A Mindful, Healthier Approach To Online Content?
→ A mindful approach to online content, for a healthier relationship with social media
→ ‘Real’ vs ‘reel’ and recognising the difference
in this modern day life, What you see isn’t always what you get and I think it’s even more fitting for such a thing as social media.
Getting straight to the point: the carefully curated social feeds we see on Instagram are an edited version of life - a portfolio of perfection with filtered, photoshopped and edited photos, planned, balanced and colour-coded, with all the bloopers taken out.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some truly stunning feeds out there which are absolutely beautiful and kudos to the person behind it all, I know it takes a lot of hard work and effort to create it.
But, what about the bits we don’t see? Bloopers, anyone?
Unfortunately, social media has this uncanny ability to make us just as happy as it does unhappy, making us forget reality. One piece of content has the power to totally knock someone down or prop them up - it’s crazy, and comparing ourselves against what we see (often unachievable ideals) can be damaging to our confidence and self esteem.
From a mental health perspective, it’s about ‘real’ vs ‘reel’ and remembering the difference between the two is vital, especially to someone like myself who encounters self doubt on an all-too regular basis. That’s why I’ve put together a social media checklist using the ‘s-o-c-i-a-l’ acronym to try and manage how my mind interprets online content on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook etc.
So, what can we do to stay positive online?
Putting my mental health at the highest priority is paramount because being a blogger involves a high level of exposure to potentially toxic online content, so you’ve got to keep your mind sharp and think logically. Even if you’re not a blogger or a regular user of social media, it still holds the same level of impact if you let it.
I’ll be honest - I’ve been guilty of letting social media get to me. Whether it’s something or someone, it’s not always plain sailing and there have been times it’s got to me, I won’t lie.
So, back to my checklist, it’s a list I’ve found some solace in on days where I’ve been feeling low, where avoiding social media may seem like the obvious answer but really I think it’s down to knowing when to step back, perhaps a take a little break and gain some perspective on the bigger picture.
I want to create a healthier, long-term relationship with social media
Adopting even just a few of the points below can help adjust the way your mind processes what you see online, for what I hope is a healthier approach to social media going forward, creating a more positive experience online for us all.
Every time you see something (or someone) which makes you feel down, worthless, useless, worried, anxious or any of those feelings which are anything less than happy, try the following mindset to help you remember that what you see needn’t make you feel that way, ever!
The following is based on using my own experiences and I hope you find it inspiring in some way.
Remember, what you see online is only a snippet, a snapshot of a moment in time which more than likely has been carefully thought out and executed with pre-planning precision. It’s barely an insight to what’s going on behind the scenes so don’t let it shake you off your course, scrutinising every last detail of what’s going on in a picture and worrying you’re not doing enough on your end. This will only make you feel down.
Wish them well for their efforts, take a ‘good for them’ attitude and carry on down your own path.
Did you know, you have complete control over how you use the information you see online? Bear in mind there is an opportunity with everything, even if it’s just to learn - if you choose to see it that way. We allow things to make us happy but why would we allow something to make us unhappy? There are hundreds of opportunities all the time which help us learn, I’d go as far to say everything is a learning opportunity, especially with people.
People are the biggest teachers (and the biggest lessons) of all.
Comparison is the thief of joy and it’s so true. Every time you compare yourself to someone else, you lose a tiny little bit of perspective on who you are and what you are capable of. You can control your response to posts on social media, you have 100% control over whether to let something (or someone!) you see online bother you enough to upset you and/or make you question your own doings - so why compare? It’s up to you how you choose to see information and it doesn’t have to affect you path. You do things your way, they do things their way. If in doubt, blast ‘You Can Go Your Own Way’ by Fleetwood Mac, for clarification.
Think about you, your message, your passion. Where do you place the importance of that against what others are doing? Is your goal vulnerable? Is it easily deterred by the threat of someone else? Of course not, and remember the support network that social media offers, it’s always there (overshadowed often by trolls).
Ultimately, how do you want to use social media for your benefit? Connecting with people online for me personally has been incredible and is a truly amazing sign of our times. Think about your purpose - who are you associating with and why? Who is associating with you? Are they healthy connections? Stay focussed on your purpose despite attitudes and/or comments from others.
Listen to yourself and the inner workings of your mind when you view something online. Whether it’s an image or text, check for signs that you’re comparing yourself to something or someone else. Avoid negative thoughts which might put pressure on you to be anything other than yourself, like ‘I should be doing that’, or ‘why am I not like that’.