Ah, social media. We love it, can’t get enough of it, and well, let’s admit it, we’re pretty much obsessed with it. But there is a time and a place for tweeting and liking, and in a world full of endless online stimulation, we need to remember to make human connections. A handwritten note is always more personal than an email, and a real hug will trump an emoji any day. Here are some ways you can work on your people skills and learn to temporarily disconnect and put down your device.
1. Limit your social media time at social events.
Whether it’s a concert, a vacation with family or friends, a sporting event, or even a date, take the time to enjoy these occasions in person instead of through your iPhone camera lens. Of course, you’ll have the urge to take photos and post them all over your pages in real time, but the point is to be present in the moment. If you find yourself being scolded by the people around you for not paying attention to them, you may need to put yourself on time out. Go ahead and check in when you arrive on site at an event or outing, but then make it a point to put down your phone for the next hour. After that, take it out and snap some photos so you’ll have stored memories, but limit it to 4 or 5 minutes. And next time you’re at a baseball or a football game, just lay off the phone all together, or you might really piss some people off. Check out these passionate Soccer fans who protested against Wifi in their stadium.
2. Try the “phone stack” when dining out.
Arrive at restaurant: check. Tag yourself at said restaurant: check. Take photos of your #foodporn: check. Post photos on Instagram and Tweet about each course from start to finish….wait a minute. So when do you actually get to enjoy some quality time with the people you have chosen to eat a meal with? Well, you may not have heard of this, but in my humble opinion, the phone stack game is genius. When dining out with friends, once everyone has ordered their meals, they place their phones in a stack in the middle of the table, face down. Regardless of buzzing and ringing, no one is allowed to touch their phone until the end of the meal. If anyone reaches in, they have to foot the bill! Try implementing this rule when you are out to dinner, and I guarantee you may miss your virtual best friend for the first few minutes, but then you’ll start to realize how luxurious it is to have the full attention of your loved ones. Take it a step further and do what Brandon Holley (former editor of Lucky magazine) does when she comes home from work. As soon as you walk in the door, put your phone in a box and lock it away until after dinner time. If you can get your family to follow suit, even better.
3. Do away with “the second screen.”
This one is pretty challenging, but it’s a surefire way to decrease the amount of time you spend on social media platforms. Once a week, try tuning in to your favorite TV show and let the remote be your only companion for that hour. Nowadays, social media is integrated into major network shows in the form of onscreen live Twitter feeds, giveaways and calls to action, and hashtags on the bottom right corner of the screen. So, while you might enjoy texting with friends or checking the sports scores while you watch True Blood, try implementing this tip and you’ll be sure not to miss a bite.