This seems to be quite a controversial topic that has been flying around for the last while now that I feel I really need to address it. People normally seem to shut down social media, calling it unhealthy and obsessive, a generally negative influence that makes us see the world through rose-tinted glasses and not through reality. While I believe there is truth to this, and I often talk about the cons of social media and how it can really impact negatively on our mental well being, this needs to be taken in context. If I was so against social media platforms I would certainly not be on them myself in the first place BUT I want to share how I use it to my benefit and not my expense and how you can too.
Social Media is toxic, when it is used irresponsibly.
Most users of social media platforms are just following anything that pops up that looks interesting or cool, funny or beautiful, right? I totally get it because I used to do the same, until I realised the negative impact it was having on me. It made me feel like my life was so ordinary and all it really achieved was helping me compare myself to others more readily. What I realised after giving it some thought, while on a digital detox, was that amongst all the influencers and celebrities there were some real people posting real and beautiful things. That most of it was just 'noise' creating mess in my mind but that some of it was real magic that made me feel like; I was learning new things, gaining a different perspective and actually helped me to feel inspired. This led me to a 'cleanse' in which I unfollowed every single account that made me feel negative about myself. From then onwards I was intentional about who I followed and wanted to see and hear from them because I knew it would make me feel good. The reason I share my own experience it is to show that we can all easily fall into this trap but that we actually need to hold ourselves accountable for what we expose ourselves to. This is what I mean when I say you should use social media responsibly.
There are many ways social media can actually uplift and inspire us, if used correctly and to our benefit. I have noticed a definite shift in our awareness as to making social media accounts more positive and uplifting. These kinds of accounts are available if we seek them out and choose to be intentional about what we are exposing ourselves to everyday. There are so many amazing, inspirational people out there who you can follow and what's even more amazing is that you can also be someone to spread positivity and inspiration to others.
You are in control of your social media platforms.
You have the responsibility to yourself to only follow accounts which influence you in a positive and healthy direction. Even the adverts that are directed at you, target you for a specific reason. Marketing tools show what your interests are and align the adverts shown to you based on what you are searching and following. If you are using social media to compare yourself to unrealistic representations of lifestyle and status then you are not using your social media responsibly and you are the only one at fault for the feelings of self-doubt and insecurities that occur as a result. This may be a hard pill to swallow but it's true and you need to start being more intentional about who you are allowing yourself to be influenced by.
So what are some of the benefits of social media?
Firstly, the amount of ACCESS we have. We can literally access just about anything, on any topic, from every corner of the globe these days! This means there are so many things to learn from such different and unique people. We have exposure to others opinions and perspectives and we can share our own views too. It's really incredible how we can have access to anything within a matter of seconds by running a quick search online. While having access is so incredible, it also means that we need to be asking questions and not taking everything we read at face value. Anyone can literally post about anything so don't believe everything you read. Rather than being influenced, try to look at everything with a questioning mind and take value out of what resonates to be true for you. Remind yourself that each person is an individual and this means they are one opinion, you are allowed to have a varying opinion, so don't be afraid to question and know the difference between thoughts and facts. If you're unsure about something then do some proper research or consult a professional before believing something radical that you found online.
Secondly, the CONNECTION aspect of social media. Let us not forget that these platforms are called 'social' for a reason and the reason they exist in the first place is to connect us to other people, like-minded or different from ourselves. When used correctly, we are able to engage in meaningful dialogues with other people; we can support each other with encouragement; and we can build existing and new relationships. It's a space where we can actually meet new people and learn so much from each other.
Thirdly, social media provides a platform for UPLIFTMENT in a world where there is a lot of negativity, suffering and hardship. A lot of accounts can make us more aware of the suffering in the world and it's not a bad thing to be exposed to this because we shouldn't just live in little bubbles. However, if you are following many accounts (or the news) which makes you feel constantly guilty and you're finding it to impact negatively on your mental wellness then you need to reassess. Rather than keeping up with all the hard hitting news daily, try to limit your exposure to it by checking up less frequently and finding local causes or charities, that you can donate to or volunteer for, to support instead. This will make you feel like you are actually doing something to contribute rather than sitting in despair each day, viewing all the horrendous events around the world. This will not help you or the people suffering. Start to find accounts and influences which are positive in nature and give you the feel-good vibes.
Lastly, because we have so much exposure to social media and so much information at our fingertips it also means that we can really RELAX when we take a break from these things. When we take a break from our devices we can really be mindful and get in touch using our senses to be present in the moment and appreciate time away from our devices. Regular social media detoxes are highly recommended for your mental wellness and should be seen as part of responsible social media use. Our brains need breaks from so much stimulation and time to process and just be in the moment. You may limit your daily or weekly use, or even try go without your devices for a day each month. A really great habit to kick is not starting your day or ending your day scrolling through social media but rather doing things that allow you to focus on you.
I hope you've found this insight helpful and that you can use it to apply to your social media use. You are the only one who is in control and you have a responsibility to yourself to maintain high standards for your mental wellbeing. What are some of the benefits you've found in using social media responsibly?