Next time you are on the subway line or eating dinner at a restaurant, look around. What you may notice is that everyone is on their phones. By now, this is not a new concept. We have witnessed smartphones and social media creep into our society over the past several years, encompassing more and more of our time and energy. Recent 2017 studies calculate that people in China spend more time on their mobile devices than almost any other country in the world, other than Brazil.
WeChat’s overwhelming presence in the Chinese social media market allow people to connect with each other quicker than ever. However, it leaves some wondering, have we lost value in interpersonal connection and face-to-face networking?
They raise a legitimate question. Living through social media platforms replaces valuable, interpersonal conversation with a simple post and “like”. Young adults consistently revert to their cell phones as a safety net in social environments – as an excuse not to interact. They enter into a virtual world, withdrawing from the valuable conversations happening around them.
How Can We Break This Trend?
Cutting back from social media can be a very difficult task. The notification of a received message or a liked post sends your brain a dopamine hormone that creates a quick rush of excitement, so young adults constantly strive for more and more notifications. This can become addictive if mobile users are not careful, eventually leading to increased anxiety, insecurity, and dependency.
It is not too late. Many young adults are beginning to draw back from their social media profiles, and studies show growth beginning to plateau. Some have found it liberating to move away from the circle of instant gratification. If you are looking for a way to cut back from social media, try some of the tips below for ideas on how to reduce mobile use and increase interpersonal connections.
1. Ban cell phones from your dining table.
Historically and across all cultures, eating food with others is a time of camaraderie, sharing stories, and gaining trust. If you have noticed cell phones appearing in your friends’ hands across the restaurant table, make a point to put yours on silent and face down. Invite your friends to do the same, and cherish the precious moments you have with each other! That WeChat news story will still be there when you get home from dinner.
2. Bring a book on the subway.
The commute to work can be lengthy at times, and many people pass the time by surfing through mindless articles. Those cute dog videos are great from time to time, but picking up a good quality book will bring multitudes more value to you. Once you’re into a really great book, your commute time will fly by! Reading has loads of benefits. It improves memory, reduces stress, and boosts vocabulary to name a few. Don’t know what to read? Browse the collection at The Bookworm. Order a snack, pick a book, take a seat, and leave when you please. Consider joining one of their book clubs or events! Books create interesting conversation, and sharing your thoughts with others will not only lead to friendships, but also expand your perspective.
3. Go on a social media cleanse.
Whether it’s deleting a few apps from your phone, or disconnecting altogether, a social media cleanse is the most effective way to break this habit. Although it may seem intimidating, the trend has become more popular over recent months as young adults grow tired of the overwhelming presence of social media in their lives. At first, you will think you are missing a lot of information, but you will find you have extra time to make breakfast or go to sleep earlier. And the truth is, you aren’t missing out on much! Sure, you didn’t see the post that your classmate from 3 years ago is having car trouble, but you will find out any important information through friends and natural conversation anyway!
4. Participate in a nearby networking event.
Beijing offers tons of networking opportunities for young professionals in the area to connect. You can practice your interpersonal networking skills at one of these events, and they often include drinks or food. Spending 2-3 hrs at a networking event is much more valuable than scrolling through someone’s online profile. You can always check the JingNews Events List for weekly updates on where to go to step outside your comfort zone and potentially meet a new friend!
So.. Should you throw your phone in the garbage now? Of course not. Mobile communication and social media are very important and useful tools, and they become more and more integrated into our lives each day. Just be mindful of your use, and ensure you are making interpersonal connections with those around you!