Depression, anxiety and an extreme comparison problem are running amuck in our society. Maybe it’s the growing cities and close spaces to live in, or maybe it’s the fact that your community's entire life is put in front of you showing off the life you aren’t living.
I have a huge fear of missing out (I know FOMO). I don’t like to miss something and am always worried whatever option I choose will be the wrong one. However, watching what friends, family, and people I don’t even know are doing on social media is probably the quickest way to send me in a spiral down a dark and lonely tunnel of depression. My need to be an achiever and to make accomplishments only makes witnessing the accomplishments and travels of others, make me feel like I’m not doing enough.
I realized that social media was having a bad effect on my life when I never felt good enough and even more so when I realized I couldn’t be happy for other people’s happiness. I recognized that in scrolling through my feed and seeing all the things others were doing and the "perfect" and happy lives they were living (or portraying) only made me feel bad about myself and feel like what I had wasn’t enough.
No one should ever make you feel like you’re not enough.
Something had to change.
I wanted the time I’d lost scrolling on newsfeeds back, and I wanted to be happy for others while enjoying my own life. This is where my social media detox and limited prescription of it came in.
I have two social profiles I’m on regularly; Facebook and Instagram. In all honesty, if I didn’t work in marketing and if all my distant friends and family were on Instagram, I’d just lose Facebook completely. But, for now, I have both.
On Facebook, I unfollowed anyone who made me feel bad about myself or who posted things that got me angry (that over political uncle you have or the friend who posts every inspirational quote ever made, yup, I unfollowed). This doesn’t mean I’m not friends with them. I can check in on them and see what they are doing and they can see what I’m posting, but their posts just don’t show up in my feed. This allows me to control the content I see on my social accounts. By following a limited number of people, I don’t have a lot to catch up on in my feed. If I check my Facebook once a day, I’ve seen it all.
On Instagram, I am super picky about the people I follow. I primarily follow brands and experts in my field to get inspired. There are a couple of friends I follow on Instagram, but I mostly leave that for Facebook since they post the same things in both places. When it came to Instagram, I was obsessed with the following count. I would spend hours engaging on other people’s account, finding new people to follow and posting multiple times a day to get a few more followers. But the truth of the matter was I was miserable and wasn’t finding the self-worth I was looking for. It was only a couple of weeks ago I decided I needed to let this “need” go and use Instagram for fun and to educate and inspire others who stumble upon my account or are already following me.
My worth is not based on any number.
And my happiness is not based on anyone else’s happiness.
These were the two biggest lessons I’ve learned in limiting my social media exposure and curating the content I see. Of course, I still need to get regular news which I can catch up when I run my work’s Twitter account, or I’ll scroll through Apple’s news app. I don’t want to be completely remote on an island, but I also don’t want bad news hitting me all day at any time. I want to be mentally prepared for the things I’m exposing myself to and limiting how much I take in, to keep myself healthy.
So if you’re looking to try your own social detox, I suggest finding ways that work for you. Turn off notification, unfollow the people who cause you negative emotions, delete a few accounts, limit yourself to only checking your profiles at certain times and make sure your aren't checking social media first thing when you wake up or right before you go to bed. These two times have been shown to increase anxiety and depression. Give yourself 1-2 hours after waking and before sleep time without technology or at the very least, time without social media so that you can set yourself up for some positive thinking.
Even better, in removing the amount of time you are spending looking into the lives of others, you can start spending time on the things you’ve always wanted to do. I’m learning about health and nutrition, catching up on a stack of books, being present. with friends and family and attempting to learn French. It’s great to have some of that time back to get things done and make the most out of this adventure we call life.