We all get it (present company included) – social media is not going anywhere. It helps us maintain connection with people we haven’t seen in a long time, keeps us up to date on everyone’s lives when our own interferes with our ability to check in, and helps us share parts of our lives with others.
Here’s the thing that’s easy to forget, though: social media is not an honest picture of reality. We all see those beautiful professional shots of the baby reveals, or of our friends with huge smiles hugging friends and family. We see our friends taking their children on amazing adventures, and sharing true love with their partners. While all of those things are absolutely worth celebrating (and please don’t stop!), readers must scroll with mindful awareness that those mini-celebrations are only part of this person’s life.
You are not likely to come across the video of the mom yelling at her kids without makeup on and her hair a fizzy mess. The couple who hasn’t been able to do a date night in years. Our friend who was reprimanded at work. Understandably so, we show those parts of ourselves that we are comfortable with sharing or are proud of, and nothing else. And if you’re scrolling through that feed without remembering that, it can lead to a lot of negative (and unfair) self-comparison.
DON’T DO THAT.
…and here’s how:
- Pair Your Positives:While you may not share it on your own feed, for each one of the happy photos and blissful moments you come across, find one of your own in your own memory. Take a flashbulb moment that made your heart as happy as you would imagine your friends are feeling in that photo.
- Expand the Frame:have you ever seen some of those professional photos that then show you what the actual set of the shoot looked like? It’s usually pretty underwhelming. Photography (both professional and personal) is an ART, designed to evoke an emotional response. It is not reality, it is a representation of such. When you are looking at someone’s representation of reality, take a moment to remember that this blip of time was likely sandwiched by other emotions that were not shared (see ANY mom or dad who has EVER tried to get their hoard of children to sit for a photo….).
- Celebrate with and Support Your Friend: Moments are shared on social media because we want others to know. Try not to just click “Like” and instead text someone to say that their trip looked amazing and you want to hear all about it. Call that friend of yours who shared difficult medical news. Social media is meant to connect us with others – consider enhancing that connection beyond likes and comments. This will lend you the opportunity to feel more connected to others, but may also help you to get a much more honest picture of that person’s life.
- Unfollow: So, everyone’s been talking about that professional organizer on Netflix – the chick that tells you to get rid of those things that don’t bring you joy. I would argue we should take the same approach on social media. You can remain friends with people, but not have their stories pop up on your feed. If you find yourself rolling your eyes at every post a particular person makes, or self-deprecating every time you see a friend’s photos, consider removing them from your feed. They won’t know you did that, and now you can design your feed to show you only those things that give you joy.
- Scroll Time Limits:Consider reducing the amount of time you spend scrolling. This one sounds more magical than achievable, but most phones have time limits you can put on your social media use (it’s in your settings). If you abide by your own limits, then put your phone down to be present in your world around you, you are more likely to feel satisfied and fulfilled with your time. Think about it – who have you known that got up from a 2-hour social media binge that felt happy with how they spent their time?
Please remember to use social media as a way to support and celebrate our friends and loved ones, not as a stage for which our lives should be judged. You’re not likely sharing your meltdown moments either, and trust me – WE ALL HAVE THEM, and your friends aren’t sharing them either. Take your scrolling as the grain of salt that it should be taken as, then move on with your awesome self…
…you’re crushing it. Keep on!