If you’re anything like me, you probably also spend a tonne of time on social media; scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, closing the apps and then starting over. It’s a pain, right? I see the irony in the fact that’s exactly what I’ve done before starting to write this post. I talked about this briefly in my recent 10 Ways To Practice More Self Love post, but let’s look a little closer.
Social media can be really great. You can meet awesome people, learn cool stuff, and look at pictures of tiny puppies for literally hours on end. But there are also some not-so-great effects it can have.
Notice how you can get stressy and angsty about it sometimes? Ever had a not-so-fun interaction and felt awful about it for hours? Sometimes you just end up needlessly stressed.
For those of us with a blog, social media is pretty unavoidable. Sometimes you literally have to spend time on there. But there are ways you can make it a more joyful experience, each and every time. And I’m here to show you!
So how does social media even affect you, anyway?
Your Ego runs the show.
I know we all like to sit and talk about how numbers don’t affect us and pretend like we are totally cool with the fact that Insta engagement has plummeted, but there almost always is a tiny piece of you that does seek that validation.
That part of you is your Ego, and it’s the same part that gets it’s back up at that one person that really bugs you, is butthurt when someone says a mean thing and sulks over how you only got 20 likes in an hour on your latest Insta because they shadow-banned you.
When you’re always on social media, it’s insanely difficult to keep this part of you in check because social media literally thrives on likes, comments, and ego boosting.
It can go the other way too. It’s a little embarrassing but the first time I got over 100 likes on a selfie I literally floated that ego high for days. Your post gets shared more than usual and your feathers puff up a bit. You get endless compliments from your twitter pals and constant validation of your every feeling and emotion, and your ego absolutely loves it.
You’re always on…
There are a few parts to this point. First, social media is always on and always happening, and this can affect your sleep, stress levels and emotional balance.
Are you surrounded by people who are constantly fighting in some capacity online? How does that make you feel offline? Do you cling onto that bad mood in other areas of your life? Or can a scuffle on Twitter literally ruin your day?
Secondly, you have constant, repeated validation of your every feeling and emotion. Sometimes, that’s great. I love when I’m feeling a bit ick and can pop in my group chats for some encouragement, but there are also times you need to sit with that feeling and let it settle.
Ever got angry and tweeted about it only to have everyone agreeing with you until you genuinely believe that your boyfriend not sharing his chips was a deal breaker? Ever come away convinced you’re in a toxic friendship because you only share the negatives online?
Remember, you only share the ultimate highs and ultimate lows (unless you’re like me and like to just tweet about how many dogs you met that day). It’s very easy for people to judge based on 4 or 5 negative tweets about your friendships and relationships, and assume you’re in a bad way. When really, you might have just been hangry.
Be cautious of what you’re sharing and learn to not instantly lash out. You’re never alone on social media, but sometimes you need to be.
…And Always Learning
You can pick up habits online just as easily as you can from spending too much time with one person.
Ever noticed yourself picking up words you wouldn’t usually come out with? It brings to mind the time when we were 15 and spending too much time on Myspace until people started saying “lol” out loud in conversation. This isn’t the only cringy habit from my teen years, but that’s a whole other blog post. You can also pick up other people’s fears and anxieties.
This isn’t always bad though! You can learn a lot from other people. The majority of my knowledge of feminism/equality has come from spending time online. It’s helped me get back on track with my own mental health by following some really incredible people.
It’s important to be mindful though, of what you’re taking in. What are you learning from your online circle?
We’ve all been there. You have a huge essay to write but you’ve been chain-watching Insta stories. You were supposed to start getting ready 45 minutes ago and you’re still scrolling Twitter.
Social Media is a huge procrastination enabler, and can really stop you from getting shit done when you allow it.
And in turn, this can really affect your mental health. You can feel guilty, anxious, jealous, and straight up miserable at times. Do you fall into the comparison trap often? Jealous of someone else’s holidays all over Instagram? Do you feel guilty for not doing things, and stressed because you left it to last minute? These are all signs that your social media might be getting the better of you.
So what can you do?
- Audit your social media, thoroughly and often. Someone bugging you? Gone. Seeing too many gross slaughter house videos from that one really aggressive vegan? Remove it. Your third uncle twice removed sharing Britain First memes? Mute him. Go full on KonMari and remove anything that doesn’t bring you joy – mute hashtags, block creepy men, unfollow the grouchy, nasty people who are always fighting others. Make it a fun space to be in.
- Follow what inspires you. It can be artists, speakers, other bloggers, people with cool Instagram feeds or cats. My feeds are slowly becoming full of speakers, healers, Reiki masters, crystal curators, body posi activists, cool as fuck women and the odd puppy account, and I feel infinitely better about my time online.
- Share the love yourself. Practice putting the good stuff out there. Audit what you’re sharing and how you portray yourself. That’s not to say you can never be negative or ever have an opinion, but just be mindful of how often you’re being negative.
- Wind your ego back in. Try not to get sucked in. Indulge yourself offline too, and practice ways to feel good that don’t involve being online. Work on your insecurities (there’ll be many, and more will come up, but it’s worth it).
- Detox where you need to. You don’t have to detox everything at once or full on go off the grid. Take some time off Facebook if your relatives or work friends are getting to you. Step back from Twitter for a few days. Stop scrolling Insta for hours if it’s getting too much.
- Mentalhealth.org.uk – Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health
- Psychology Today – Mental Health and The Effect of Social Media
- The Crimson White – How Social Media Affects Body Image
- ASAPScience – 5 Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Brain Right Now
How does your social media make you feel?