Wells: Finding a healthy balance with social media


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Editor-in-Chief Annelise Wells writes about how she has found a way to minimize her time being on social media. 

Annelise Wells

One of the hardest parts about being a journalist is constantly being surrounded by news, updates and posts around the clock.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job, but it definitely takes a mental health toll after months and even years of constantly being plugged in not just for pleasure and fun, but also for work. 

The 24-hour news cycle is important to keep everyone as up to date as possible, especially during unprecedented times like these. But it also is exhausting and promotes this idea of feeling like as a journalist I can’t take any time off. 

Because of my constant screen usage at work and at home, there has been times when I just want to delete all of my social media accounts and go off the grid. However once I calm down, I realize my job field is all about social media, and I truly do love it. I then try to think what I can do to make sure I am not mindlessly scrolling through Twitter forever and learning how to balance my work screen time with my fun screen time.

I have especially noticed the impact social media has on me throughout these weeks of social distancing. I spend hours just flipping between apps and while at first it gives me some sort of digital comfort and makes me feel a little less alone, after a while it just purely makes me sad. 

For my big three social media apps: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I decided to go into settings on my iPhone and set a time limit for myself. My phone reminds me when I have five minutes left and after my allotted time is up, the apps appear gray in nature with an hourglass on them. 

Once I click on the app, it gives me three options to ignore my time limit if I decide to: “one more minute,” “15 more minutes” and “ignore time limit for today.” I usually only use the first two if I come up with a dumb tweet idea or something, but most of the time when the options come up, I feel kind of guilty and remember why I set these limits for myself in the first place.

It sounds odd at first, but seeing them grayed out on my screen reminds me that it’s OK that I don’t have to be completely plugged in all the time, especially during a period of encouraged isolation. 

I still use YouTube and Netflix and other social media without set app limits, as I find myself using them for more specific purposes than just scrolling. They don’t make me as sad as my other platforms (unless I am binging Grey’s Anatomy). I know how to balance watching shows and videos, it’s just a few platforms I am learning to have a healthier relationship with.

I’ve been filling more of my time with watercoloring, journaling, working out inside and playing frisbee with my brother. I’m taking advantage of the time that I am home to focus on myself and to spend time with my immediate family, as most of the year I am over five hours away from them. 

I’m not perfect, but realizing how many times I would try and check some social media apps a day out of habit has been pretty eye-opening for me.