Hello there, boys, gals, and non-binary pals. Mada here. This article comes as an unrequested personal urge to help people with their bleah feelings towards social media channels.
Social media has long been seen as a buzzword for things like manipulation, superficiality, “not a real job,” and so forth. People have been complaining about social media ever since its existence, but lately, I seem to be hearing it more and more. Friends and acquaintances, all united against this big, bad wolf.
Now, in all honesty, I can agree that social media might be an invention of the devil, in a way. But it’s kind of a necessary evil at this point, don’t you think?
“If you’re not on social media, you don’t exist.” 👻
Some people don’t even want to exist in the digital world, which is completely understandable. Who can blame them? But what can the rest of us do then? We can’t all fall off the world wide web. For some of us *wink wink* it’s literally our job. And even if your situation is not that extreme, you still might want to keep in contact with people you actually like. Or maybe you’re a small business owner that wants to get personal with their community. There are an infinite number of reasons for wanting to keep it, but only one is for sure – it needs to be social.
So how can we achieve a healthy interaction without deleting all the apps in a frenzy because of haters (btw, haters gonna hate so don’t even bother), always ads with stuff you can’t afford, or influencers having the “perfect” life. In 2023 all it should be trending is authenticity.
Disclaimer: This is a practical guide on how to take action. I’m not going to get into all the psychotherapy practices we should all be practicing anyway, for overall mental health. So go do your work there! It’s life-changing and you’ll thank yourself later for finally taking the step. It’s like putting on reading glasses after you’ve been squinting your eyes at life for too long.
So put on your reading glasses and apply any of the following. I promise they’ll help.
1. Let Go Of The Fear – Unfollow, Mute, Delete, Block 🙉
By now it should be doctor’s orders. Even in psychotherapy, they tell you it’s ok to remove from your life what gravely bothers you. For most people this will seem extreme because of the way they were raised, but if it were any other kind of toxic relationship, would you just stay and watch?
So go ahead and unfollow those people who hurt your stomach, whether they’re a relative or an influencer. Mute that chat that only brings you misery disguised in friendly interactions. Delete all those former classmates from high school that looked down on you. It’s ok. They might be a different person now, but you don’t know that and you’re not curious to know maybe just yet. Block whatever needs to be kept at such a distance.
2. Make Better Choices 🦉
And I don’t mean choose the better wine that won’t give you a headache, instead of the cheaper version even if you can’t tell by taste. You’ll know by morning anyway.
Don’t shoot the messenger, but if your feed is toxic it is because you follow toxic people and engage with toxic content. Just last month, Adam Mosseri (God of Instagram and destroyer of social media managers’ hopes) released a longer-than-usual video explaining how the ranking of content works on Instagram. To simplify it, they take a guess based on your previous behaviour and if they’re right, they keep delivering that to you. So simple it’s almost Pavlovian *synchronised barking* 🐶
The good news is, you can change your preferences at any time. If you stop proving their former hypotheses right, they will produce new ones to confirm and deliver, because they want you on their platform as much as possible.
3. Reduce Screen Time 🌊
Have you ever looked at how much time you spend in front of your screen? It might surprise you, and most people are not pleasantly surprised when they find out. In fact, the second most googled question, when I researched time limits on iPhone and Android, was “Is iPhone screen time accurate?”. It’s honestly hard to realise how much time that is when most apps are designed specifically to never leave them – that’s why the infinite scroll was created!
One way to see this shocking/unshocking number is to go through your settings (available for both Android and iPhone), acknowledge that number and set limits for yourself. When you hit the time, the phone will let you know. You can either snooze it (mmm morning alarm clock trauma) or stop it for the day.
4. Digital Detox 🥬
It involves no horrifyingly bitter, greenish juice, I promise! Throughout your life, you’ve probably heard by now of endless kinds of detox. I’m not entitled to comment about those but I definitely am about a digital one.
I didn’t know at the time, the phrase was probably not even invented (🚨 hipster alert), but I used to shut my phone for days when I was a teenager. The constant beep beep, calls and vibrations of the phone were simply too much for me sometimes. By no means was I popular but feeling socially exhausted is kind of a hobby since I identify as an extroverted introvert. So I would simply turn it off. A lot of my friends didn’t understand it at the time, and it was probably annoying for them as well not to be able to reach me. But here’s another disclaimer – I can be hard to find now as well. I don’t need to turn off my phone voluntarily since it shuts down by itself by forgetting to plug it in. I joke now, but I like to live “dangerously” as some people told me.
Jokes aside, you can go more realistically than me with your social media breaks. I know people that don’t check their social media on the weekends, some try to leave their phones at home every now and then, and some even delete their Instagram/Facebook/TikTok accounts for a while. Most come back, but I encourage them to do it in a heartbeat if that’s something that they want to try to see how it feels.
5. Embrace The Power Of Incognito – An Internet Tailor-Made Ninja Suit
If anyone’s googled me… spoiler: I just kind of exist – in terms of social media. I exist, but I’m not very seen. I am quite a private person, thought to not be confused with being open. I definitely talk a lot with a pinch of oversharing, but being the control freak that I am, I want to choose who I do that with.
How do I do that? I have a Finsta – if you’re not familiar with the term, it’s a short term for Fake Instagram, usually used by teens, young adults and over-controlling me. When the term was coined, Instagram had yet to introduce the “Close friends” list on Stories, which I use as well along with the Finsta.
You definitely don’t need to over-engineer it like me but basically, you could have the “presentable” account that you show to some people and another one you use with your closer people. To me, it is one of the most liberating things – to be able to share anything freely with just a few handpicked people that I don’t need to explain anything to. It’s kind of my journal, in a way, through which I keep a close relationship with people I actually like.
6. Here’s A Wild Idea: Go Out More ☀️
Firstly intended as a joke and completely ironic. You definitely know the good, old, annoying to say the least, joke about going out more when you’re upset or depressed. But in both contexts, going out more, especially in nature, or connecting with your friends in real life, could help you immensely. And it’s not me who says that, it’s science!
It’s the same principle. If you stay away more from what harms you, you’ll definitely feel better and healthier!
So how many of these have you tried? How many have worked for you? I’m honestly curious about your experience with social media and how you usually talk about it. What I said in the beginning, about people around me complaining more and more – completely true. So I am genuinely curious. And I might be defending it because it’s my job (that I love, unlike my former career) but the key to anything toxic/bad/not so great is boundaries.
Try it and let me know.
And if you want to talk some more, we’re waiting for your DM on Instagram.
Your social fairy and mental health advocate,