If Facebook, Twitter and Instagram make you sad or anxious about life, it’s time to get a grip. Stop complaining and take the reins. Here’s how to do it.
The past few years have turned out many surveys and studies linking social media to stress, depression or a general decline in happiness..
This isn’t so shocking if you think about it. Most Facebook feeds consist of over opinionated status updates sprinkled with unnerving news alerts, are inundated with cheesy, staged engagement photos, and topped off with prompts from an animal cruelty group to sign a petition to bust a kill shelter. It’s no wonder why it’s so hard to have a zen social media experience. But what can you do about it?
Some people think that deactivating your profile deactivating your profile is the only ticket to social media nirvana. I disagree. I mean, would you throw away your television because it was making you gain weight? Maybe you would, but you’d be misdirecting your energy. TV isn’t causing weight gain, your food and exercise choices are. Spend less time with Netflix and hit the gym—leave the TV out of it.
Similarly, there are things you can do to adjust how you consume content on all social networks. The following seven tips can be applied in some way to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+ or Pinterest.
1. Don’t stop at your newsfeed. When the newspaper is delivered to your door every morning, it doesn’t come with a gun to your head forcing you to read everything presented in front of you. The same goes with social content—you aren’t beholden to your home feed. Take control by going directly to trending topics when you sign in or searching for the day’s top headlines, then pick and choose what to read.
2. Unfollow and bookmark. If you’re passionate about a cause that gets you down or reminds you of a traumatic event, you can keep tabs on the topic without having them appear in your daily feed. (I have a friend who is extremely passionate about feeding the homeless, but found following certain charity groups on social media a little upsetting. If you’re prone to depression, this can ruin your day!) Unfollow the accounts and bookmark them in a folder marked “social” in your browser. Set a calendar reminder to check in on them once a week so you don’t miss out on any major events. You go to them instead of them coming to you.
3. Block your ex and throw away the key. While social media is great for making connections and cyber stalking can be harmless and fun, some breakups should stay broken. The www is big enough to never, ever have to see him or her ever again.
4. Keep a list of happy hash tags. Recognize what makes you happy, and know where to find it. For example, I love turtles. There is nothing about turtles that will ever make me sad. I have “#turtles” set up as a saved search on Twitter. Fun fact: The number one most popular hash tag on IG is #love.
5. Lighten up. Chill out. Have some perspective. Social media is a place where everyone presents only what they want you to see. Don’t give into Facebook envy. Remind yourself often and always that no one has a perfect life, even if their kids are Ralph Lauren models and you just scrolled through nine thousand photos of them in a pumpkin patch.
6. Dude, just delete it. Your latest activity (let’s say it’s a comment on someone else’s status) has been up for a whole 10 minutes and there’s nothing but crickets. You feel like a #fail. You shouldn’t. Newsflash: This has nothing to do with you as a person, so please stop obsessing. Maybe everyone was busy…or maybe it didn’t appear on their feed. Or maybe (gasp!) they don’t think it’s as funny as you apparently do. If it’s really bothering you, just delete it. No one will notice. (And no one is thinking about it as much as you are, I promise.)
7. Pay it forward. Post only positive messages! If you spread the love, not only are people more likely to engage with you, but you’ll get something in return because it’ll boost your mood. This is one of our most popular tweet—it never fails to disappoint and always makes us smile, too!