Detoxing Without Disconnecting: How Intentional Content Engagement Can Improve Mental Health.
Escapism and overindulgence go hand in hand, which is why, the age-old expression, ‘too much of a good thing’ is more pertinent than ever when it comes to digital media consumption. The internets original purpose was to improved connectivity and access to information (Jurgense, 2013). Social media platforms initially set out to connect friends and family. However, they have now dramatically evolved to become platforms offering instant content communication, consumption and information overload (NIB).
Like chocolate cake at a birthday party, it is now easier than ever to overdose on social media content. Too much of it sends you down the rabbit hole of overthinking. While for some cutting out social media and opting for total digital detox can lead to better mental health, some alternatives won’t lead to FOMO or Fear of Missing Out (Kalligas, 2019). Quitting social media cold turkey is not the only way to disconnect from social media, better mental health while using social media can be achieved through intentional content engagement.
Japanese organisation consultant Marie Kondo’s “if it does not spark joy it goes” (Kondo, p.15 2017) logic for decluttering houses applies to social media consumption as well. Jurgensen states that the internet should be fun, useful and not as important as what happens in real life (Jurgensen, 2013). People are what cause technologies to shift from their intended purposes as they engage with digital media platforms they see their potential for them (Postman, 1997 ). Fun and meaningless additions to life evolve into strategic communication tools (Horning, 2016).
In the case of Instagram, the platform initially started for everyday users to showcase images of their lives and things that made them happy(Jurgenson, 2013). However, it has since become an instrument of branding, both personal and professional (Bossio p.43, 2019). There is more evidence mounting that social media engagement can have critical effects on self-esteem and self-worth, which can lead to an increase in substance abuse (NIB).
The alarming results of how social media affects health and wellness highlights the need to follow Marie Kondo’s approach and return social media engagement to its original purpose. In other words, social media consumption needs to be treated like alcohol consumption, done when in a good mood, in a positive environment and in moderation to create meaningful interaction and be in a positive social presence (Smart Insights).
By focusing on feeling good and surrounding ourselves with content that makes us feel good, whether it is “@bostoncocker” the English Cocker Spaniel from Bondi or “@gourmettraveller” to better our mental health and wellbeing. The more positive content we engage with and disengage with content that isn’t, it creates a balance between the digital and physical while taking care of psychological well being.
Bossio, D. and Holton, A. E. (2019) ‘Burning out and turning off: Journalists’ disconnection strategies on social media’, Journalism. doi: 10.1177/1464884919872076
Castells, M. (2013). Communication power. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.1–53.
Jurgenson, Nathan. “The Disconnectionists.” The New Inquiry, 13 Nov. 2013, thenewinquiry.com/the-disconnectionists/. Accessed 10 May 2020.
Kondo, Marie. Spark Joy. London Vermilion Cop, 2017.
NIB Health Fund.“How Social Media Harms Your Mental Health | Nib.” Www.Nib.Com.Au, 2020, www.nib.com.au/the-checkup/healthy-living/how-social-media-harms-your-mental-health.
Smart Insights. (2019). The Digital Detox — why people are removing social apps but not deleting them | Smart Insights. [online] Available at: https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/why-people-are-removing-social-apps-not-deleting-them/ [Accessed 10 May 2020].