I’m going to start this article by saying that I work in marketing – more specifically, social media. Yes, I spend my days creating content, strategizing, scheduling, and analysing. And you know what? I love it! It’s an exciting job that didn’t exist when I was a kid and one that is continuing to expand into new dizzying digital dimensions. Here is where I’m going to get controversial though. I actually have a real love/hate relationship with social media.
I don’t feel this way when it’s work, in fact I’m more often than not excited to get to work each day and find new and creative ways to connect with clients and customers through engaging content. It’s when those platforms become personal that I struggle with this internal conflict of wanting to doomscroll my way through Instagram and go completely off-grid. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I’m sure we’ve all thought about it at one point or another.
Social media can be an amazing tool for connecting with people all over the world. Friends, family and co-workers can stay in touch with each other anytime and anywhere – something that has been a life-saver for many of us over the last 18 months. On the other hand social media can also be quite a dark place. Recent studies have shown that Facebook has knowingly downplayed data that suggests Instagram is toxic for young women. The damning and shocking results showed that 33% of young women felt worse about themselves and their bodies after scrolling through the platform. The fault certainly lies with the giants like Meta, who own Facebook and Instagram. They are simply and plainly not doing enough to protect people from the harmful effects of social media and the impact that it has on mental health. For media that is so easily and regularly consumed by a large portion of the planet, more needs to be done by these companies to ensure that people are being properly protected from harmful content.
Look, we get it, social media is fun. I personally love scrolling endlessly through TikTok in search for cat videos, but like many people I find that all of these platforms can become overwhelming. We have all dealt with both the positive and negative effects of social media at one point or another. Why is this? And more importantly – how can we make sure that social media remains fun without becoming toxic? Some people might want to get rid of it completely and that’s fine, but for those of us who don’t want to entirely switch off from it, learning how to live around it is crucial.
One of the biggest reasons for these negative feelings is that we don’t always take into account that the sky on Instagram isn’t the same blue as it is in real life. I don’t just mean because of filters, either. What I really mean is how we can get so swept away by how things look on social media, that it can change our perception of real life. We get pulled out by the tide among waves of photos of perfect lives. Seeing a constant stream of celebrities, influencers and even people we went to school with begins to convince us that we’re not achieving enough.
The saying, ‘The grass is greener on the other side’ has never been truer than it is in our socially connected world. Kylie Jenner’s life might be ultimate goals but is the grass really greener? That’s what I try to tell myself whenever social media gets too much. After all, we only ever see the good, carefully constructed parts of people’s lives. It’s a glimpse through the keyhole, not an all-access pass. Of course, there is a touch of envy in all of us, especially when we see things we wish we had in our own lives, but it’s when we take social media too seriously that we lose sight of all the good in our own lives. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it. I, like many, am still learning this and there are times when I can’t see this for myself. However keeping this at the forefront of my mind whenever those feelings arise has had a more positive impact on how I personally consume Social Media.
We are constantly consuming information in today’s world and this overload can certainly heighten these negative feelings. Plus, it can be exhausting even if you don’t realise it. Sometimes we just need to step away from it for our own sakes. If you too are struggling with social media, if you feel the dread when scrolling, stop for a second. Put the phone down and go and do something you enjoy. Don’t worry about sharing it with your followers, just go and be in your own bubble for a short while. Run, write, draw, read and reconnect with yourself. You will feel much better when/if you do decide to go back to it. It is also equally as important to reconnect with those closest to you IRL. You might think that your friend is doing well because she posted photos from her sunny holiday, but a real chat about her holiday over the phone or face-to-face will mean much more to her than any like on a photo. You never know when people might need you the most.
If the world of social media does get overwhelming, you can step away for as long as you like. Whether it’s an hour, a day, a week, a month or a year – it will be there when you get back. And whether you love it, hate it, love to hate it or all of the above, the most important thing that we can tell ourselves is that social media doesn’t define us and will never define us. What we put out into the real world matters infinitely more.
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