Author: August Clarke
In a day an age where it is nearly impossible to avoid internet interaction – especially as a teenager – it is increasingly important to ensure that you are using social media responsibly. Applications such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Reddit (to name a few) have lots of great benefits and opportunities to connect with others; however, like anything else, they can have negative side effects too.
Take Instagram, for example.
It is a great place to share photos with your friends and offer empowerment and validation to other people (and, in theory, receive some in turn). Many people love social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook for the social aspect and the opportunity to publish a piece of their lives for others to see. That said, when the need to accumulate likes and followers starts to supersede the desire to connect with others it can become a competitive and hostile environment.
Every form of social media has its benefits and downsides – it is important to check in with yourself from time to time to see how you are interacting with each individual platform. Be honest with yourself. If you find yourself obsessing over your follower count or how your latest selfie didn’t get as many likes as the last did, it might be time to partake in some serious reflection on what your next move should be.
Remember, it is okay to take a break! It is easy to fall into a routine of posting and feel the pressure to stick to your “schedule”, but sometimes stepping away from your virtual life offers you a well-need refresher.
Be honest with yourself. If you find yourself obsessing over your follower count or how your latest selfie didn’t get as many likes as the last did, it might be time to partake in some serious reflection on what your next move should be.”
Nearly three years ago, I realized that my social media consumption had become more emotionally taxing than fun and had increased anxiety and issues with self-perception. I decided it was time for me to take a temporary break from using social media, such as Instagram and Snapchat, and I deleted both apps from my phone for a few months. Today – while I do enjoy looking at my friends’ posts from time to time – I no longer feel any pressure to post pictures of my own or revert back to the habits that left me feeling so inadequate before.
Taking a break from social media ended up being the breather I needed to effectively refresh my mind and perspective.
I’m not saying that everyone has to take a break from Instagram – for many people, posting regularly can be fulfilling. However, if you are like me, and find yourself needing to take some time away, often it can be the best thing to take care of yourself!
As someone who has used many different social media platforms (including Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, etc), I find the greatest key to taking care of my emotional well-being while online is through careful monitoring the accounts/blogs that I follow. It may sound obvious to state, but always make sure that you are only following/friends with people and accounts that you like and whose content you enjoy seeing!
There is this concept on Tumblr and Reddit called “hate reading” where people will essentially stalk blogs whose attitudes or perspectives they disagree with just to find material to rant about. While you can’t “hate read” on photo-based platforms like Instagram or VSCO, it is still very common for people to continuously visit the pages of people they have had a falling out with or simply don’t like.
It seems counterintuitive, and yet – it happens!
If you find yourself falling into this habit, or even catch yourself comparing yourself to public figures – such as models or celebrities – in your browsing on social media, it might be a good idea to reconsider the accounts you follow. Likewise, on a platform such as Twitter – which is very political and news-based – doing a purge of the accounts you follow who continuously post things you find upsetting might be a good idea. It’s good to stay up-to-date on what is happening in the world, but politics and current events can be emotionally taxing! Don’t feel guilty about stepping away for awhile.
The most important step to having a positive social media experience is self-care. Your needs and emotional well-being comes first! It is important to remember that social media can be both positive and negative and it is up to you to check-in with yourself and figure out where to draw the line.