I don’t want to admit it, but the truth is, social media plays a fairly big role in my life at the moment and has done since I was 14. I’m aware of the trends, it’s where I get my latest news and it’s the reason why I’ll randomly giggle whilst being on my phone.
The world of social media is one that for all its faults, I’m deeply ingrained in and if I’m being completely honest I don’t see myself leaving for good any time soon.
The thing is, though I have some issues with the social media apps themselves, and have seen myself falling into the traps of comparison or feeling less than, they are still apps that I want to spend bits of my free time in (or use to procrastinate).
They’re my window into lives and worlds different from my own, and they’re also a means of keeping in contact with people from my past. So for me, its not about getting rid of the apps entirely but about changing how I use them to make each a safe space for my mind to be.
One of the ways I’ve improved the relationship I have with social media is by increasing my use of the “mute” button. There are a number of different scenarios in which I might decide to mute someone and it largely depends on how I feel at that moment in time.
Sometimes I can be relentless, but it is rarely ever personal, and I tend to mute or un-mute as I please. The beauty of the mute is that unlike a block, there is no chance of them ever knowing, so it’s a harmless way to curate my feed.
Further to this, something I did a little while ago, was go through my follow list and unfollow anyone who “no longer brought me joy”. It was a Marie-Kondo-esque culling that saw me unfollow a few people I knew in real life but mainly social media influencers and celebrities I’d at one point or another had some sort of interest in.
It freed up my mind and my feed, meaning the content I’m seeing now is much more enjoyable and adds value to my life.
To unfollow, mute, or even block someone, can feel like a brutal act but in reality if you’re spending time on social media, then you have every right to make each app feel like a place you want to be. So why not use the tools each app gives you to create a feed you take pleasure in scrolling through?
Of recent, I’ve also been taking regular “mental health breaks” from social media. Because sometimes, regardless of the measures you take, it can all still become too overwhelming. I find that when things in my own life are getting too much, my bandwidth to deal with apps like Instagram is far lower, so I simply delete them and focus on what’s important.
It’s not ever as dramatic as it sounds, I’m usually back by the next day, but having a mini timeout or break can sometimes be all I need to clear my thoughts.
What I’m learning through navigating my relationship with social media is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s not either you use it and accept your mental health suffers as a result or don’t use it and never know the name of the next Kardashian baby.
I’ve opted to use social media in a way that works best for me. I’m there when I want to be and the people on my feed don’t drive me insane. It feels like a good balance for right now, and we’ll see how this continues to evolve with time.