Hey Lovelies and welcome back to the Be Kinder to Yourself Series!
In our first post we were discussing toxic relationships and the affects they can have on your well-being. This week we’re stepping away from real-life and delving into the world of social media.
Obviously we all know how massive social media has become over the last 10 years. What once began as a form of entertainment has evolved into not only an unrecognisable beast, but a way of life. During this evolution, social media has gained a bad reputation as a trouble maker and is known for being a bit of a bitch. That being said it is important to remember that it does have a huge number of positives (I mean, just think of all the puppy accounts you can follow on Instagram!) I’ve even written an article for The Student Pocket Guide discussing the various pros and cons of social media (which you can read here).
Despite the many positives, the beastly side of social media can have a detrimental effect on our happiness. In this post we’re looking at some of the ways we can be kinder to ourselves when it comes to our online presence (and don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to just delete all of your accounts).
I think the most important thing to remember when it comes to social media is that it isn’t an accurate representation of life. It’s a snapshot of some of our best and most exciting moments and that’s the same for nearly every account you visit. I don’t mean to sound as though I’m teaching you to suck eggs as let’s be honest, we all already know this! We know this and yet we’re all guilty of getting jealous. We constantly spend our free time (and our time at work if we’re crafty enough) scrolling through various social platforms and gazing longingly at a friend from school’s engagement photos, or an old colleague’s holiday snaps. Whilst we scroll ourselves into a rut we seem to forget that some of our followers are probably getting just as jealous over the best bits of our lives.
Another massive issue with social media is tone. You can very rarely gage the intended tone of a message through a screen. Over the years I’ve seen so many arguments erupt due to messages or statuses and the recipients reading them completely wrong. The invention of Emojis were honestly a godsend as we can now add a cheeky wink or a smiley face to prove we come in peace when trying to have a little bit of banter.
If you ever find that the online cons are getting too much it’s time to take a step back and question what social media is actually bringing to your life. If it isn’t informing or bringing any joy, why are you following it? Social Media began as a source of entertainment, not a way of life. If it’s making you unhappy, something needs to change.
One small change could be promising yourself to make use of mute. We all have that one friend who we wish would just “SHHH”. Away from social media they may be the loveliest of people and so unfriending or unfollowing may feel a little harsh. If that’s the case don’t forget that many social platforms allow you to mute a user and their activity. You’ll stay “friends”, you’ll no longer be burdened with photos of their manky tea and they’ll never even know. It’s a win win situation right?
That being said sometimes a small change isn’t enough. Occasionally we need to make a big change to find happiness and you may find that change comes in the shape of a social media blackout.
Making the initial break is hard but the best tip I can offer would be to find a reason to take a break. Of course to help your mental health is a brilliant reason, but I find it doesn’t seem to encourage people enough. Instead combine the break with something you’re excited for. For example my first break from social media was during my trip to New York. Seeing as this was my dream holiday, I had decided to actually live in the moment and not through my screen. When we first arrived in our hotel I sent a post across my various platforms advising I’d landed safely and I’d be away from social media for the duration of the trip. After pressing send I spent the next 30 or so minutes having hot sweats whilst wondering whether I had any likes or comments. Once I had began to focus on my adventure I very quickly forgot all about the online world and said status. Since that holiday I’ve deleted the Facebook app and now only go on the website to clear notifications once a fortnight. I may not be quite ready to completely delete my account, but I’ve found that I’m so much happier without it. Sometimes we just need a small break to realise how much of a negative effect certain things were have on us. Since that trip I try and put myself on a social media blackout whenever I go on holiday. I’ve paid to visit these places, it’ll be nice to actually give them my full attention.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of social media and it’s easy to forget to look after ourselves. If you feel as though social media is having a negative impact on your life it really is time to reevaluate. As I said earlier, I’m not going to tell you to go cold turkey and delete your accounts as, at the end of the day, social media really does have its positives. Instead try to begin limiting or reducing the time you spend on each app per day. If you reduce your “allowance” by say 15 minutes per week you’ll find the urge to scroll will shrink over time.
You deserve to be happy but sometimes we have to take our happiness into our own hands. Only you know what needs to change in your life.
If you do feel as though you’re struggling and are looking for professional health please please head to see your GP as soon as you can. Nobody should suffer alone and it’s so important to remember that you deserve to be happy. Sometimes we just need a little help to find that happiness and that’s okay. I’ve also attached a few links if in case you were looking for help online.