I have a lot to say about social media and how it shapes our youth, culture, and society. If you haven’t seen my first post on this subject, click here.
If you’re coming into social media brand new, I think it can be quite toxic if you don’t take certain precautions and tools to curate your feed. I’ve been a user of social media since the age of 10, the rise of Facebook. Yes, I had MySpace but 10 years old? Who’s MySpacing at 10 years old. I’m not trying to say I’m a social media expert, but I’ve learned a thing or two after being on the Internet for many years.
Social media can be fun, inspiring and a great way for you to connect and communicate with others. There are obviously some things that are out of your control, but I’m here to tell you what you can control in order to optimize your social media to a more positive space.
If I had to choose one major solution, I’d pick this one here. Who you choose to follow is in your control. I think it’s great when you feel inspired, lifted and are curious about certain accounts you want to follow but you have to realize who you follow will end up showing on your main feed. It starts becoming unhealthy when you deem posts as ‘goals’ and start questioning where you are in life. I was guilty of following many women who displayed a lot of false body image photos, news outlets and problematic influencers.
Now I have no issues on women displaying their sexuality and being confident, how you make your money is your business and I make no issue with that. My issue lies on how I feel as an individual and I am responsible for feeling the way I do when I see these images. Photoshopping, face tuning and overall manipulating a photo can put a strain your mental health. ‘Why can’t I look like that?’, or ‘Maybe if I try those teas or pills, I can have that body’. We have been struggling with this for years, before it was in women’s magazines and now it’s online. Capitalizing on women’s insecurities always works and you need to make you catch yourself falling into it. Unfollow people who make you feel negatively about yourself.
News outlets are important because you want to stay informed. I followed over 30 different new outlets on Twitter and my feed was just swarmed with deaths, natural disasters, and political agendas. Stay informed but don’t drown into your feed. Sometimes reading various heavy things everyday can exhaust you. I found that I didn’t need to follow every local news account, every national account and every world news account. I thought following more accounts made me an unbiased viewer and I can form my own opinion. The truth is, if one news outlet is covering it, then so are others. The goal is to follow one of your favourites per category: local, national, and worldwide. This way, you will still get reports but if you’re truly interested in a particular story, just use the search bar and use common terms. You don’t need to follow every account to be informed.
Following accounts that make you feel negative is forcing feeding yourself information you don’t need, especially when you’re already full of the same content. I’m not saying these accounts are toxic, I’m saying to limit the amount you consume.
Follow accounts that inspire you
This may sound counterintuitive to the previous point, but the idea is different. Unfollow accounts that make you feel negative but follow accounts that make you feel inspired.
These accounts can increase mood and motivation without displaying negative body image issues, negative mindset and/or jealousy. Follow quote accounts that make you feel inspired, happy, or even reflective. Follow animal accounts because who doesn’t love animals! Follow people who make you laugh or don’t take themselves so seriously. Lastly, follow accounts that don’t make it feel like there’s a person attached to it.
I personally love following journaling accounts, interior design accounts, food accounts and art accounts. When I see them on my feed, I feel inspired, hopeful, motivated, and joyful.
Treat your like as a monetary value
This may seem obvious and simple, but you need to be aware and conscious when you’re scrolling on your timeline. Sometimes I endlessly like every single post on my feed and wonder why my discover or recommended tab is filled with things I wasn’t interested in the first place.
Be aware and like things that make you happy and give reasons as to why you like the post in the first place. Endless liking can end up feeding you recommended posts that can lead you going through a dark rabbit hole of things that may trigger your insecurity, jealousy, and any negative feelings.
Never underestimate the algorithm, they will feed into what they think you value. You can like one photoshopped travel bikini post and then your discover page is filled with unreachable body standards. When I started caring about what I liked, I noticed my pages started to be filled with makeup tips and ideas, puppies and dog posts and beautiful artwork. See the difference?
Public and Private accounts
Okay, yes this seems unnecessary but hear me out. I have a food account and a personal account. I’m so glad I started doing this before the rise of the Instagram influencer era. My personal account is filled with my face, family, and friends – it’s also private. I only allow the people I care about in and no one else. My food account, however, is public and my face does show up here and there but for the most part, it serves a different purpose entirely.
If I were to publicize my private account, I’d fear that I’d attach a value to like ratio. I had one incident where my food photos had more likes than a photo with my face or body attached to it. I realized that the account that happened on was public and it serves a “foodie” purpose so naturally, more people would gravitate towards my food photo.
A pressure is lifted when I post to my private account. It feels like a cute small community because I only let the people I care about in and I know that whatever I post, my friends will like it. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with people I care about and not random strangers that have no idea who I am.
Social media can be so much fun if you curate it to your liking. A big sign that social media is becoming toxic is if you find yourself scrolling endlessly for hours, you feel exhausted and drained when you put your phone down, and you second guess everything you post. I started feeling all those traits for a while and I couldn’t figure out why.
Now, with incorporating all tips listed above, I find social media a more enjoyable experience. The most important thing to note here is to limit your time on your phone and start living your life outside the screen. Yes, it’s fun to see what’s everyone is up too but understand moderation and continue to practice living in the present.