there are SO many good things about social media, like the opportunity for connection and encouragement and inspiration, and i’m going to do a separate post (part 2!) about all of the amazing aspects very soon. but today, i want to share some outcomes of social media usage that aren’t so meaningful, inspirational or encouraging and discuss how the right perspective on something powerful and good like social media can easily shift to something skewed and not-so-great. without further ado:
the comparison trap:
have you ever felt bad about yourself because your life doesn’t look like the perfectly curated Instagram squares of other people’s lives online? do you ever feel like your Facebook feed is flooded with other people’s exciting life updates – marriages and new jobs and babies and home ownership – when your own feels boring in comparison? or perhaps jealous because of someone’s impeccable #minimalliving or trendy #ootd when your home feels cluttered and today’s outfit is old leggings and a giant sweatshirt? please tell me i’m not the only one…(and yep, that’s what i’m wearing right now as I type this.)
there’s this thing called the social-comparison study arguing that people track and access their self-worth by comparing themselves to others and how this can lead to insecurities and feelings of insignificance. when we’re bombarded with seeing all the cool things people are doing and wearing and eating online, we can often feel like what we’re doing and wearing and eating isn’t quite measuring up. and that isn’t how our lives are meant to be lived at all. i’m striving for less comparison and more contentment. less of that “less-than” feeling and more “I am enough” no matter what my home, clothes, relationship status, whatever looks like. for more about comparing on social media (and why/how to stop), check out this article and this one too.
the urge to constantly refresh/check my phone:
some of you probably don’t quite understand this and I’m jealous of you for having a healthier relationship with social media than I do. as someone who works in social media and genuinely *usually* likes social media, i find myself ALWAYS GLUED TO MY PHONE and ALWAYS CHECKING/REFRESHING. when i’m bored, I check my phone. when i’m sitting at home drinking tea with E and there happens to be a gap in the conversation, I check my phone. before bed, I check my phone. it’s become a really bad habit that I want to break. one thing I’m trying to do to combat constant phone checking is to bring a book or journal in my bag, so I can divert my attention to something a little more meaningful (for me) when I feel the urge to check Facebook/IG/Pinterest/Snapchat/Twitter/every app possible.
my friend melissa told me about an app called moment that shows you how often you pick up your phone and how much time you spend checking each app on your phone. YIKES. she said it’s super eye opening and if you’re someone who feels like you’re always checking your phone (yep, me for sure), then this app sounds like a helpful way to monitor yourself and evaluate your social media habits.
the “i should have an active online presence” pressure & obligation:
I’ve spent my entire career doing social media for brands and businesses and telling them the importance of consistent content – sharing regularly and giving your followers consistent news, information and so on. i’ve been “active” on social media personally since college, but recently, I’ve felt an overwhelming pressure to create and share and engage. and then guilty when I’m not doing so. other people seem to be able to actively post content and interact with others so regularly – why shouldn’t I?
I was talking about this with a friend who mentioned she felt the same struggle and pressures. it was difficult for her to be active online – share her workouts, promote brands, attend Twitter chats, review products, etc. – while juggling a full-time job and new baby. she felt an obligation to share and engage on social media all the time, because she was in an online community of others who did so, and expected her to do the same. separately, I was recently introduced to the idea of “comment pods” on Instagram, where you share your posts with a group via direct messages and everyone is supposed to comment on your photos to boost your engagement, and you’re expected to do the same back. at first I liked the idea…it seemed like a cool way to support some gals on IG that I like and help boost engagement on my own account at the same time. but then it turned into this deep, dark rabbit hole where I constantly felt obligated to comment on SO MANY PHOTOS and a lot of the comments I was getting back felt inauthentic and pointless, like “great feed” and “keep up the good work.” (um, thanks?).
when social media starts to feel like an obligation and a chore, i think it’s time to re-evaluate how you spend your time on any given platform, and find ways to manage your stress accordingly. for example, right now I have to stay active on my client’s Instagram and Facebook page because it’s my job – but I don’t need to force myself to constantly always do the same on my personal accounts.
I was talking with another good friend who mentioned she was having an amazing weekend trip with her husband, but then checked IG and saw that her friends were at a weekend trip and never invited her. she immediately felt the all-too-common FOMO (fear of missing out) and was in a bad mood afterwards. often times, social media can make us feel discontent in the moment we’re in – even if we are also doing something amazing and fun at the same time! being glued to what other people are doing and sharing takes away the joy and presence of being right where we are IRL.
the obsession with affirmations:
hi, I’m Andi and I crave affirmations. for real though, my love language is words of affirmations and I feel most loved/accepted when I’m given genuine compliments and affirmed. it’s even for silly small things, like my dad telling me (again and again) that yes, he did like the gift I gave him for Christmas. ha! often my perceived insecurities stem from a lack of encouragement and approval and i’ve noticed that social media can play into this. sometimes i’ll actually think, “wow. no one has commented on this photo or Facebook post. why did i even post this?!)” or be annoyed when one photo or tweet isn’t liked liked/retweeted/responded to as much as something else I’m shared. IT’S SO SILLY AND RIDICULOUS THAT MY BRAIN IS RESPONDING THIS WAY. i’m trying to remind myself to embrace this bob goff quote: “the more we fill our lives with purpose, the less time we’ll spend looking for approval.” I don’t always feel like this, but I’ve noticed that it can be really easy to use social platforms as ego-boosting, approval-craving tools. Instead, let’s think of them as purposeful platforms for connection, inspiration, encouragement and community.
if you’ve made it to the bottom this post, seriously WOW and thank you for reading! I’d LOVE to hear what you think – if you’ve ever noticed any/all of these effects social media may have on your mindset, self-worth and mood. the most important thing to remember, all the time, is that our real life (compared to the virtual self) needs to be cared for, loved, celebrated. sometimes taking a few days off or re-evaluating how much time we spend on our phones makes all the difference.
stay tuned for part two of this topic coming soon! i’m going to be sharing a few reasons why i appreciate social media and chat about a lot of the goodness and awesomeness it brings to my life! xo