In today’s world, it is easy to feel as though social media is an inescapable part of our existence. The various platforms allow us to stay informed, to stay aware, and to stay connected, but the price of this connection can be steep when it comes to mental health. Social media breeds comparison, and comparison is famously dubbed as the “thief of joy”. If you are scrolling through the stream of facebook updates, tweets and instagram posts and find yourself thinking things such as “I wish my body looked like that” “Wow they have a much nicer home than I do” “I would be much happier if I had their lifestyle”, it may be time for a social media reset.
I say reset, because the premise a social media cleanse, or outright abandonment can feel overwhelming and maybe even impossible for those of us who have work or family commitments tied to social media. If you are not ready to unplug from our very plugged in world, you can instead use social media with more intention, to reap the benefits and temper the adverse mental health effects. Using social media with intention means curating a personal feed that feels safe, inspiring, and uplifting as opposed to cynical, critical and shameful. Rather than passively accepting the content presented to us, we can use the power to selectively decide what we expose ourselves to, and in turn can help foster a new mindset. If you are ready to curate your social media, and use it with intention here are some guidelines to get you started.
When deciding whether or not you should continue to follow or interact with a social media account ask yourself some questions such as:
Does this content make me question myself when I view it?
Do I find myself criticizing myself after viewing this content?
Do I notice myself becoming increasingly anxious, angry, or overwhelmed when I see this content?
Does this content align with my values?
Be especially aware of the “not ____ enough” reaction to social media accounts. Those comparison thoughts that make you feel you are not pretty enough, not wealthy enough, not traveling enough, not achieving enough, and so on and so on. The truth is social media can act as a highlight reel for individuals to showcase the shiniest aspects of their lives, and neglect to show the struggles, insecurities, and misfortunes that have affected us all at some point. When viewing social media it is important to remember this affirmation: “I cannot compare my entire story to someone else’s highlight reel”.
So you have decided that you want to purge your social media accounts and remove accounts that leave you feeling less worthy and less valuable. Now you are looking for accounts to replace those with. Here are some guidelines that may be helpful!
What are some things you are passionate about? Is it DIY home projects, the environment, mental health? Follow some accounts that align with your passions and spark inspiration in you.
What are some areas where you hold insecurities and are looking to develop confidence? Follow some accounts that highlight those areas in a positive light.
Maybe there is an aspect of your identity you want to develop more pride in, follow some positive accounts that show healthy representations of people like you.
What are some things you are struggling with, or unique challenges you have? Follow some accounts with focuses on similar struggles to remind yourself you are not alone.
Overall, social media is your experience. You do not have to passively engage with any content that harms your self image and self esteem. You have every right to create a social media experience that is healthier for you. At times, this may mean having to disengage from friends, coworkers, and even family. It is important to remember that setting boundaries to protect your mental health is not selfish, it is healthy, and it is necessary.