Scrolling through my Instagram feed one night I couldn’t help but feel sad at all of the happy, smiling faces looking back at me.
It felt like the world was out having the time of their lives whilst I was at home, battling my anxiety and isolating myself.
Yes, there are times when it’s me you’ll see on your screen, having fun with friends or taking silly photos with my family but they felt like a distant memory on this particularly difficult evening.
It wasn’t until I attended a recent mental health support group titled Social Media Influences that I started to see things differently and alter my perspective a little more.
We discussed the ‘business side’ of social networking and the ways in which many people manipulate what you see for personal, and in many cases, financial gain.
We also touched on false portrayals, image enhancement and the freedom to pick and choose what we do and don’t want to see.
It was all very eye-opening and helped me to come up with five key things to consider when using social media sites…
Everyone’s lives look better online
‘Social media smugness’ is definitely a recognised thing now and we all know people who use their Facebook and Instagram profiles for nothing more than showing off.
When’s the last time you uploaded photos of yourself having an awful day where nothing’s going right, you feel stressed or unwell and you don’t like your hair/make-up/outfit choice?
I’m guessing probably never…and neither does anyone else! They only showcase the best of their lives to the world and it’s important to remember they also experience turmoil and hardship behind the scenes like the rest of us – we just don’t see it.
We all love a good filter
Image editing is becoming easier every day and very few people post photos without the odd tint and tweak somewhere along the line.
I don’t know about you, but my friends and I very rarely upload pictures without filters to either enhance our appearance or hide something we’re not so keen on – and I doubt we’re alone in that. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong but it’s important to remember when you’re perhaps feeling insecure and comparing yourself to others.
Follow the right people
Amongst a sea of people who use social media for all the wrong reasons, there are hundreds of great motivational channels out there, designed to spread positive messages to their followers.
I occasionally find myself searching for profiles and hashtags that I shouldn’t and resisting that temptation when it’s so readily available is hard. What helps me is following lots of inspirational users who promote wellbeing, encouragement and spread words of affirmation to lift my spirits instead.
Mute what you’d rather not see
If you have friends, family members or colleagues that trigger you or make you feel underconfident in some way, it’s probably time to mute their content and have a break from them.
That needn’t mean unfriending or blocking anybody and risking conflict, you can just opt to have their updates removed from your home feed either permanently or until you feel able to see it again.
Choose your time to go online
We all have times when we feel down or vulnerable and when this happens being suffocated by other people’s seemingly perfect lives will not help us at all.
There are much kinder ways of distracting our minds or escaping for a while that won’t leave us feeling rubbish in comparison. These may include doing creative hobbies like crafts and colouring, gentle exercise or spending quality time with supportive family and friends as opposed to viewing the world through a screen.