the person being targeted. Friend people in your ward or those of all faiths.
4. Unfollow people or pages that aren’t uplifting
You shape your own social media experience—so if someone posting brings up feelings of inadequacies or jealousy, or if you find their language or photos offensive, unfollow/unfriend them so you don’t see their posts. Decide what you’ll let in and what you don’t want to let in. Many young women feel like they must reach an impossible level of perfection already. It doesn’t help to look at photos of women that have been airbrushed, posed just right or who’ve had surgery or other ways to achieve . Do a quick test on how it makes you feel and if it’s not good, unfollow. If you just need a break, Facebook has a snooze feature so you can stop seeing a specific person’s updates for a month.
4. Follow LDS Church social media sites or other spiritually-oriented pages
There are so many social media pages that can teach you, feed you spiritually, or just cheer you up. Be familiar with the Church’s social media sites. Ask friends for their favorites. I like following Middle-Aged Mormon Man and his Sunday night check-ins where you can share spiritual experiences you had at church. The My Life By Gogo Goff page has short gospel discussions. There are people of all faiths whose posts inspire. There are also educational and otherwise incredible people to follow – artists, photographers, and thinkers of all kinds.
5. Create good habits by doing the important things first
It’s so easy to start every day by grabbing your phone and getting on social media. Instead put God first by making a rule that you can’t get on social media until after you read your scriptures and say your morning prayer. Give yourself time and space to meditate and ponder.
6. Look for Ways to Do Good Online
There are so many ways you can do good online. You can talk about things others post when you see them in person. If they posted that their grandma is sick, ask how she is doing the next time you see them. Use social media to connect with others offline too. Each Christmas and Easter the LDS Church has a social media campaign that you can participate in. Watch for them and either share or interact with what they post so more of your friends will see it. Use the Spirit and be sensitive to the feelings you get from what you’re doing. Stay away from things like contention or gossip. \
7. Share the gospel
I have a friend I admire from another faith. She consistently posts photos of her church and what she’s doing with them. If they have a fundraiser, she posts about it. A service project, she shares a picture. A performance, etc. I’m inspired by all the things she’s involved in. You can authentically share things you do in the young men program or young women program, pioneer trek, stake activities, service projects, etc. Avoid overusing social media. Social media can kill productivity and take you away from real life experiences, but it’s tough to resist since it’s made to be addicting. You or your parents may want to use tools to limit how much time you spent online so it turns off automatically and you don’t accidentally waste hours on social media with nothing to show for it.
There are also monitoring tools your parents can install on your phone to be alerted if/when there’s a possible concern. Be careful not to be on social media when you’re with others (like on a date or with a group of friends), during church or times when it should be turned off. The 13th article of faith reads: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” If the things you see or do on social media aren’t these things, don’t seek after it. Turn it off. Uninstall. Disconnect. Disengage. The opposite is true too—engage, add, friend and otherwise seek what’s right.
What ways have you found to make social media uplifting?
Janet Thaeler @newspapergrl is an online marketer (blogger & mattress reviewer) who lives in South Ogden with her buff husband, kindergarten grad and high schooler. She’s the primary secretary in her ward and enjoys growing a garden and bicycling.