In 2021, Facebook came under fire for intentionally showing us content to incite anger to keep us on the platforms. Truth is, we all know Facebook’s Instagram in particular, is not just harmful to teenage girls, it’s harmful, period. Take it from me – a 36 year old grown ass woman. I feel crappy whenever I scroll through my feed and somehow manage to compare myself to people who live very different lives from me, I cannot imagine what it does to young impressionable girls.
It’s about time Facebook got called out because this has been going on for years now. Since 2019, I was starting to feel burnt out by the amount of content I had to churn out to stay relevant and constantly having to keep up with editing, creating and engaging on everyone’s post, it got overwhelming. I gradually started to post less and subsequently stopped going on Instagram so frequently which, to nobody’s surprise, affected my account’s reach. When the pandemic hit in 2020 and the world was on lockdown, I was relieved I didn’t have to see all those incredibly beautiful yet unrealistic travel posts that always seem to get me even though I know that everything is highly curated! Since my account was mostly lifestyle and travel based, it really took a nose dive in 2021 when the world started to open up and we Singaporeans are still stuck here and I had to find another niche on top of having a low reach. It really affected me psychologically because I knew the amount of work I have put into my Instagram feed over the years. I tried to find articles and videos to help me overcome this strange form of anxiety. Girl, I’ve had my ass stalked, face an abusive ex-partner in court, been broke and homeless and I’ve never felt this anxious in my life. Most articles that came up said “Delete Social Media” but if it has years of your work and memories and it is a small form of income for some of us, that is of course not helpful and granted we are living in a digital world.
So is there a way to use social media safely besides deleting your accounts? Here are some tips on how I have manage to somewhat curb my social media anxiety while still keeping my online presence.
Control What You See Online
Seeing posts that make you question your self-esteem? Stop following them. What about toxic friends and family members? Mute or restrict them. What about slimming ads, companies you don’t support and issues that don’t align with you? Click on the 3 dots on the top right corner of the post and click “Hide this ad”. Delete ghost followers and unfollow accounts that are irrelevant to you so that your posts will be shown to your true audience and you will see posts that only interest you.
Here’s how to hide ads you don’t wish to see.
- Click on the 3 dots on the top right of the ad.
- Click “Hide Ad”.
Here’s how to Restrict or Mute Friends or Family without Unfollowing.
- Click on the 3 dots on the top right of the post.
- Click “Hide”.
- Choose to Report, Mute or Unfollow account.
Stop Joining Comment Pods and Engagement Groups
I was in a small number of Engagement Groups and was actively engaging on them for a while. At first, it really helped my account to grow but it was extremely time consuming especially when some of these groups have hundreds of members. And then, something really bad happened…
I went through a rough period in 2020 adjusting to the pandemic and being affected financially as a result. I was so affected by it that on some days, I was not able to even get out of bed or eat for days and logging onto Instagram was the last thing I wanted to do because it literally made me nauseous. As a result, I was inactive in one particular engagement pod for quite a while and got blocked by the whole group of hundreds. My Instagram took a really big hit from that incident and so did my self-worth. Since that incident, I have slowly backed out of most engagement groups except the ones with members I’ve built a tight online connection with.
Engagement Pods do not care for your mental well-being. They do not care if you are depressed, going through a rough patch, sick or dead. All they care about is the likes and comments they have on their posts. You have to spend hours on end, responding, commenting, liking posts that are sometimes not even of your interest. They do not engage on your post if there is nothing in it for them. You decide if this is worth your time and effort.
Hide Your Likes
This feature of hiding likes has helped me immensely. Some will argue that hiding likes is hiding your social proof and will deter clients from working with you, I beg to differ. In fact, I have more genuine clients that engage me for the quality of my work than the numbers. Numbers can be easily inflated these days anyways so that social proof is not genuine. Besides, clients can always ask for my insights which are more reliable than likes.
Then there are some who argue that “We cAn sTiLL SeE yOuR LiKeS tHrOuGh dESkTOp!”, well that takes a lot more effort on your part to log in to Instagram through desktop and hover over each grid on their profile to see how many likes someone has? I’d question you for having that kind of time to spare.
Do Something Just For You, Not for The Gram
These past year, I have been finding new hobbies and things to do to occupy my time. It gives me comfort that I don’t have to always show what I’m up to and have my life under a spotlight. Although that privacy does come at the cost of the algorithm showing less of my posts, it helped me kick the addiction of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. A big take away from this is that I’ve learned to value the moment instead of whipping out my phone.
I took up gardening during the lockdown and got more into it in 2021. I also took up dance classes, listened to more motivational podcasts and got more involved in Facebook groups with like-minded people with similar interest.
Remember that social media doesn’t have to be toxic and you don’t have to quit it altogether. Take control of your user experience and don’t fall into the pressure of scrolling and posting mindlessly. Know your limits. The internet is not all evil and there will be a space somewhere in the world wide web that you will fit right in, you can’t do that if you’re just stuck on one platform. I’m much happier now that I have some control over social media and I hope you will be too.
Does the Number of Followers Really Matter?