Social media is everywhere around us these days – Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat… the list is endless. We are all guilty of spending too much time scrolling through the latest posts or checking how many likes our recent selfie has gotten.
But it was when I started to spend hours obsessing over what my friends were posting online, and feeling down about how much seemingly better their lives were than mine, that I knew I had a problem.
Social media was a major factor in my depression as a teenager. However, with some changes, I’ve managed to turn my use of social media around and use it in a way that benefits me and makes me feel happy. I now control my social media use, instead of letting it control me.
Here are the five things I wish I knew about social media when I was younger:
- Selfies Do Not Happen Naturally
Those selfies you see with the “just woke up” caption? Those took dozens of failed attempts, good lighting, a lot of makeup, the right filter, and probably some photoshop thrown in for good measure. No one, and I mean no one, looks the way they do in selfies all the time. You do not need to compare how you look on a daily basis to the selfies you see online.
2. Everyone Just Wants Validation
Have you ever felt a bit upset when your latest post got fewer likes than your previous one? You might think you’re alone in feeling this way, but in reality, everyone uses social media as a way of seeking acceptance and validation. Many girls often feel like the number of likes they get shows how popular they are, however to base your self-worth on the number on a screen isn’t going to make you happy in the long term.
3. Take A Break From Social Media
I mean it – take a break for a few days, delete all the apps from your phone (you don’t have to actually delete your accounts), and see how you feel. The first day might be tough, but after that, you’ll realise you haven’t actually missed anything important. I recommend doing this every so often, as it can work wonders for improving your mental health, and give you some much-needed “me time”.
4. Delete Negative People From Your Social Media
That girl you don’t get on with but you follow on Instagram? Delete her. Don’t feel like you have to be friends with someone online if you’re not friends with them in real life. If what someone posts online makes you feel bad about yourself in any way, you do not need to stay friends with them. Even if you don’t want to unfriend/unfollow someone, you can still hide what they are posting from appearing on your feed. You’ll instantly feel better after doing this – trust me.
5. Don’t Compare Your Entire Life to the Best Bits of Everyone Else’s.
I saved my most important tip for last. People only post the best bits of their life on social media – they don’t post when they are feeling upset or have had a bad day. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing everything that happens in your life to what others post on social media. Remember everyone has bad days – just because someone has posted a nice picture online doesn’t mean they are having the best time of their life. Focus your energy on your own life, not comparing yourself to what others choose to share online. Comparing yourself to others isn’t going to make you happy – you are unique and following a different path from everyone else.
I hope these tips can be useful in showing how to change how you see social media. Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends, but it also has its downsides too – make sure you control your social media, rather than letting it control you.
This piece was written by the lovely Jenny Pollack, a student at NUI Galway. Thanks Jenny x
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