As a young millennial woman I hear so many of my peers, friends, and business colleagues talk about the social media struggle. If you spend any time on social platforms, you’ve probably heard it described as at LEAST one of the following: a highlight reel, a comparison trap, or a time suck.
But there’s a reason social media has been given such a negative connotation right? I’m willing to bet there’s not a single person listening to this right now that hasn’t been affected by what they think about themselves after spending 30 minutes to an hour viewing curated photos of other people’s lives.
I find it unfortunate that platforms that were built with the intention to connect people have turned into a place where people compare themselves, feel less than, numb themselves, and contributes to poor mental health and social skills.
We could dive into all kinds of research and statistics about the havoc social media is wrecking on our society, our young people, and our own self worth but quite honestly, you don’t need me to have that conversation. That conversation has already been had and it’s time to stop allowing our devices to control what we think and believe about who we are and what we’re worth. My goal with this episode is to empower you to CHOOSE how your social feed makes you feel.
If the time you’re spending on Facebook or Instagram is making you feel worse about yourself, then It’s time to make a change, and today I’ve got 5 ways to help you make the social media scroll a positive experience.
Don’t look at Your Social Feeds First Thing in the Morning
I don’t know about you guys, but for a long time the first thing I’d do after turning off my morning alarm, (which was always set on my phone) would be to quickly scroll for a few minutes through my feed.
This seems like such a small harmless habit and at first it was. But sometimes that 5 min would turn into 10, that 10 would turn into 20. And at the end of it I’d be scrambling to get to work on time, and I’d be stressed out before the day even started.
Now this isn’t just a “save some time so you’re not late to work” hack, this actually goes much deeper and affects the overall productivity of your day.
We are struggling as a society to find direction, clarity, and fulfilment. I don’t think there’s ever been a time in history where people have lived so materialistically abundant, yet are so spiritually bare. We see it all the time in the news where celebrities who seemingly have it all, have taken their own lives because they can no longer endure the suffering they feel on the inside.
When you wake up every morning and start your day by looking at Suzy’s photos from her most recent vacation in the bahamas, Megan’s program that made 10k this month in sales, or Jenny’s kids who once again all look perfect in their most recent family photos because her kids amazingly never have tantrums or bad attitudes on pictures day. You have already started your day off feeling less than, under accomplished, or a bit sorry for yourself.
How can we expect have a direction and be clear on what we want, where we’re going, and our plan to get there if the first thing we’re doing in the morning is FOLLOWING everyone else and looking at where they’ve been and what THEY’RE doing instead of leading our own journey?
We’re not going to get closer to our own goals by making a daily comparison of our chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20.
Could you imagine how empowered you would feel everyday if instead of using the first 10 minutes of your morning to check your email or scroll your feed and see what’s happening with everyone else, you took 10 minutes to write down your own top 10 goals and gratitude list? How much less distracted would you feel? How pumped would you be after writing and looking at your own inspiring goals every morning?
Let me tell you, you’re going to feel pretty dang Pumped. I know because this is what I do every morning. I realized that I was never going to be able to blaze my own path, stop the comparisonitis, or get excited about what I’ve got going on in my own life if I’m constantly watching, comparing, and following everyone else.
Give yourself the gift of the first hour of every day without social media it’s so liberating. I’m telling you it’s going to make such a difference. Buy yourself an alarm clock (remember those?) and set an alarm that’s not on your phone so you’re not picking up your phone first thing in the morning.
Or put your phone on airplane mode before you go to sleep. This is actually what I do. That way I can’t get messages, emails, or social updates until I manually turn that airplane mode off around 8:30 or 9am after I’ve been awake for a few hours and have already gotten clear on my intentions and goals for the day.
2) Choose the content you consume
You know that super fit instagram girl that has an amazing set of abs you’d love to have one day? You know the one. Her stories always pop up right after that travel blogger that’s on a new beach every week sharing her favorite new dishes from the current foreign country she’s visiting.
Let me ask you something, Are you so inspired by this super fit instagram girl that it makes you want to head to the gym after scrolling her feed because you feel so motivated? Or is her 6 pack reminding you of the donuts you had for breakfast today and what a bad idea that was?
Sometimes we start following people or accounts online because they’re beautiful, we feel inspired, and they have or do something we aspire to do. And that’s fantastic--we need role models and examples of people doing what we dream of doing to help remind us it’s possible.
However over time, this feeling of inspiration can often turn to discouragement or envy when we continue to see their results or progress and not feel like we’re making any progress of our own.
It’s at this point you need to ask yourself: if this person making me feel better or worse about myself?
Be honest, because this matters. This is the content you’re allowing your brain to consume every day. You only want the content that makes you feel the best.
Chances are there’s probably a few influencers, friends, or even family members that are sharing negative or “look at me” content that’s triggering you to compare and not helping you to think the best thoughts about yourself.
I’m going to keep this simple: Unfollow them. Look if this is a hard thing to do take it a little at a time. There’s a time and season for everything, and right now when you’re 6 months pregnant, just might not be the time to be watching you favorite fitness girl work on her bikini body. You can always come back and follow her later if and when it makes more sense for you.
Also, there’s this cool feature on Facebook that lets you snooze people. If you click on the three dots at the top of every FB post there’s a button to snooze. Which means you stop seeing this person’s content for 30 days. There’s also a button to unfollow, which means this person’s posts won’t show up in your feed anymore unless you go back and follow them. This is great way to avoid the drama of unfriending those very opinionated political family members of yours, without having their posts pop up in your feed! Try it out, I know this has worked well for me.
3) Take responsibility for what you’re posting
It’s so easy to blame social media for the highlight reel but have you stopped and thought about what you’ve been posting recently? Are the last 3 posts all highlights of your own life or are there some messy moments sprinkled in?
Now to be clear, I’m not suggesting that we use social media as a platform to air out our dirty laundry by posting every frustration or obstacle we’re working through, but I’m suggesting that we take a moment to become self-aware of what we’re sharing and if we’re possibly contributing to the highlight problem.
If you realize you tend to only be sharing the shining or exciting moments, add in a few details to those pretty pictures to keep things real.
For example: when you take that gorgeous beach photo, don’t be afraid to mention the delayed flight, and lost luggage you had to reclaim before you made it to paradise.
And if you’re sharing a photo about how much you love to work remotely, don’t forget to mention that working from a coffee shop also means you have to pack up everything at your table everytime you need to get up and use the bathroom and being able to leave your desk and come back to your work space is a perk you miss from the 9-5.
What I’m getting at here, its let’s not paint an illusion if there’s more to story. You can’t complain about social media being fake or a showcase of people’s shining moments if YOU’RE only posting when you take the family trip to disneyland, you got featured in Forbes, or you had an amazing hair day. Make your feed a real place for people to hang out.
4) Snap Now, Post Later
Have you ever been somewhere new with a friend or family member and looking back you don’t have any real memories of the place, except taking pictures?
You might be laughing, but I think this happens a lot more than some of us would like to admit. We get a chance to do something out of the ordinary, like travel someplace new and suddenly our ability to enjoy it has been replaced by the need to take as many pictures as possible to share on our social media feeds and connect with everyone we’re not in the moment with.
Now I get that there’s many of us who use social media as a business tool and we know we have to show up consistently online for our audience. We know that allowing our followers to come on the journey with us through our photos and videos can be powerful BUT we’ve got to stop allowing this need to post all the time STEAL our ability to actually be present and in the moment.
The purpose of going on vacation is NOT to make memories of taking pictures. You’re there to relax, recharge, breathe fresh air, reconnect with the loved ones you’re THERE with.
So here’s how to make sure you’re capturing memories and staying present. Take a few fun photos and then don’t take the time to post until later. Because let’s be honest, it’s the posting that takes the longest, you’ve got to think of a good caption, add in the animation, tag your friends etc, etc.
Go out and enjoy your vacation or where ever you may be, and save the posting for later when you’re back at the hotel, you’ve returned home, or the activity is over. If we want social media to be a tool, it’s got to work “for us”, and that doesn’t happen when we’re chained to it 24 hours a day
5) Post for You, not For Them
I had a friend in college that invested a lot of time into her social media. Her pictures were perfect, she was gorgeous, and the content she shared was beautiful. I remember one day she seemed to be a little down. When I asked her what was going on, she told me her last selfie on Facebook didn’t get very many likes…. Later that day, she deleted the post.
What? Really? It had never occurred to me before that moment that someone could have a bad day because their post didn’t perform well….Do you know what this tells me?
It tells me that, social media isn’t just impacting the consumer, its impacting the creator. That when we post on social media it’s’ not just because we want to share the fun and exciting things in our lives, but because it’s also turned into this superficial well of worth we dip into when we want external validation that we’re beautiful, skinny, adventurous, successful, popular, or loved because we’re struggling to believe those things are true about ourselves.
Please know that you are worth more than the number of likes or comments on your last post. Don’t come to this well because you need a boost about yourself. That’s is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound and hoping the pain will go away. Sure it’ll stop the blood for a second, but then you need another Band-Aid because you didn’t fix the problem. When this posting for validation goes unchecked long enough you’ve suddenly created an addiction. An addiction of needing to feel approval, acceptance and liked by other people. Who let’s be honest, most of whom you’ve probably never met in real life. When in reality, what really needs to happen is you need to start accepting, approving, and loving yourself.
When you get ready to share your next photo online, take a good look at it. Do YOU like it? Take a moment to appreciate the moment you’ve captured, the art you’ve created, or the message you’re about to share and then don’t worry about what anyone else has to say about that.
The part where social media becomes a place of comparison or burnout instead of connection is where you start posting for other people. If you felt excited when you made the post, you should still feel excited 5 hours later even if it didn’t get any comments or likes. What you create, share, or post should have nothing to do with the approval of other people because creating and sharing is something you should be doing for you because the ACT of sharing makes you happy, not the feedback or validation. That’s where we fall into the trap of what social media has become to negatively known for.
Don’t let social media be your well of worth you return to when you want a dopamine hit from comments and views to make yourself temporarily feel better. Choose to keep your cup full because you took the time to do the inner work. You’ve read your scriptures, said your prayers, done your mediation, listened to the podcast, done the journaling or whatever it is that YOU do to spiritually and mentally feed your mind spirit.
Come to these beautiful platforms and share THAT. Don’t rely on the validation of someone else that you’re the right size, wearing the right clothes, or walking the right path. That is the surest way to feel lost and alone because you’re never going to the be the “right everything” for everybody. You’re not supposed to.
One last thing before we wrap up, did you guys ever read the book growing up called “You Are Special” by Max Lucado?
It’s a great book with a message that mirrors my point today for tip #5
It’s a children’s book about these small wooden people called Wemmicks who spend their days sticking gold stars or grey dots on one another. Punchinello is a wooden character who gets a lot of grey dots which is basically equivalent of getting no likes on a Facebook post, and begins to think he doesn’t matter and isn’t important because he doesn’t have any gold stars like some of the other Wemmicks.
When Punchinello finally learns that his worth isn’t dependent on gold stars, his grey dots start to fall off and eventually all the stickers are unable to stick to him.
What’s amazing to me about this story is it was written in the 90’s before social media was around, and yet it’s like a perfect analogy of what happens when can stop living our lives for the gold stars of validation.
When we create this inner confidence that we are special, that we have worth unconditionally, --not only do we stop feeling the need to constantly earn more gold stars and get more likes, but those grey dots or someone else’s negative opinion of us, also start to become unable to stick to us. We don’t take it personally because we know it’s not true.
If you haven’t read the book, check it out and read it to your kids, it’s got a great message!
Alright guys, a quick recap of The 5 ways to make the scroll on social media a positive experience are
Don’t look at your social feed first thing in the morning
Choose the content you consume
Take responsibility for what you’re posting
Snap Now, Post Later
Post for you, Not For Them
I hopes these tips have been helpful but I’d love to hear from you! How do you keep your social media experience positive and encouraging? Let me know in the comments below. Until next week!