Senior Airman Kristan Campbell, photojournalist assigned to the 18th Wing Public Affairs office, scrolls through social media on her smartphone at Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 14, 2019. Social media gathers personal data and shows users what tech companies think users want to watch, buy, or learn. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
Senior Airman Kristan Campbell, photojournalist assigned to the 18th Wing Public Affairs office, scrolls through social media on her smartphone at Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 14, 2019. Social media gathers personal data and shows users what tech companies think users want to watch, buy, or learn. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

How can you use social media to positively influence your life?

by Capt. Michelle Sierra-Kwandham
18th Medical Operations Squadron

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Some of us spend hours on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We scroll through countless pictures, watch endless videos and some involve themselves in questionable commentary. At times, we leave these realms feeling inadequate or hopeless. So, how can we use this technological space to meaningfully educate, motivate and inspire us into action?

I will spend the next few paragraphs exploring that idea with you. Let us think about “trending,” cueing, and behavioral activation, and how these three areas can help you enjoy and grow from using technology.

Trending and spheres of influence:

What do you like on Facebook?

For better or worse social media learns what we like and spoon feeds us similar content. So, what you follow, what you like and what you click on is incredibly important. Therefore, be thoughtful and start to search for more meaningful content. Here are some recommended categories or keywords: motivational speakers, gratitude, parenting, etc. Find trusted sources of information like National Public Radio, the Gottman Institute, Times magazine and National Geographic, and follow their pages.
Start to intentionally like content that resonates with you.

Cueing:

Have you been meaning to use your language app to study, but you keep forgetting? Increase your utilization of desired apps by organizing your icons on your smart phone or tablet home screen. If you open your phone right now and you have over 15 apps then you would probably benefit from reorganizing! My top recommendations are to have your 4 heavily used icons on the bottom of your screen and one or two of the icons you’ve been wanting to increase use of on your home screen. Move all other icons to separate pages. We look at our phone multiple times a day, so the picture we have on our home screen and what we have on our locked screen can greatly help us accomplish our goals or just be another distraction. Another similar tool to cueing is pairing. So, for example to increase my use of my language study app I’m going to set a goal: Before I check Facebook, I’m going to spend five minutes in my language app. Since I frequently use Facebook, it’ll help me remember, “oh wait” I told myself I would practice my languages prior to looking on social media. Focused attention and repetition are the keys to creating a new habit.

Behavioral Activation: 

Now that you’re seeing more positive, healthy, and meaningful content, what do you do next?

Do not get lulled into inaction. Create a donation for your next birthday, set a date with friends to watch a documentary or educational video, join a local club or event like “Nerd Nite” at a favorite restaurant or cafe. You could even use the Kadena Connect mobile app to find out the next movie time and go on your own.
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals! Goals that follow this checklist- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Connectedness: 

While stationed here in Okinawa, I have seen vivid examples of people who are rock stars at utilizing the power of social media.

For example, some of the Facebook groups like Okinawa Questions, Okinawa Pin Drops, Military Spouses without Children, Manpendents and more have created hundreds of social events and provide support to over 30,000 people. If you have broad or specific interests, there is a group for you on Facebook or MeetUp. If you’re bored or not sure what you’d like to do, then find a group like Lost.In.Okinawa that can inspire you through pictures to find new cafes, beach swings, or other hidden gems.
Social media gathers our data and shows us what they think we want to watch, buy, or learn. Therefore, we can play the system and influence it to display themes that cause us to develop critical thinking skills and feelings of hope. After your next 10 minutes browsing on social media ask yourself, how do I feel now? If the answer is great, then you’re doing something right. If the answer is no, I’m depressed or frustrated at the world, then be more intentional with what you click on, what you search for, and what groups you join.

Visit Kadena’s 18th Force Support Squadron Library to see all the other free mobile apps and websites we have access to like Mango Languages mobile app, RBD Digital and many more! If we don’t use it then we can lose these amazing free privileges. Each download and each time you use it is like a bonus!

Click with intention!

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