With the staggering amount of content available online, it’s not hard for our social media and internet accounts to get out of control.
Sometimes, you’ll end up following that amazing travel account on a whim, only to realize later that the posts are stirring up some FOMO feelings. Or, maybe you signed up for a new photo hosting service, then realized later it didn’t have the tools you needed. Now, that account is sitting dormant and you can’t even remember the password.
Situations like the above happen often, so it’s a good idea to cleanup your digital life periodically. At least four times a year, I try to hit the following points to ensure my online experience stays positive, uplifting and secure.
Unfollow any accounts that make you feel inferior, uninspired or left out.
This is my #1 rule for social media.
We’ve all read the studies about social media’s potentially negative impact on our brains. Unchecked, unintentional social media consumption can cause feelings of isolation, depression and FOMO. Who needs that?
To prevent these negative side effects, regularly scroll through the list of accounts you follow and really think about how they make you feel. Is the account inspiring you, or is it making you feel left out? Is the account still active? Is it still relevant to your life?
It’s so important to only expose yourself to content that helps you be the best version of yourself. Don’t feel guilty if you need to tap the “unfollow” button. (To be clear, this rule applies even if you know the person in real life.)
Change your passwords regularly (and make them strong).
Here’s a true story: last fall, my blog was hacked with Malware. Somehow, an Internet worm had embedded itself deep into the code of my website and started redirecting my visitors to a scam lottery raffle page. Instead of paying an IT company to clean it up, I ended up deleting the website and starting over.
This experience was a huge wake-up call for me to regularly change my passwords (and also to make my passwords very complex).
You should be changing your passwords every few months, at the least. And whatever you do, don’t make them something easy to guess! This means that your dog’s name, your birthday and the word “password” are all off-limits.
If you hate remembering passwords (which is pretty much everyone), services like LastPass can help with your internet security. These programs remember your complex passwords all in one place so you don’t have to.
Update your profile picture and bio.
It’s a good idea change your profile pic and rewrite your “about me” info regularly.
Whether you have a business or a personal account, your followers and friends will appreciate you keeping things current. I think it’s fun to switch it up, too!
Close any dormant accounts.
I hate the feeling of having dormant accounts scattered around the World Wide Web. Does anyone else feel this way, too? Abandoned accounts feel like clutter to me. They can also potentially be a security concern if your information is compromised and you’re not around to monitor it.
I try my best to formally close any account I know I’m not going to use. It gives me peace of mind that my information is secure and eliminates my uncomfortable disorganized feelings.
Consider if your social media platforms still fit you (or if it’s time to take a break).
I mentioned earlier that you should consider how individual accounts make you feel. However, it’s also important to ask if the entire social media platform is still working for you.
Take Snapchat, for example.
I used to really enjoy Snapchat. Then, the big 2018 update happened.
After the update, it was hard to see posts from my friends. The sponsored content was noisy and cluttered and I was seeing stories daily from influencers that didn’t align with my values. I felt generally unhappy when using the app. Ultimately, I made the decision to stop using it for a while and it made me feel better.
Consider how much of your time you’re spending online.
Do you know how many times you check your phone daily? According to a 2017 article in the New York Post, the average American checks his or her phone 80 times every day!
If you think you’re reaching for your phone too often, you may benefit from a mindfulness app such as Moment. Although it can seem counterintuitive, apps like Moment can be useful because they provide guided coaching and tips for being less dependent on your phone.
If you have an iPhone, you can enable a similar feature called “Screen Time” within your settings. Screen Time will give you a handy summary of how much time you’re spending on each app.
The internet and social media can be wonderful tools for communication and education, but only if used appropriately. To preserve your mental health and well-being, it’s important to review your online activities, change your passwords, and evaluate what you’re getting out of your social media experience.
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