What To Do When Social Media Isn’t Making You Feel Good
From the title, I know what you’re probably thinking but don’t worry this isn’t another post telling you that social media is evil, think of this as more of a cautionary tale. As I'm a human who absolutely loves social media and all the things that it’s done for my life, after all without it I wouldn’t be sitting at home typing out this post for you to hopefully enjoy. But, I’m also not someone who doesn’t acknowledge that when used incorrectly it can be incredibly detrimental to our mental health and can have serious consequences. And over the past year I really have fallen into a bad pattern of behaviour with social media and here is what I’m doing to not only fall back in love with it but prevent myself from doing the same thing all over again.
It was around a year or so ago that I finally felt serious social media and blog fatigue, which isn’t all that surprising seeing as I’d been blogging daily for years and then creating content for other social media platforms too. It wasn’t so much of a case of not enjoying those things anymore it was simply that I hadn’t taken a proper break and too much of anything whether it's good or bad can have a negative effect on you. I took a month off from posting on this blog last March and was pretty quiet across social media in general and it made me really have a look at my why for being online. Why do I post my life online? Do I truly get enjoyment from this anymore? Do I see myself using this for the next year? And all those questions ultimately resulted in a yes but recently breaking down the why of each of my social media platforms has pretty eye-opening. So asking myself why about this blog, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and this is my reason for being online and using social media. Obviously, this blog and my Instagram are the things that provide my income but I asked myself these things if money wasn’t involved as that's why I started.
I’m now on my eighth year of blogging and in that time the landscape has changed an extraordinary amount, some for the good and some not so good. Naturally, like with anything that you look at daily sometimes I’m not always so excited to do things but ultimately I still have that fire in my belly to create content that I would want to read myself. My love for the world of beauty has certainly dwindled hence why there isn’t such a heavy beauty element anymore and I write more about fashion. But having a blog is the one thing that is not subject to a cruel algorithm and it’s the one space that I have the freedom to do whatever I want with and I think it’s all too easy to forget that. The fact that people can search for something and come across a post of mine is something that excites me so much as it gives what I’m producing longevity. Ultimately, I think even when this is no longer my job I'll still use this space as it brings me so much joy to create content and make connections with the people reading.
Instagram is the social media platform that I find leads to the most negativity in my life. Whether that be from comparing myself to the highlight reel of someone else's life or getting increasingly upset about the algorithm and the fact I find it absolutely impossible to thrive on the platform anymore. But there is something that pulls me back to the platform even though it has had quite a serious knock-on effect on my mental health, I have to be completely frank about that. I love creating imagery and seeing it all sit together in those neat little squares, not only does it give me the chance to take more photographs of my day to day life but it works as my own little personal portfolio. However, my biggest issue with Instagram is that it’s so easy to get bogged down with what’s on our feeds which is why it’s so important to only follow people that add joy to your life. We have full control over what we’re consuming but for some reason, it can be so easy to forget that, unfollowing isn’t always a nice feeling (that’s why the mute button is wonderful). Last year I created a profile for my dogs and these days that is where most of my happiness comes from, I find there is rarely a hidden agenda and people are simply sharing the thing that they love the most (their dogs). I also find it’s where I’ve been able to make the most connections with like-minded people which isn’t something I’ve felt on Instagram for months, maybe even years at this point.
Twitter is the platform where I’m probably the least social these days, I’m more of a browser and I find it’s where I get most of my news. And for that reason it’s something that I’ve been thinking about deactivating as at this point I’m mostly pointlessly scrolling. I think there is this weird pressure on us to be crazy active on every social media platform going but ultimately if you don’t find yourself using it then what is the point? I’m going to delete it from my phone and then see how I feel as if not something I find myself actively looking for then I should probably deactivate it for a little while.
I deactivated my personal Facebook account at the end of 2012 and it was one of the best decisions I made at the time for my mental health. It’s a platform that I recently started using again as I created a page for the dogs as to no-one's surprise, I really love the sighthound community and I thought it was a great way to reach people that didn’t use Instagram. And I’m happy using it in that way as I find no reason to share my own life on the platform so I don’t spend a huge amount of time on there and when I do it's a positive experience.
A DIGITAL DECLUTTER
Something I’m quite conscious of when it comes to my mental health and using social media is that I’m following the right people. And those people look different for everybody but personally, I like to feel inspired by the lives of the people I follow so things like real conversations are what I look for the most. It doesn’t have to be all serious though as I find that often when you’re consuming the deep thoughts of others all the time it can be quite emotionally draining. Like I said earlier, unfollowing people can often feel really uncomfortable so sometimes the mute button is the better option for when you don’t quite feel brave enough to detach completely in case it leads to an uncomfortable conversation that you might not feel ready to have. Even though I know the sting of what an unfollow feels like all too well there truly is no point of being a number for the sake of it, if you’re not connected to what someone is producing on a social media platform at all then it only makes sense to unfollow. As well as regularly decluttering my social feeds something else I’m very conscious of is keeping my follow number to a reasonable amount. I find it all too easy to get overwhelmed when following a huge amount of people and I actually want to feel a connection to the people I choose to follow.
TAKING AWAY MY EXPECTATIONS
We’re all constantly bombarded with posts about if you work hard then you will grow online and have great success from it. And as much as I wish that was true, I don’t find it to be the case at all when it comes to social media and it’s very harsh algorithm that makes absolutely no sense. The subject of success is of course, very much a personal matter and not everyone measures it in numbers and more on impact or how they feel personally about something but, for the most part, we’re judged on our digital scorecards whether we like it or not. One of the hardest things that I’ve done over the past year is take away all my expectations when it comes to using social media, so things like not scrutinising my analytics or checking my follower count as soon as I get up and so many other damaging habits. Creating content that I simply like and pushing away the pressure of it getting a lot of likes or follows hasn’t been easy but it has made me a lot happier when it comes to pushing upload. I hate feeling like I’m owed something simply because I have an account on something, no-one owes us anything but it’s obviously a huge added bonus if someone does choose to like a post.
using it with a purpose
Sitting and scrolling through various platforms is something that I’m really trying hard to stop as I spend a good 4-5 hours on my phone daily and I think that's far too high. My biggest mission right now is that when I do open up any social media platform is to make it as productive and as fulfilling as possible instead of mindlessly consuming whatever is on my screen at the time. Even though I don’t follow a huge amount of people I still find it really easy to lose a good few hours a day to checking in on whatever everyone else is doing. Instagram I find is my biggest time suck, mostly I find it’s from watching everyone else’s stories which I do, of course, get some enjoyment from but I’m not sure it’s integral that I watch every single thing on my feed. So as of right now when it comes to the platform this is what I’m trying to do in order to use it with more purpose;
Make sure I’m regularly commenting & engaging on other people’s posts.
Creating content I’m really proud of.
Limit my time to the app to an hour a day (it’s currently two).
Only follow people who bring joy to my life.
Try and give something back to my audience regularly.