Before I begin, I’d like to recognize the reality that I’m not perfect. I don’t have it all figured out. My social presences, my understanding of them and how they affect me are still a work in progress. The digital world is undoubtedly my world, but I recognize that I’m not always in control of it. The advice I present below is a series of well-intentioned suggestions developed from my years spent in the professional and personal digital realm, as well as the reflection of the best advice given to me, credited where appropriate.
Silence Social Media Anxiety
- Activate the Do Not Disturb function on your device. Unsubscribe from unique alerts and dekstop notifications that don’t serve you.
- Take a moment to manage notifications and email subscriptions for every social media application you have. Turn them off. Reduce them. Be selective. Turn off Likes or Comments. Keep on Tags, private Messages and Direct conversations.
- Utilize the following buttons: Turn Off, Mute, Block, Unfollow, Delete, Hide, Archive.
- Modify your posting style. You don’t owe it to anyone to post every day. Post less. You can post as much as you please, and if they don’t like it, they can unfollow. Post more. Don’t feel stuck. Don’t feel pressured. Utilize Instagram Galleries. Post in Instagram triptychs. Make more collages. Create Twitter threads.
“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain
Remember that social media is a highlight reel. We have all been socially conditioned by the Likes, Comments, Saves, Favorites, and Engagements to only present that which succeeds. It is normal to share and see a regular stream of successes, joys, fly selfies, and professional or personal accomplishments. It is not normal to share or see the daily or even weekly lows, fears, failures, or insecurities. We all have them, but if you’re looking for them on social, you won’t find them.
- Unfollow or Mute accounts that make you mentally unhealthy, upset, or sad about yourself. Be selfish with your time and your space. Don’t follow or watch content out of obligation, out of fear, or out of jealousy. For the most part, you decide what you see on your Feed, Search, Explore and Timeline with your active and passive actions.
- Follow more people, businesses or brands that look like you, dress like you, eat like you and act like you.
- Understand how filters, angles, Photoshop, face tune, and other editing apps work. Try them out yourself to see how powerful they are in warping an image. Understand that every aspect of every photo or video you see has the potential to be edited. Realize that no professional photo, workout progress report, or natural make up look is presented to you without modification.
Recognize that no other person is meant to live the life you’re living. Recognize that you are not meant to walk in the footsteps of anyone but yourself. Remember that opportunities are abundant. Remember that you can and should create your own.
When you find yourself saying:
“I wish I could…”
“Why did they get to…”
“They don’t deserve…”
“Why doesn’t my…”
“Why don’t I…”
“I’m not as…”
“I’m more _____ than them.”
“I can ______ better.”
“My _____ doesn’t ______ like theirs.”
Stop. Question the source of your envy or dissatisfaction. Why do you want to look like, dress like, work like or travel like this person does in their highlight reel? Can you, or should you try to replicate their success? Ask them directly about their methods and outcomes. Ask them if it was worth it. Ask them if it was rewarding. Ask them if they’ll refer you. Ask them where to get one. Recognize that a balanced, exorbitant lifestyle is not sustainable or practical.
Practice behaviors that encourage you to celebrate the beauty of others, with others. Comment. Reply. Re-Share. Support. Validate. Affirm. Or Unfollow. Sometimes, the best support you can give is support from afar.
Fight the Fedding
Fed (verb, noun, attribution, addiction) : To stalk, creep, intrude, lurk or otherwise investigate via social media in an unhealthy way. To be one who promotes social discord or seeks information they are not naturally privy to.
If you are running from The Feds:
Stop watching the numbers. Stop combing through your Likes and Views to see which Feds are watching.
Stop tagging your Locations. Stop Tagging your plots. Stop using hashtags. Don’t Share while you’re there. Consider not Sharing at all.
Go Private. Approve your Followers. Block or Mute your haters and subtweeters. Dispel strangers from your environment.
Create Lists and Publish or Share to them only. Revoke Permissions. Allow only those you follow to DM you.
Stop creating mystery. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Unless you like mystery. Then, go ahead. But recognize that social eavesdropping behaviors are addictive and innate.
If you are The Feds:
Stop combing through others’ Likes, Tags and Comments. When you find yourself stalking or going through others’ content in a way that is not positively motivated (i.e. looking for related accounts, seeking inspiration, wanting to find an attribution source or get in contact with someone) Stop. Crawl out of the Rabbit Hole and get back to your Feed, the ground floor.
Stop zooming with two fingers to find flaws, or recognizable surroundings, elbows, shoes and hands.
Stop trying to discern others’ intentions, company or daily movements by piecing together multiple stories, comments and photos.
Stop reporting these malintentioned findings to others around you.
Before you open your mouth or fix your fingers to say:
“Did you see their…”
“I think they are…”
“They must be…”
“I hate how they…”
“They need to…”
“I need them to/ I wish they would…”
“Last night she and…”
“What do you think about his…”
“They look so…”
“I don’t like how they…”
Stop. Ask yourself why you’re volunteering your fedding findings, and what you hope to gain. Redirect everything you’re saying ABOUT that person TO that person. If you aren’t comfortable doing so, ask yourself why. Perhaps it doesn’t need to be said.
Ask someone you trust to hold you accountable. Share your biggest fedding struggles and challenges with them. Ask them to stop you in your tracks, question or challenge you when they recognize unhealthy patterns or instances of behavior. Ask them to help you identify your areas for improvement.
If you need a moment, Stop watching Stories altogether.
Stop assuming that the picture someone paints of themselves on social media is a true, honest, or even accurate reflection of who they really are. Most social presences are too performative and curated to support this kind of investigation.
Delete or log out of the apps on which you Fed the most. Schedule a time to return. If you find you’re doing better without them, don’t return at all.