You’re mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, laughing at pictures from golden retrievers trying to catch balls. Behind this innocent activity, there’s a company that is tracking all of your moves and planning to use this information against you. At least this is the argument that The Netflix Social Dilemma documentary is making. It’s partially true.
This documentary ramps up the fear to 100. In part, I can’t blame them. Documentaries tend to do better when they take a strong position instead of trying to show the positives of both sides. You can see the same thing in any diet documentary that is trying to explain why their diet is the best and only approach to weight loss.
However, don’t let fear drive you. President Roosevelt talked about fear during his first presidential inauguration in 1933. By this time, the Nazi party started to take control of Germany, and the world was coming out of the Great Depression. These were tough times that were about to get tougher.
The Social Dilemma tries to persuade its audience by making them afraid of social media. There are still many benefits to products like Facebook and Instagram, such as ease of human connection, keeping up with friends and family, and general entertainment.
I have always told clients to sleep on major decisions. Avoid making them in the heat of the moment and this is what should do here as well. Take a minute to center yourself, calm down, and then decide the best course of action for your life.
Let me take a moment to confirm that your feelings, whatever they may be, are valid. It’s ok to feel anxious, frustrated, or angry after watching this documentary. A mentor has always told me that the things that happen to you and how you feel about them are valid. The question is what you will do about them.
You always have options including quitting social media altogether, expanding your life beyond the digital realm, removing certain apps from your routine, and other options.
Now that we go the emotional aspect out of the way, let me give you three strategies you can take today to change your relationship with social media.
1. Move online activity to offline
If you’re mostly interacting with your friends online, take the initiative, and plan more offline activities. This planning may be more challenging in a COVID-19 era but not impossible. You may find that you get more enjoyment from this in-person activity.
2. Limit social media on your phone to a specific schedule
Consider limiting social media to a specific schedule, e.g., 5 pm – 6 pm. This way, it doesn’t take up your entire life and day.
3. Find things that you love and dedicate more time to them
It’s not just about removing social media but expanding your life to have other interests. What hobbies or activities could you pick up that aren’t online?
There’s no need to panic or feel overwhelmed by the oppression of the “system.” You can take tangible actions to improve your life and those around you. These actions shouldn’t come from fear but excitement and possibilities.