There is a wonderful feature on the new Amazon Kindle to help keep children from becoming too dormant. The feature, called Kindle FreeTime, lets parents measure and limit “screen time.”  Given the amount of time many of us spend on social media, the feature does inspire an interesting thought …

What if someone offered the same thing for social media?

It may not immediately sound that appealing.  After all, you might not really want to know how much time you spend on Facebook. But there is an intrinsic value in adding visibility to the invisible.  Simply by knowing how long you have been spending, for example, you might change your behavior.  But what’s the downside of your Facebook time?

The rationale for why any of us might need this goes deeper than just to keep us more active in the real world instead of glued to our devices.  There is growing evidence and attention on the fact that the time spent on social media may actually be making us unhappier. The fact that people tend to share only the best parts of their days and lives through social media ends up presenting a sort of photoshopped version of reality that real life cannot compete with.  The natural reaction to seeing an endless stream of artificial happiness is jealousy – and we’ve all felt it before.

Let’s call this problem “green time.”

Green Time describes the moments people spend reading social media updates and self-centered content that ends up fueling a sense of social or professional jealousy.

3 Negative Effects Of Green Time

The more green time any of us allow to creep into our schedules, the more likely we are to engage in one of the following negative habits:

  1. Isolation – the more content we see from events or moments that we are not part of, the greater sense of isolation we may feel.
  2. Exaggeration – as every status update offers a rosier picture of life, we feel pressure to exaggerate even ordinary moments to try and make them something more.
  3. Self Filtering – we start to apply a higher standard to the type of content or emotions that are “worthy” to share online, keeping our darker moments to ourselves.

How To Fight Back Against Green Time

So what’s the solution to green time? Being more self confident is clearly the idealistic answer – but it’s not always easy to change overnight. Instead, there are three ways to avoid unwittingly falling into the green time trap:

  1. Start Tracking Time: It is important to find ways to track and uncover the moments in your daily life when your green time is the greatest. For some it’s that moment when you are surfing updates while waiting for the bus. For others, it’s part of a daily morning routine. The more ways you can find to track the time that you’re truly spending which might be considered green time, the more easily you can find ways to change that behaviour.
  2. Keep Your Perspective: Remember that there is a natural bias when it comes to much of social media sharing that drives people to only share the best or most enviable moments in their lives. When your social stream is filled with those moments, it is easy to forget this fact – but keeping that perspective helps to remind yourself that social media isn’t always a true reflection of real life.
  3. Unfollow Oversharers: In every social network, there is that very small population of people who are always posting amazing life updates. Their entire goal, it seems, is to make the world around them envious of the lives they supposedly lead. Unfollow those people. The good news about doing that is that your stream on a platform like Facebook or even Twitter will immediately become more useful and less inflated with boasting content.

Do you have any other tips for avoiding green time? Share them in a comment below …