If you’re in your early twenties, you surely have been around Facebook or MySpace since you were 13 years old. My consumption and usage of Social Media has quite evolved from 13 to 23, and not only for the better. But first, how could we describe it? Online, multiple definitions exist, so we could resume it as follows:
Social Media is the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration.
So, Social Media engages dialogue, and that is amazing. I love the Internet.
From my early times on Myspace, Tumblr and Facebook to Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, I’ve not been the only one to realize that, although I have made some great connections, encounters, and expended my views on topics I never had an opinion or education about, Social Media and the way I’ve been using it these past few years made a disservice to my self-confidence; from major FOMO when Snapchat was just in, to having unrealistic expectations towards my body comparing myself to said Instagram « models », the summum of perfection. Some people even get depressive thoughts from constant comparison…
But, I’m convinced control over our consumption of it can be taken back, it’s all about perspective. So here are some tips I want to share that helped me have a more enjoyable experience on our beloved platforms!
1 – YOU DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW EVERYONE AND ANYONE
When I first started on Instagram, for exemple, I went crazy over the amount of the World you could see only through simply edited photos. I used to love following plenty of landscape pages, luxury destinations, random people from all over the globe. As the years went by, and Instagram gained a well earned popularity, thus more users, I followed more people; more beautiful men and women, more beautiful feeds, you know, the ones who seem to have it all together. In fact, I love a pretty and original feed, but the danger comes in when you perceive this feed as an approved reality, even worse, as the reality you WISH you had, it’s deeper than inspiration…
That’s why I find it very useful to limit and categorize my following, of course, I follow my personal and extended circle, but when it comes to strangers/other Instagram users I don’t go crazy. Just because you stumble upon a beautiful page doesn’t mean you absolutely HAVE to follow it. Same goes for a pretty face, a pretty body, pretty landscapes, pretty everything. Make sure to mostly follow people you relate to, people that inspire you, whatever your goals and aspirations are. Actually, I prefer following people who inspire me to be better and to do better, over people who influence me just because I wish I had their life (and feed), or looked like them, but my personal opinion on “inspiration vs influence” is for another debate.
2 – FIND THE BALANCE BETWEEN ADDICTION AND PLEASURE
I’m sure I’m not the only one who, knowing damn well I must be up the morning after, found herself scrolling through the timeline, refreshing Twitter, at 3:45 am, well past a healthy bed time. That my friends is a kind of addiction, and I know, I know, we don’t like this word, it’s scary and ugly. Addiction to social media is even more powerful on people who tend to be extroverted (hello), are bored, or need constant validation, interaction, a way out from something deeper; fears, loneliness, anxiety, etc, I realized after taking a step back. There’s also this odd masochist satisfaction we get from scrutinizing someone’s page, an ex-lover-friend-anything, someone we admire, etc (guilty).
But, I won’t be that person telling you social media is the devil, unnecessary, for the masses, etc, to the contrary. It will depend for everyone but the key here is to find balance in your scrolling. A few days « detox » is a great start; you’ll see how long you can actually be offline without going insane haha. After that, it will be up to you to limit yourself; 15 minutes every 4 hours to scroll Instagram, 1 hour to go through all platforms everyday, checking your feeds every 2 days, really, there are no rules. Just be aware of when pleasure turns into addiction, a good indicator is that zombie-like look you might have after a while, your eyes will tell you.
3 – DON’T BE ASHAMED OF ENVY, COMPARISON, AND ANXIETY
After all, it’s in our faces everyday; ideas of beauty, the best lifestyles, the best ways to think, what success looks like, relationships, etc. You’re not helping your self-confidence when blaming yourself for having a slight hint of envy over a “seems to be perfect page”, or “perfect” face, or feeling underachieved and unsatisfied with your life from the blatant success others show. It’s actually better to manage those feelings than suppress them entirely, because guess what?
They’ll only come back STRONGER, and you’ll feel even more shameful for having them…
I find it very useful to acknowledge those feelings, mainly portrayed as ugly. But, trust me, there is so much power in understanding WHY you felt envy towards a page, towards someone. When you take a moment to question yourself on this envy, you can dig deep into your own insecurities, you can trace their roots, you can readjust your own way of thinking. Comparison is clearly the thief of joy, but understanding why we compare ourselves to begin with is a real step towards balance, if you ask me, the real perfection.
4 – CREATE THE FEEDS YOU WANT, THE ONES THAT WILL EMPOWER YOU, THAT YOU WILL ENJOY
I want to put the emphasis on the fact that you DON’T have to follow the same people on all the social media platforms that exist. I think you wouldn’t necessarily want to follow all the faces you follow on Instagram on Twitter for exemple, same goes for LinkedIn or even your fave YouTubers. I find it quite exciting to have multiple-subjects feeds, this way you ensure not to stay stuck in a narrow thinking system and view of the World, as we already know, Social Media is all about algorithms; what you like, retweet, share, click on, is what you’ll see more of.
Do everything to create a feed where you feel empowered, safe, entertained, amazed, challenged, supported and more, while remembering your real everyday life and social interactions matter just as much, wait, more. Don’t be ashamed to refresh your followings, you’re an ever growing person. Don’t be ashamed to unfollow a page if a post made you feel embarrassed, annoyed, insecure, or all three.