How to Cultivate a Social Media Experience That Brings You Joy
1. If you’re searching for permission to unfollow someone, here it is: It is okay to unfollow anyone you want to unfollow.
A few years ago, a friend unfollowed me on Instagram (Yes, I used to have the app that told me when this happened). At first, my feelings were a bit hurt. But then I started thinking about how many people I followed actually gave me anxiety. People who whenever I saw they had a story or a new post I would feel a nervous energy take over my body.
The accounts that made me feel ‘meh’ ranged from my ex-boyfriend’s friends to fitness influencers to friends I had grown apart from. When I realized how much I was letting the pressure to not “be dramatic” and unfollow these people impact my social media experience, I felt inspired by the friend who unfollowed me. It was their Instagram experience and if I wasn’t a positive part of that experience, I’m glad they left. And I’m glad they inspired me to unfollow accounts that were not bringing me joy.
2. If you want to post something but you’re nervous about certain people seeing it: block them.
Seriously. Social media is a place where we can express ourselves. Where we can share our passions. Where we can connect with others who share our interests or life experiences. I remember one of the biggest things that held me back from posting fitness and BRCA content for a long time was the fear of judgment from others. Most of this fear was due to personal insecurity about the decision to leave my corporate job and my false sense that people cared what I was doing enough to judge it. But removing followers helped me feel more confident in sharing my life. When I started authentically sharing my interests, I created genuine connections with people all over the world I could relate to. I’m not saying everyone needs to or even should use social media to cultivate their community, but if your current followers are holding you back from posting the things you want to post, it might be a good idea to remove them.
3. Make sure you’re using social media and not just letting social media use you.
It is important to be aware not only of the content we are consuming but how we are consuming it.
Are you mindlessly scrolling at the end of your work day to relax or are you mindlessly scrolling to avoid tasks you need to complete?
Are you seeing content that interests you, teaches you new things, and makes you feel inspired? Or are you looking at content that causes you to compare your life to a glimpse of another’s?
My advice, have a conversation with yourself about how and why you are on social media. Does how you’re currently using social platforms align with your desired experience? If not, make a list of ways you can improve your relationship with social media. Choose one item off the list at a time and focus on it.
Social media is like real life, in that who we interact with and how we interact with them has real implications for how we feel. I hope we don't hang out with people who give us anxiety, so why follow them? We don't spend time with people we feel are there to judge us, so why allow them to observe our lives? And in general, we don't do things just to waste time and without delight, so why would we go down a mindless, joyless social media hole?