by May El Habachi
We are all guilty of engaging with our phones when we should be connecting with those around us. With a click of a button, it has become all too easy to like, comment or share instead of having real human communication and interaction.
Our fascination with social media is clear. With more than two billion social media users worldwide, it seems we are all connected in one way or another. People from across the globe can talk in real time and develop connections that would otherwise not have been possible without the advent of social media. But while we connect with others online, sometimes we fail to connect with those closest to us offline, usually our family and friends.
Disconnect to Connect
Sarah Moussa, therapist specializing in grief and trauma, yoga teacher and author of Reflection of a Self-Discovery Journey, believes that while social media has proven to be a valuable tool for connecting people and sharing information, it can also create disconnect if not used carefully.
“Social media is a great tool for connecting with others. However, what happens sometimes is that people substitute it for real connections and attachments. For example, instead of spending time with our families, spouses, children or friends, we connect with social media,” says Moussa. “It becomes a substitute to what’s missing in our lives, and that’s when it becomes unhealthy.”
Social media is not only sometimes used as a substitute for real connections, but it has also become an integral part of our lives. With most people leading busy lives, it can be challenging to stay present and engaged in the moment. It is now all too common to eat dinner while looking at our phones, but such multi-tasking doesn’t work. “Our brains are structured to do one thing at a time, and when we try to multitask, we feel stressed,” says Moussa.
She suggests making time for everything you do. “Life is not a race. Enjoy your meal, spend time with others and be fully engaged with whatever it is you are doing in the moment.”
Making Time to Connect
Marian Bahader, a mother of two and an expert marketeer with more than a decade’s worth of experience, has recently decided to become a digital minimalist. “Although I used to be a heavy social media user, I decided to cut back and reclaim my time. Today, we’re bombarded with content, messages and promotions that we don’t necessarily need or want. There is so much clutter and I felt that enough is enough.”
While Bahader is now taking charge of her time on social media, she also recognizes that social media has helped her connect with friends that otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to connect with. “I think social media, particularly Facebook, has brought amazing people into my life and has helped me connect with old friends,” she says. “I also believe digital minimalism is important nowadays. It’s important to take control of our time and decide what we want to do with it.”
Use Social Media with Purpose
So, should we eliminate social media from our lives to reclaim some of our lost time? Probably not. The key is to use it effectively. “It’s important to know what you want to get out of social media. For example, I use social media to help grow my business and inspire others to live a life where they are connected with themselves and their surroundings. I don’t use social media to see what others are up or get absorbed in peoples’ negative comments,” says Moussa.
She advises to first know what you want to get from social media before using it. “You control how to use social media. Don’t let it control you.” Social media and other social apps should be used to serve a purpose. While the purpose may differ for each one of us, we nonetheless need to use it constructively. “Sometimes we forget that we have a life besides our social media profiles, smart phones or lap tops. If social media stops you from living your life or being with yourself, your family or friends, then you need to revise how you use it.”
Like anything else, it takes time and practice to change any habit. Bahader who is now taking charge of her time to focus more on her family, friends and achieving her life goals believes that while it can be challenging at times to disconnect, it is well worth it. “I am trying to minimize the time I spend on my phone and on social media. It’s not always easy, but I’m slowly becoming more conscious of what’s really important to me.”
So next time you’re on social media, think of who you really want to be connecting and how you want to be spending your time!