I’m sitting on my couch after my 16-hour work day scrolling Instagram mindlessly because my brain is fried. Another perfect photo in Greece catches my eye. A picture with what I’d refer to as the “popular girls” grabbing mimosas is next. If I see another square promoting the same sweater I’ve already seen on six other accounts today, I’m going to lose it.
Social media makes it easy for us to play the comparison game. It makes it easy for us to throw pity parties because our real life isn’t as cool as what’s on the screen in front of us.
You always lose when you compare yourself to others. It leaves you feeling unworthy, unexciting, uninteresting, and overall worse. A study from the ADAA shows evidence that social media leads to increased depression, anxiety, and even some studies that look at it as an obsession.
Instagram and Facebook have been referred to as “highlight reels for the best moments in life.” We share photos in the perfect outfits, at the hottest dinner parties, traveling the world, our kids in their perfect outfits all smiling with ice cream. Where the realities are sometimes more like: I spilled wine on this dress I specifically bought to take a photo in, I attended a dinner party where I knew one person and the food wasn't even good, I took a trip where my luggage was lost and I spent half the time with a sinus infection, and the ice cream melted all over the kids and they started screaming at each other five seconds after I snapped that photo.
There are influencers that share the real and raw moments. They leave their bodies alone in the editing process, show their kids throwing a tantrum, take selfies without makeup, and genuinely post as they are. These raw moments challenge us to show a vulnerable side that, in some cases, opens the doors for critics.
If an influencer with a large following shows only perfect moments, he or she may be criticized for not being "real" enough. If the same person shows moments of struggle, they are judged for how they handle a tantrum or spilled wine.
These keyboard warriors criticize on social media in a way they might not criticize in a face to face situation. We can't win on social media and we have to figure out a healthy way to navigate it that is personal to us. We have to create authentic connection that allows people to see the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In my early years as an influencer, I couldn't help but to get caught up comparing my images, my partnerships, and even my content. I was imitating other people I realized I wasn't happy because I wasn't creating content I loved. The content I was posting did not match my overall goals and mission for my social media presence. I decided to start navigating Trendy in Indy by sharing what I love and what I'm passionate about with a goal to inspire others to share their own stories in a real, raw way.
I am by no means pretending to be a mental health professional, but when I find myself starting to compare or beginning to have negative thoughts about myself because of content I'm absorbing, I ask myself why. Is it the same person I am doing this with over and over? Is it a lifestyle I'll never live? What about the photo they've shared is causing me to question myself in a negative way? Here are a few things I do personally to keep myself in a positive headspace when using social media:
If I catch myself saying something negative, I turn it into a positive comment. Instead of "why is she getting to do that," I say "wow, what an amazing opportunity for her."
Follow people that align with my mission and goals. I enjoy following people that inspire me. I've learned what content I enjoy and what my audience enjoys, so I like to follow people that inspire me and are also in line with my mission. Jenna Kutcher is my go to account when I’m looking for that “you’ve got this, girl” kick in the butt I need.
Absorb content that betters me. I like to indulge in content that moves me forward and makes me want to act on growing my business or being a better person. I'll also engage with this content so that the person or brand knows they are making a difference in my life, that is so powerful.
Unfollow or hide content. I personally have never looked at who unfollows me, that is a waste of energy and emotion. But, if I feel that a specific person is the root my negative thoughts, I'll unfollow them or hide their stories. I'll even do this with followers who are saying negative things to me, immediate block. I’d challenge you to do this too.
Take a break and detox. Delete the app if you have to, but give yourself some time to disconnect every single day or even for a full weekend. The world will go on. When we went camping early this fall, I turned my phone off for the first full night we slept under the stars. I posted maybe 3 times on my story and one day, I didn’t even post a photo. GASP! But the social web kept spinning and all was okay. Most importantly, my head was clear and spending time with friends, unplugged from my phone, was refreshing.
If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say it. It's an old adage, but very much relevant and something I truly believe on social media. OR to update this: if you wouldn't say it to them in person, don't say it. Lastly, if you write it, THINK BEFORE YOU POST.
Spread love. At the end of the day, this world is filled with critics and people who just want to hurt others. Be the change. Share messages of love, positivity, and confidence. You can do this with your captions, but also with comments on posts and stories.
In general, we need to stop living our lives by the number of likes we are getting and starting focusing on the actual content we are putting out there and what impact it has on our audience. The brands I have long-term partnerships with don’t continue to work with me because of my follower count. They work with me because of the content I produce and the results we achieve together through the story I share with my tribe.
Cheers to using social media to better ourselves and our world,