The simple desire to be liked is a social tool that bridged over to social media as quickly as the “like” button was added to posts and has exploded into something that can completely take over someone’s life. I’ve heard girls in line at Starbucks genuinely upset about exes liking their boyfriend’s posts, I’ve read articles about youngn’s getting together to form “like” groups that will propel pictures to viral stardom, and Black Mirror released an episode this year where everyone lives in a society where the number of likes you get as a person determines your quality of life: where you can live, and what places you can go to. For some people, it seemed less like “dystopian reality” and more like “reality.”
Watching likes roll in is quite literally as addictive as a drug, sparking feel-good hormones in your brain and allowing you to easily waste and hour or two just refreshing your screen hoping to get more attention. If you’re trying to grow a social media account, then the “likes” mean even more because they are a predictive tool for how the account is going: more is always better.
Whether you have 200 followers or 20k, here are a few things that are symptomatic of needing a little time off from your notifications:
You Don’t Post Pictures You Want to Post Because “Other” People Won’t Like Them
As you grow your account you start to notice that people like certain pictures more than others. For my account that means that people mostly like pictures of me on my computer, they kind of like pictures of just computers, and they’re pretty ambivalent about anything else. I can post two pictures that are basically the same (one without a laptop) and it cuts the engagement rate in half because my audience wants to see laptops. If it were up to them, I would have 300 photos of me typing at a computer – and I think that’s ridiculous.
I know that a picture of a puppy, or a picture without a laptop won’t get that much attention and several people will probably unfollow me, but I also hate peer pressure and want to maintain some autonomy over my account and what I post, so I post those pictures anyway.
Your Phone Dies Because You Check Your Notifications So Often
Getting notifications is fun and great, but 90% of the notifications you’ll get are just people “liking” things. If you’ve ever caught yourself standing in the middle of a grocery store refreshing your social media when you should be trying to find the perfect cheese (or standing in front of your laundry machine, not doing your laundry), you’re probably suffering from this symptom.
The more followers you have, the more exciting checking your likes becomes, and it can do some serious damage to how you feel about yourself and how your day goes. Not only can you kill your phone battery, but it can also kill your social interactions, or your precious personal time that you have to read and do other things. Even if it feels like it’s just taking a “second” of your day, it means you’re constantly multi-tasking – and multi-tasking isn’t a good thing.
I have a few suggestions if you find yourself uncontrollably checking to see who’s paying attention to you:
- Turn your notifications off for that application. Trust me, you won’t “miss” anyone because you’ll still be thinking about it. This will save you from being constantly distracted and your phone won’t die as fast because it won’t be constantly lighting up.
- Establish specific time periods to follow up on a post. I like to intentionally check at the 5 minute, 15 minute, 30 minute, 1 hour, and 6 hour marks. I do this to gauge how well the post is doing when it’s posted at a particular time of day (if it’s over 100 at the 30 minute mark I know it’s doing great, etc.). I don’t look at “who” liked it, I just look at the numbers and then shut it back down. If you’re honestly afraid of forgetting then just set alarms on your phone to remind you and then go about your life.
- Don’t multi-task. If you’re doing laundry, if you’re (actively) cooking, if you’re having a conversation with someone, if you’re at a concert, if you’re on a walk, then don’t rob yourself of that experience by looking at your likes. They will still be there in 5 minutes, that moment you’re in the middle of won’t be. After you finish doing whatever the task at hand is go sit down for a minute and scroll through your feed, then go do something else. Don’t pretend you can do both at the same time.
You Post Just To Post (Not Because You Have Good Content)
There’s a difference between trying to stick to a posting schedule and just posting pictures in order to get more attention. We all know that person who posts 3-10 times a day looking to get reactions or adulation from people (don’t be that person).
I try to post every day because I know algorithmically that’s the best way to gain more followers, but if I’m too busy or tired or just literally have nothing to post, I’ll give it a break. If I don’t have 5-10 minutes to sit down and take a picture then it’s not in my (or my follower’s) interest for me to post a mediocre picture just to get the count up.
Social Media is Stressing You Out
This is so not worth it. If you’re consistently stressed over pictures (yours or someone else) or replying to comments, then you need to figure out a way to separate yourself from the media. If it’s part of your business, then make business hours for yourself where you promise yourself that you’ll put down the phone after a certain time (or only pick it up under certain circumstances). The effects of social media addiction are real, and you have to watch out for your mental health.
If you constantly check it when it’s in your pocket then put it in another room for a few hours (or keep it in your bag when you go out unless you absolutely need it).
Remind yourself that you are not the picture you portray, for better or worse. It’s okay to put the phone down, grab a glass of wine, and binge-watch your favorite childhood movies on a Friday night. Your followers will survive without you for a few hours. No one needs to know about everything you do, and you’ll probably enjoy it more if you keep parts of your life social media free.