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3 Common Ways We Are All Using Social Media the Wrong Way



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Social Media has been ingrained so much in our daily lives that our attention is fixated on it immediately after waking up, and right before falling asleep. Nonetheless, who can blame us, right? Times change and the state of our external environment should never be directly our fault. However, the things we can’t change also come with things we can change, such as our own choices and how to respond to what surrounds us.

You probably found this article through social media, and I want you to think about your intentions during that moment. Were you genuinely looking for information to further your knowledge? Or were you using it for other purposes that could sabotage your path to success?

Here are three ways you might be using social media the wrong way:

1. Using it to kill time

Time is the most valuable asset we have. You can always make more money, but you can never make more time. Rich or poor, tall or short, we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. Since life is short, how are you using those short hours that you have? Assuming you sleep six hours per night, that leaves you with only eighteen hours left.

In those eighteen hours, how many are spent looking at funny memes or catching up on that show everyone else is raving about? You might think, “Oh, I just got done with work and have six hours left until it’s time to go to bed. I’ll go on Facebook until I fall asleep.”

You can accomplish multiple things in six hours. For example, writing a quality article takes me two hours. In six hours, assuming I take minimal breaks, it means I could write three articles. You can also use those six hours to gain more knowledge by listening to podcasts, reading books, or taking part-time classes which will get you closer to your goal.

It’s not wrong to entertain ourselves and occasionally scroll through social media, but if it becomes a habit to waste time just because we can, it will take you much longer to succeed. To do it right, only allot a certain amount of time for it per day, then commit to it.

“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” – Alan Lakein

2. Allowing it to replace in-person human interaction

We’re busy creatures and do not have all the time in the world to meet all our friends in person. But what happens when we do have the time to spend with someone, and they’re actually in a nearby part of town?

For most people, their birthdays are displayed on their profiles, and while it feels good to have multiple notifications saying, “Happy Birthday!” on your timeline, nothing still beats actual one-on-one quality time with someone.

Relationships are one of the most important things in life, and success isn’t only about acquiring wealth or gaining power. Success is also about creating, nurturing and maintaining meaningful relationships bringing great benefits to everybody involved.

3. Allowing it to define your happiness

There you go again, stalking your ex’s Instagram pictures with their new partner. Look at them all happy and doing all the fun things you never did together. They look so in love, which probably means they are, right? Not necessarily.

I see it all the time. People posting like they’re having the best times of their lives and then all of a sudden I just hear that they’ve committed suicide or I find out that they weren’t actually happy.

We tend to filter out the bad parts of our lives on social media and let the world know only about the glamorous parts. I’m also guilty of this, since I like to post about the new clients I’ve landed for my business, the new articles that I’ve been featured in, and the new digital products I’ve finished.

Of course I wouldn’t want them to know about the hundreds of rejected business proposals, rejected articles and digital products which never sold a single transaction. Because why would anyone in their right mind do that? We always want to put our best selves online.

But thanks to enough experience, I’ve learned a life lesson that might take longer for others to know: Social media shouldn’t define your happiness. No matter how “empty” your feed or timeline might look like, it shouldn’t stop you from living life the way you want. Yes, we should consider the impact and visuals of our posts, but our self-esteem shouldn’t come from external validation.

“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.” – Albert Camus

Social media is not real life. The sooner we realize that, the less we’ll compare ourselves with others and truly appreciate where we are in our journey.

How are you making sure you use social media in a way not harmful to your health? Comment below!

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  1. Tanrose Anomuogharan

    Mar 7, 2018 at 2:49 am

    This article really helped me. Am guilty of the three mentioned points. I know i will make the necessary changes now that i have known how to use social media wisely.

  2. Shantanu Sinha

    Jan 29, 2018 at 4:34 am

    Hey Nicah,

    Good to read your article on Joel’s blog,
    Totally agree with you, the infinite scroll of social media’s time line, especially facebook’s is a really poor way to kill time. I guess limiting Facebook’s time has so far worked well, but we need to use facebook for connecting with people and that, at times distracts us and pulls us on its timeline.

    Social media has defenitely removed a lot of in-person conversation or even phone calls, the latest conversation with my friends that I remember comes from Whattsapp!

    We do post our best on social media and leave out the unsuccessful things, while that seems to be the way to go about it – I too agree with you that it shoudn’t necessarily define your happyness and most of all, you shouldn’t compare yourself or the state where you are, with others!

    – Shantanu

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?



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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

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