Last week it was announced that Instagram is ranked the worst social media platform for young people’s mental health. Personally, this wasn’t much of a shocker to me. How many times have you scrolled past an image and thought how you wanted to look like that, or live there, or have that? Quite a few times I’d wager. It breeds comparison culture, and of course, this can’t be good for our mental wellbeing.
I love social media, don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful for it allowing me to stay in touch with friends and family near and far. I love the creative outlet it provides me with, and for all the inspiration it can give me. From the early days of MSN Messenger and MySpace, I’ve lived a lot of my life online. These days, lord knows I spend way too much time scrolling through Twitter and Instagram. This all got me thinking about how living life online has affected me personally, and what I can do to protect my self-esteem.
Now I don’t mean delete your accounts unless you want to of course. But delete your apps for a few days if you find yourself spiralling into self-conscious, self-doubting thoughts. I’ll often delete my apps for a weekend so I can go internet free, but not have to leave my phone at home. I hate being out of contact in case of emergency! I can’t tell you how good this is for my head generally, but particularly if I’m feeling self-conscious. Not scrolling Instagram for hours can really boost how you see yourself!
Sometimes I delete my messenger apps if I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Right now, I don’t have Facebook or Facebook Messenger on my phone at all. It’s where all my group chats take place and sometimes I like not having to keep up with a million and one notifications every minute. I’m sure the gal pals in the groups are chatting away and maybe wondering where I am – but my head is clearer for not constantly being on my phone. Gals, if you need me you can reach me by carrier pigeon (or WhatsApp).
Turn Off Notifications
As mentioned above, one thing that drives me made is the number of notifications I get across all social media platforms every day. If you really can’t bring yourself to delete your apps, turn off your notifications instead. If you’re like me and you can leave those pesky little red numbers unchecked you’ll just end up checking your phone more. And every time you check your notifications, inevitably you’ll end up scrolling.
If an account really makes you feel insecure about yourself in any way, just unfollow. You can always follow accounts again!
Sometimes we can feel obligated to follow people we know on every platform – but I’m not about that life. It’s too much to keep up with! I might love you on Twitter, but not be that into your Instagram posts. It’s nothing personal, just literally how it is. I’m not about scrolling through a platform and wondering why I follow people who show up, and we need to get over this weird obligation to follow everyone everywhere.
Hannah Gale wrote a fab post on the importance of unfollowing last week, and I’d really recommend giving it a read. But the long and short of it is – if you don’t get anything positive from it, unfollow.
What are your thoughts on social media and its impact on our mental wellbeing? I’d love to know how you protect your self-esteem online!