*I'd like to preface this post with the knowledge that I am not a mental health professional nor do I experience mental illness. The below post includes my thoughts on how social media effects our thoughts of ourselves and our lives as a whole.
How many of you find yourself scrolling Instagram and saying "wow I wish I had that," "wish I could do that," "I'm not that pretty,"? If you aren't raising your hand, you're lying to yourself.
Social media makes it easy for us to play the comparison game. It makes it easy for us to throw pity parties because our life isn't as cool as the people we follow. Or so it seems. Guys, there is actual evidence that social media leads to increased depression, anxiety, and even some studies that look at it as an addiction.
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: this dress I bought specifically to take a photo in and spilled red wine on, the dinner party where I knew one person and the food wasn't even good, this trip I took where my luggage was lost and I spent half the time with a sinus infection, and the ice cream melted all over the kids about 5 seconds after I snapped that photo and they started screaming at each other.
There are people out there who share the real and the raw moments. There are people out there who leave their bodies alone in the editing process, show their kids throwing a tantrum, take selfies without makeup, and who genuinely show up as they are. These raw moments challenge us to show a vulnerable side that, in some cases, opens the doors for critics.
I think that's a huge part of why people don't show these moments or even why they do. If we show only perfect moments, we are criticized for not being "real" enough. If we show moments of struggle, we are judged for how we handle it. These keyboard warriors criticize on social media in a way they might not criticize in a face to face situation. What I've come to realize, is that we can't win on social media and we have to figure out a healthy way to navigate it that is personal to us.
For my role as an influencer, it was easy for me at the beginning to find myself comparing my images, my partnerships, and even my content. I was just trying to do what other people were doing when I realized I wasn't happy with that because I wasn't creating content I loved. It didn't make any sense to my overall goals and mission. I decided to start navigating Trendy in Indy by sharing what I love and what I'm passionate about with a goal to inspire.
When I find myself starting to compare or having 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:
- Turn it into a positive comment. If I catch myself saying something negative, I turn it into a positive. 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. As I mentioned, 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.
- 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. 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. Sometimes, that's what you have to do.
- 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.
- 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 CLICK 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.
Cheers to using social media to better ourselves and our world,