“Do you find yourself regularly stalking @emrata till your thumb hurts? Have you ever accidentally liked your ex’s new partners post from 2015?” If the answer is yes, (which we hazard a guess it might be!) then maybe you should be tuning into the podcast tackling social media addiction head on: We Are Offline, run by London-based social media editors Alyss Bowen and Lotte Williams.
Of course, there are plenty of positive reasons to be on social media — in fact, it’s hard to imagine our lives without Instagram — but it’s hard to deny we are all guilty of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram in a bit of a trance. And that’s not to mention the mental health impacts of a never-ending barrage of sneaky advertising and fitspiration posts effecting our bank balance and self-esteem. Bowen and Williams are on a mission to educate themselves and their listeners on how to mindfully use social platforms, without spiraling into addiction.
After a few years working in social media, they realised that constantly being on their phones had impacted their friendship. That’s when idea for We Are Offline was born. “We’ve known each other for over 10 years, but it didn’t really click until 6-7 months ago when we realised we weren’t spending quality time together because of our social media addiction,” explains Bowen. The duo started to research the link between social media and mental health, and soon enough they were recording their first episode in their flat. “We’re not trying to boycott social media”, says Bowen, adding: “We just want to let people know they’re not on their own and it’s possible to have a healthier relationship with it.”
Their podcast comes at the perfect time, as more people search for practical guidance on mindful scrolling — there is a huge demand for advice and guidance on how to use social media in a way that also protects our mental health and wellbeing. “If we find it hard to switch off, younger people must find it even more difficult, because they’ve never known any difference, and that’s quite worrying”, she says.
While you might not consider yourself a social media addict, we can all agree it’s about time we redefine our relationship with our online identities — reconsidering how much time and energy we spend curating them.
Below, you can read Alyss and Lotte’s top five tips for becoming more mindful on social media. Find the We Are Offline podcast here.
1) Give yourself a scrolling time limit
How much time would you say you spend scrolling daily? We did the math (thanks to the new iPhone feature Screen Time) and we both racked up around 24-hours a week each. That’s an entire day wasted on our phones when we could have been out and about doing something productive. Sometimes we get it, you need to scroll for inspiration or even research for an essay—so give yourself a time limit. Start off allowing yourself an hour or two a day, then cut it down. Before you know it you won’t even need to scroll for 30-minutes daily, and the time you do scroll will be benefit you rather than limit you.
2) Scroll with a purpose
As social editors we’ve become really good at knowing which accounts to head to for whatever it ‘is’ we’re trying to get out of Instagram. So if we need inspiration for work or can’t decide what to wear that day, we have a rough idea of which person’s feed to search to give us the goods—including memes, because who doesn’t love a meme? But the thing with Instagram is, more often than not you find yourself scrolling with no purpose, taking left and right turns onto random people’s feeds and wasting precious time. Instead, make a list of the accounts you love, the ones you know you’ll gain something from and head there when you tap into the Instagram app. Your time spent online will feel more fulfilling if you stop aimless scrolling and start doing with more of a purpose.
3) Don’t scroll the feeds of the people you don’t follow
This tip works best when in conjunction with tip number 2. You know how when you scroll a Victoria Secret model’s instagram even though you don’t follow them and all of a sudden you’re sat there on your sofa feeling like a total mess because you don’t get up at 4.35am every morning to do an intense HIIT workout? This feeling is all too real for so many people, us included. But did you know you can control that? Simply stop scrolling the feeds of people you don’t know, and Instagram will stop serving you up that content in your explore page. The algorithm is sneaky, but you can beat it.
4) Save your screen time for when it counts
How many times have you told yourself you’ll read a book on the bus, only to end up with your eyes glued to your screen for the entire 37-minutes it takes you to get to your destination? And then you end up staring at a computer, casually picking up your phone to check Instagram, WhatsApp and any other apps you may be using throughout your day. Doing all this on a daily basis not only affects our mental health, but it can also cause things such as computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain—which can result in eye strain, aches, dryness, double or blurred vision or even burning of the eyes. Sounds nasty, right? So spend that time on route to your next destination wisely—if you’re going to be staring at a computer all day long, why not read a book or better still, listen to a podcast (here’s the link to our latest episode) for the duration of your bus ride instead.
5) Let go of the attachment that comes with posting
Not everything we do on social media is about scrolling, it’s about what we post to our own feeds too. And more often than not, we attach an outcome to whatever we’re posting. Whether that’s a certain number of likes, or that someone we’re crushing on seeing our Instagram Story or sending you a DM. The thing with having an attachment to whatever we’re posting is it can often lead to disappointment. The less onus you place on your post, the less down you feel when you don’t get the outcome you want. Remember, it’s your feed so post for you and no one else.
For more tips to get offline, come and follow us @weroffline. Ironic, we know, but we can’t reach you if we’re not on Instagram, can we?