With the advent of social media, we find ourselves connected to others in a way that was not possible. Platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr, and twitter allow people to project an image of themselves for the world to see. I remember when Instagram first became popular, I was a freshman in high school and sort of awkward, so I thought it was strange that a platform based purely on pictures interested so many. I did not understand the appeal of taking pictures of yourself just so people can like them. I thought it was odd, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a bit daunting to fifteen-year old me. So, what did I do? I signed up for this quirky social media app and was immediately confronted by a barrage of photos ranging from people in lover, to people posting about miniscule changes in their lives. And it baffled me. I couldn’t comprehend how everyone was so happy all the time. Especially as someone who has battled crippling depression, I truly thought that there was something wrong with me, and often wondered why I couldn’t be like everyone else happy, healthy, and picturesque. Internally I wondered how I could change myself so I could fit into this online clique that everyone seemed to be a part of.
I wanted so much to be happy that I grew to resent myself for not being like everyone else. Until I realized exactly what I was looking at, a façade. No one is that happy, at least all the time and to even try to aim to be as happy or as perfect as what you see on social media can ruin your psyche because really there is no such thing as perfect and to constantly aim for it/ try to showcase your idea of perfect can be tiring. Which leads to the question, how can one both enjoy social media, while also realizing that no one actually posts the things they are dealing with? Well, here are some tips/reminders I have implemented in my own life to safe my psyche while partaking in the wild world of social media.
1. If you find yourself comparing your life to others, or if looking at people’s post is making you sad, envious, or any other negative feeling that impacts the way you view yourself, unplug. Nowadays it is not so uncommon for people to temporarily disable their accounts and almost all apps/sites have some form of temporarily disabling your account. I think that temporarily disabling your social media account(s) is a great way to reconnect yourself to your life and your interests outside of your phone. Take some time to unplug, immerse yourself in nature, art, or whatever else makes you happy. There is no set time that you have to be away, and you never know you might surprise yourself with how little you miss it.
2. Don’t be so hard on yourself! This is something that I struggle with on a day to day basis. From celebrities to Instagram models it is hard to not compare your looks, your current job and even future aspirations to those you see online. So, when you see someone who is in a place that you would like to be, or in the position you dreamed of don’t be hard on yourself. You’re trying your best, and that’s all anyone can ask of you.
3. Have fun! Social media should be fun. You are not on social media to be put down and it should not feel like a drag. It should be something that you go to when you want to have fun/be entertained. If you are not having fun or if it is taking a lot out of you unplug or find another application or website. Because, really life is too short to be worrying about social media and how others view you.