Social media – a curse or a blessing?
Prior to setting up my own business, I wasn't really a regular or active social media user. Over the years, I had been reducing the amount of time that I was spending on social media as I was noticing that I was feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and low whenever I was on my phone continuously scrolling through pages on various sites.
It's addictive! You know you should stop endlessly scrolling through feeds on your phone but it's like your fingers have a mind of their own.
Comparing to other people can be healthy if it motivates and inspires you but constant comparisons often result in a downward negative spiral and can affect our well-being.
Continuous posts from people with how picture perfect they and their lives are can make even the most confident person feel like they are lacking in some way. We may be aware that no one is perfect or happy all the time but many of us will still not feel good enough in one way or another; not as thin, not as popular, not as successful etc.
We start to question our worth and doubt ourselves.
With the rise of social media came the increase in online abuse or cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is bullying that happens online be it through social media, email, text, forums etc.
With technology surrounding us everywhere we go, it can be hard for people who are experiencing this type of online abuse to escape it which can then affect their self-esteem, confidence and can lead to depression and sometimes suicide.
Making social media work for you
Everyone has their own reasons and motives for posting on social media and you can only control your reaction towards it and your own use of social media.
I had to strike a balance with using social media in a healthy way for me. I wanted to engage on these sites in a more meaningful way for myself and provide authentic content which other people would find useful and relatable.
Tips for healthy use of social media
- Follow people and accounts that you can relate too, that you find motivational, supportive and uplifting.
"Do not compare yourself to what others seem to be" - Mandy Ingber
- Remember that a lot of people will post or capture moments when life is going good and not when they are having issues. Often, they are experiencing similar types of issues themselves too but posting makes them feel good in some way. Try not to compare by remembering that people don't post their whole lives on their social media, nothing is as black and white as it seems. If you do feel that you are being bombarded with certain types of accounts or posts which you notice make you feel negative about yourself then consider hiding their notifications, unfollowing or unfriending those accounts.
- Build connections to other people that you can relate too.
- If you are writing comments on someone else's post, think first about why you are commenting. Is your comment kind or necessary and would it be the type of comment you would want to receive.
- Raise awareness and post genuine and relatable content. You can raise awareness of certain topics which you are passionate about, talk about real-life issues which other people can relate too, you can promote your business services in an unobtrusive and genuine way, lobby for good causes etc. Another tip is to ask yourself why are you posting? what are your motives? will people find this post useful?
- Enjoy the present moment. For example, if you are on holiday or an night out, taking photos and selfies are a good way to capture the moment and the memory but often we are so busy taking the photos or videos through our phone or camera we forget to stop, embrace and really take in what is around us.
- If you are experiencing online bullying, you may have to block accounts, delete comments and even report anyone who is being abusive if necessary. Please don't suffer in silence, there is support available and other people out there who maybe experiencing similar issues to you. For further information please visit https://www.internetmatters.org/issues/cyberbullying/
- Put your well-being and mental health first. If you are struggling with low self-esteem, confidence issues, anxiety, stress and feeling bad about yourself it can help to talk to someone. This could be someone you know and trust or a counsellor/ therapist who can explore and support you with any difficulties you are facing by providing a safe, non-judgemental and confidential space for you.
- Limit the amount of time you spend on social media by setting a time or time limit. You could also turn off notifications for certain apps so that you are not tempted to keep checking them. Some phones also have tools where you can schedule downtime with certain apps this can help with reducing the amount of overall time you spend on your phone.
Another way of reducing the amount of time you spend on social media (or your phone altogether) is to change your focus. Focus on anything that you find relaxing and motivating such as:
Spending time with family or friends
Going for a walk
Finding a hobby
Learning a new skill
Helping out others, for example, by volunteering
Social media can be used as a tool for the greater good and it can be a blessing if used in the right way that works for you and in a way that improves your well-being.