Social media is a big part of our culture. Designed to be woven into every aspect of our lives, social media has the ability to enhance or take-away from our everyday experiences. In over 20 years of existence, it's changed how we talk, spell, and communicate with each other. Social media has a lot of positive aspects. It brings a sense of closeness, community, and offers information that wouldn’t be accessible otherwise. Many of us have experienced the negative aspects as well. Social media is addictive and linked to growing cases of anxiety and depression. With everyone casting a perfect image of their lives on their platform, it’s easy to get wrapped up in comparison and unrealistic expectations.
However, we control what we take in on a daily basis. Social media is a great tool if it's used properly, and how it’s used is different for everyone. Being aware of social media’s effect on your mental health is the first step to taking charge and molding it so it positively impacts your life.
Create boundaries. As with all things, balance is everything. It’s easy to numb yourself with endless scrolling, wallowing in self-pity over your life not looking like everyone else’s Instagram feed. We’ve all been there. If social media is getting you down, know when to put your phone down and do something else. Shake it off with a dance party. Bake yourself something yummy. Read a book. Indulge in the beauty that is around you. Create boundaries that are right for you.
Tailor your accounts. Social media will either drain or feed your energy. When it comes to personal platforms, we get to choose what has our attention. Observe your internal response as you scroll through your social media feed and alter it to fit what you need. Follow accounts that inspire you, uplift you, and feed you. Go for inspiration over envy. Take full control over what you are filling your mind with. It’s okay to unfollow accounts that you notice have a negative effect on your mental health. Social media impacts life in so many ways—especially how we view ourselves. Self-care should always come first. When we boost ourselves up and fill ourselves with life-giving energy, we are able to pass that on in our interactions throughout our day.
Take breaks. In case you need to hear it from someone, it’s okay to take a break. A little detox is good for everyone, especially if you’re having a hard time sticking to your boundaries. Take whatever measures you need, whether it’s logging off for a while, setting a time limit on your phone, deleting apps from your phone, or deactivating your accounts. Social media will be there when you decide to hop back on. (And if you decide not to hop back on your platform, that’s okay.) Don’t let the fear of missing out stop you from doing what’s best for you.
Any validation or connection you are looking for cannot be fulfilled through social media. However, it is handy for maintaining connection, especially during a pandemic. The connection we need as humans comes from doing hard work with the people in our lives, by being vulnerable, honest, open, and real with the people we trust. This type of interaction needs time put in both on and off-screen. In our fast-paced, attention demanding society, it’s easy to miss out on the connections that are right in front of us. Social media is here to stay, and it’s only going to become more time-consuming. Mold it to work for you, not against you.
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Written By Jade Paxton for FRANC