Many of us have taken to social media as a form of entertainment and our main source of interaction over the past few months, and because of this, it is important for us to be mindful of how we are using these platforms to foster our growth and understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
2020 has been coming in waves of stress. With each month, during these times of constant changes and challenges, I was on the verge of a total breakdown. Well, honestly, I have broken down, multiple times. I’m okay to admit them.
I recently heard the phrase, “If you’re numbing yourself from pain, you’re numbing yourself from joy.” Essentially, if you refuse to accept the existence of pain, you inhibit yourself from accepting joy. Living in the age of social media, it is easy to get caught up in the constant flood of information, and unfortunately, the negatives tend to speak the loudest. I remember sitting on my bed, going down a rabbit hole of news sources. It felt like I was sitting there for hours, but it couldn’t have been more than 30 minutes. All of a sudden, I had tears falling down my face. At the time, I wasn’t knowingly stressed, but clearly, my body was telling me otherwise.
Since then, I’ve overcome a lot of personal challenges, each difficult in their own ways, and while I would’ve loved to power my phone off, grab a blanket, a bottle of wine, and binge-watch The Great British Baking Show (again), I knew that wasn’t going to be the best way to heal. I want to help create change in this world, as I’m sure you do too, but in order to continue to stand up and fight, I have to prioritize my mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
I understood that I needed to learn how to properly manage, restrict, and disconnect according to what my mind and body were telling me on a day-to-day basis. I underwent a social media detox, but not the kind of social detox you’ve come to know where people disappear by deactivating all of the accounts. Instead of shutting the world out, I chose to use technology to my advantage. I needed to disconnect from certain aspects of social media in order to reconnect with myself and the world around me. Social media platforms are not bad, but how you decide to use them determines whether they are toxic or revitalizing. I wanted to share my process of manipulating social media to become what I need it to be in order to best serve my current process of healing, understanding of others, and personal growth.
3 Questions to Determine If You Should “Unfollow” People on Social Media
The first and most important function on any social media platform is the unfollow/unfriend option. It is so simple yet so effective. Trust me, I understand, you don’t want to hurt anyone else’s feelings by hitting that “Unfollow” button, but you have a duty to respect yourself and who you allow to enter your inner circle. When it comes to “unfollowing” someone you have only interacted with less than a handful of times, it can seem easy, but when it comes to longtime friends and family, there are a few questions that need to be considered:
- Are both parties being respectful of each other’s views and opinions? Be sure that you aren’t attacking them as an individual rather than arguing in favor of your opinions.
- Can you allow yourself to hear them out? Sometimes the best way to grow stronger in your own views and ideologies is to understand the opposing side. Remember, understanding doesn’t mean agreeing.
- Are you open to having a conversation with them to respectfully express your views and to mutually listen to theirs? This has to be one of the most important questions to ask yourself, if you aren’t even able to bring yourself to hear them out, then why do you think they would want to listen to you?
If you are answering no to these questions, you might want to consider hitting that “Unfollow” button for they are likely no longer serving you on your journey of growth. If on the other hand, you are able to answer yes, especially to the last one, consider making time to actually listen to one another in a respectful manner.
3 Questions to Determine If You Should “Mute/Snooze” People on Social Media
If you don’t want to “Unfollow” someone, knowing that you two will see eye to eye after elections or a major sporting event, then on Instagram, you can “Mute” people, and on Facebook, you have the option to “Snooze” people.
Personally, this is my favorite option. Because it’s temporary, if you know that a certain individual is going to be talking dirty on a specific topic (ahem, the election), and you just don’t want to see it or hear it, you can be proactive and avoid the frustration by clicking that “Mute” button. Just like considering hitting the “Unfollow” button, here are a few questions to consider before hitting “Snooze”:
- Is the content that they’re sharing triggering you? This is crucial. Whether this individual is posting information out of good intentions or not, if you get a feeling of uneasiness, uncertainty, or frustration because of what they're sharing, you should consider limiting your exposure to them until you are able to find peace within to handle the information.
- Do you feel overwhelmed by their content or constant posting? Again, even if they are posting out of good nature, but if it’s starting to fall in the border of overwhelmed and triggered, it might be a good time to take a couple of steps back.
- Are you just straight up annoyed by them? It really can be just as simple as this. You don’t have to justify your decision to “Mute” someone if they are getting under your skin.
“Mute/Snooze” is the perfect option for those with who you have a good relationship but are not entirely on board with their current approach or outlook on a particular subject. If what this person is posting brings up previous traumas, you want to take the appropriate precautions to distance yourself from them before matters get out of hand. The same goes for those whose posts bring you to an eruption of anger. You can either choose to respond, but be sure to first think about your actions before reacting. If you aren’t sure if your reaction will be constructive or respectful, then hitting “Mute” might be the best option to preserve that relationship. While you can’t control what others are posting, you can control what you choose to expose yourself to.
Limit the Time You Spend on Social Media
After filtering out the kind of people whose content you’re seeing, it’s best to shift your focus on yourself and your own actions. The easiest way to do this is to set a timer on your app usage. Taking the time to put restrictions on your most time-consuming apps is the best option for limiting your chances of spiraling down a rabbit hole of information. As we all know, once you start scrolling it’s hard to stop, but when your phone physically stops you from getting too engrossed in content, you will quickly be able to snap back into reality. Creating these restrictions gives you a chance to better focus your energy and attention on the resources that are best serving you and your journey of self-awareness and healing.
Follow Positive Social Media Accounts
Personally, it’s really easy for me to get caught up in the dangerous rabbit holes of media content, but luckily, there are a lot of people out there using social media for good. For example, I am a total dog lover. I rescued a little chihuahua-terrier mix named Fry three years ago, and he has my whole heart. My love for these four-legged fur creatures has led me to some heart-warming content, and I wanted to share some of my favorite accounts with you to help lighten up your feeds:
- @bluenjy: This adorable Frenchie has been featured on Good Morning America and People magazine. What makes him so irresistible? Well, like many of us, he is a total foodie. I dare you not to smile while watching this adorable little guy chomp down pizza, watermelon, and bagels.
- @crusoe_dachshund: Crusoe has stolen the hearts of many, this little wiener dog is a People’s Choice Award winner and a New York Times Best Seller. Yes, a best-selling author. His silly adventures with his equally adorable siblings are sure to give you a good laugh.
- @milo_the_toller: He is one of the most photogenic pups I’ve ever seen! We can learn a lot from this handsome pup who constantly loves to stop and smell the flowers.
I believe that social media is this wonderful collection of entertainment, education, and community, but we have to remember that it is not a one-size-fits-all type of platform. And that is probably the most beautiful part about it.
- You get to decide what kind of content you want to be seeing.
- You get to decide who you want to learn from.
- You get to decide which communities you want to support.
While it can be easy to think that there are more negatives than positives in the world of social media, the best way for you to start brightening up your social media platforms is to post the kind of content you want to see more of. You don’t have to wait for someone else to start creating positive change. When things start getting difficult around you, first and foremost, you have to take care of yourself.
With post-election fatigue, we see a mix of joy and disappointment strewn throughout the internet. No matter which end of the spectrum you find yourself at, do whatever you can to offer a place of acceptance, understanding, and growth.
If you are disappointed with the future outcomes of the elections, prepare yourself for what is to come. Mute the people you know are going to do nothing but trigger you and start following and paying more attention to the people who inspire you. Create more strict time limits for each social media platform. Give yourself time to come in touch with your own emotions without the influence of those around you. You have to be your own advocate, your loudest supporter, and the friend you wish for when times get hard. Use your voice and be conscious of your energy because both possess an incredible power that can move mountains.