Once upon a time, using social media was a simple routine. Most people only ever really had to think about Myspace and Facebook. It took all of 10 minutes to log in, check up on both, and happily carry on with the rest of your day. Slowly but surely though, staying on top of social media accounts has turned into a ridiculous circus. Everyone’s caught up in a maze of hashtags, filters, news feeds, trending topics, livestreams, challenges, reblogs and whatever new rituals each social network has brewing in the works. It’s gotten to the point that social media feels less like interacting, and more like filing information for public consumption.

Even though using social media has become an overwhelming experience for many, abandoning it altogether isn’t exactly the answer to resolving the mess. Social media has evolved into an indispensable part of life that informs the majority of how people communicate today. This means that giving up on social media would only result in a situation of unnecessary isolation. Rather than throwing in the towel, making a few painless adjustments to how you use social media can help reign in the confusion and actually lead to meaningful connection with others on these networks. Here are a few tips on sensible ways to gain control of social media:

1.Stop trying to be a jack of all trades

It’s a natural instinct for people to try and stay current with new trends. As social media multiplies and progresses, this has created a scenario in which people constantly subscribe to new networks even though it’s inevitable to lose track of them all. Rather than spreading yourself thin, choose to focus on a small selection of sites that are actually relevant to your social needs. Focusing on three or four networks makes it easier to manage the quality of activity happening on each account.

2. Pick networks that are compatible with your lifestyle.

Just because Facebook has 1 Billion users doesn’t mean you have to be one of them. Just because 500 million tweets are published on twitter every day doesn’t mean your voice has to chime in on all that traffic. Social networks are like outfits. It’s a harsh truth but not everyone is meant to pull off certain looks. The best way to get memorable experiences out of social media is to choose formats that match how you like to express yourself. If taking photographs appeals to you more than conversation, an image-based site like Instagram or Flickr would be more suited to your needs. If you’re the type of person who has a lot to say but not much to show, choosing a blogging platform like tumblr or Reddit would provide more fulfilling encounters. If filming sounds more fun, vlogging on YouTube would certainly be more rewarding than struggling with other sites. The more naturally self-expression happens, the more authentically you’ll be able to present yourself to the world.

3.Keep it simple.

Diving into social media as if it’s life and death is a recipe for disaster. Social media should complement the real-world relationships we form with people – not replace them. Social media should flavor how we relate to others rather than entirely define our connections. Taking social media too seriously is a slippery slope to oversharing and overexposure. It compels people to live life constantly seeking approval from others. Even worse, taking social media too seriously eliminates the filter of decency that would otherwise stop us from needlessly expressing controversial and inappropriate views.

If keeping track of your social media starts to feel more like work than a pastime, it’s probably a sign that you should reevaluate whether you are trying to do too much. Focusing on the networks that make it easy to express yourself is usually the best way to eliminate the stress of having to keep up with the ever-changing chore of being logged in. A decision to simplify your social media, is a decision to streamline your life. Check out RISE Programs’ Blogs for more helpful advice, and remember to share this post with your friends and family.

Author: Daniel Otianga