We spend a huge amount of our time scrolling through social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat can take up hours of our time before we even realize it.
This article isn’t to discuss the pros and cons of social media, or to delve into the addictive nature of these apps. If you want tips on how to have a healthier relationship with your smartphone, check out our article here.
Instead, I’d like to discuss the content we are seeing while we are scrolling.
Because we spend so much time on these apps, reading posts, looking at memes, observing pictures of instagram models and influencers, as well as the success and triumphs of friends, what we see becomes ingrained in our brains.
The anxiety we get over the news is a perfect example. Scroll through Facebook and Twitter and you will see a cornucopia of news stories that tend to focus on the negative and scary things going on in our world. We become so exposed to it that we begin to perceive the world as a negative and scary place. Granted, the world can definitely be those things; but it is not only those things.
Similarly, we begin to look at ourselves and our lives from behind the filters of social media.
If you follow a bunch of celebrity, model, or influencer accounts, you begin to believe that those body shapes, clothing, and lifestyles are the norm. Then, when you look around you in real life, you don’t see the same thing. This discrepancy causes many people to feel anxious, depressed, or resentful about their life situation.
I’ve experienced this first hand. For years I followed attractive women and people who seemed to flaunt their wealth and success. As I already had issues with self-esteem and self-worth, I began to see these as validation that my life, and the people around me, were not enough. I wasn’t fit or attractive or wealthy enough to be in the same circles as these people.
Many of the images I would see of women, particularly on Instagram, were hypersexualized which really skewed my perspective on women in general, as well as sexuality.
I became incredibly envious of people who seemed to be able to travel all the time, who had these professional looking shots of romantic or exciting scenes, or who somehow had success after success professionally.
Basically, I would see things on social media and would want them. Then, as I would scroll and see more and more of the same, I would want more deeply. When I’d put my phone away and look around, whether at my cubicle or at home, I would see a life that was not what I had grown to want.
The diet I was receiving from social media left me hungry in an insatiable way instead of filling me.
So how did I remedy this?
Well, it is still a work in progress. Most of the changes were pretty obvious. I didn’t need my Instagram feed to look like a collection of soft-core porn, so I unfollowed a bunch of accounts.
After I decided to take a step away from being a professional wrestler, seeing posts and tweets from other performers got me down and felt like clutter, so I unfollowed those as well.
I continued this process and eventually reduced my following count by about 30-40%, or about 400+ accounts on Instagram alone. I did something very similar on Twitter, as well.
I then began following accounts that would bring me joy. Nature, wildlife, and travel pages to give me inspiration and a window into the wider world. Spiritual and motivational accounts that would post daily inspirational quotes and pictures.
I eventually turned my social media, Instagram specifically because of its visual nature, into a sort of vision board.
Since doing this, while I do sometimes catch myself scrolling addictively, I have found myself feeling much less anxious. Instead of hating my life situation, I have grown to appreciate it and am inspired to make it better; not from a place of jealousy or resent, but because I know that, if I try hard, I can do it.
So my recommendation to all of you is to take some time to go through each social media app at a time and unfollow any accounts that don’t serve you, your vision for your life, or your mental health.
Make the words and images you see so regularly promote joy, curiosity, and growth!