The Social Media Challenge: Could restricting usage make you happier?

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We all love a good Facebook stalk don’t we?

One minute you’re on your best friend’s profile, the next you’ve navigated through their cousin’s best friend’s sister’s daughter’s aunt’s dog’s profile. Weird.

And while it’s funny joking about our use of social networks, an underlying issue is emerging. We’re spending far too long on social media and it’s affecting our health.

In 2014, it was reported that social media accounts for 28% of time spent online (I personally think it’s significantly more) and that users aged 15-19 are spending at least 3 hours per day on social media. (Again, I think that’s looking on the low side).

What’s scary is that if we really are spending 3 hours a day on social media, that’s 21 hours a week – almost a full day. Now put the phone down and walk away.. slowly.

But before you start to dwell on the negatives of social media usage  (because let’s face it, it isn’t going to disappear overnight), is there a way to make yourself happier while using it? Or is it better to just give it up completely?

Between 2011 and 2014, it’s estimated that around 11 million teenagers did just that, leaving Facebook and countless Candy Crush requests behind (which – let’s be honest – can be quite a relief).

It’s not just Facebook either, people are moving with their mouse and abandoning similar public sites like Twitter and Instagram in favour of the close-friend centric platforms like Whatsapp and Snapchat.

Of course, the news of potential stakeholders switching off from social media can’t be good for PR. As many will know, social media has paved the way for opportunities that were mere dreams in the 90’s and early 00’s.

While it’s undeniable that social media has been instrumental in many successful campaigns and PR strategies, a change in public behaviour displays that reliance on these practices is simply foolish.

It’s important to remember that just a few years ago, media relations was the thing that everyone was talking about. And yes, while it’s still widely used to this day, the industry has evolved at such fast speed that it’s no longer the bread and butter of PR.

Could the same be true for social media? I couldn’t possibly say. My crystal ball is out for repair. I’m not for one second suggesting that social media is dwindling because it isn’t.

But it’s definitely worth noting audience trends when looking forward to future prospects.

And what of this so called Social Media Challenge? Well, over the next 5 days (my blog post is a couple days late this week, phew), I’ll be upping my restriction of social media until I go completely off the radar on Monday.

Whether my challenge results in a new-found independence or just overwhelming nausea, the prospect of ‘cutting myself off’ from the virtual world is worrying.

Although I’m sure I’ll re-emerge from the dark ages unscathed, I urge you all to try it with me and let me know how you get on, I’m sure the results will be mixed.

PS: the words ‘social’ and ‘media’ appear quite frequently in this blog post and for that I apologise!

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