The dark side of social media: Three challenges & six solutions


A week ago I deleted Instagram from my smartphone and wrote about it briefly on LinkedIn. Apparently it’s a topic many others have thought about and/or struggled with as well.

As of this morning, that post has been viewed more than 1.3 million times and generated more than 5,000 likes and 1,000 comments.  Crazy.

In reading through the comments and discussing the issue with colleagues over the past few days, I’ve noticed that most of us who struggle with the dark side of social media have one or more of the following challenges:

  • A lack of self discipline (to stay away or limit time on social channels)
  • A lack of confidence and/or self esteem (such that we are negatively impacted by seeing other people’s successes)
  • A lack of motivation (in this case, to go spend that time doing something more productive)

I raise these challenges not as a commentary on others.  I face each of them as well, some more frequently or intensely than others.

One response to these challenges is to do what I did, and eliminate the source altogether.  But if you want to strike a better balance, enjoying social media for its many benefits while mitigating the above challenges, below are a handful of summarized recommendations also culled from the comments:

  • Mitigate distractions: Turn off pop-up notifications and other alerts that pull you into social when you have other things to focus on
  • Resolve first: Know your goals and your limits.  Be intentional about how much time you want to spend on social.  Define those limits up front.
  • Celebrate your wins, big and small: Name them, share them, celebrate them.  Take credit for how awesome you are, to build up your confidence daily.
  • Express gratitude: To others and yourself, make a daily habit of appreciating what you have, and appreciating what you see amongst others.
  • Affirm and recommit to your goals & desired outcomes daily:  Have a bad day?  Blow through your diet?  Lose a big deal? Recommit to getting back on track tomorrow (or tonight, or from this minute forward).
  • Use social media time as a reward, not an idle activity: Give yourself XX defined minutes of social distraction only after you’ve accomplished something else more important on your to-do or milestone list today.

I’d love to hear your experience, struggles and resolutions related to social media usage as well.