Today, I am excited to share a guest post from one of my favorite internet friends, Erin Bahadur of Erin’s Inside Job.
I decided to publish this post today because I’m seeing a lot of talk about the new social media documentary The Social Dilemma and while I do plan to watch it and share my thoughts, I thought it might be a good time to talk about the positive aspects of social media, like the fact that I never would have met Erin and many of my closest friends without it. And that now, especially, in the midst of a global pandemic when we aren’t able to connect in person with those we love, the internet and social media have helped us feel less alone.
In her post, Erin provides tips on how to use social media in a positive way. Like anything, social media has its pros and cons but as long as you’re intentional about the way you use it, it can actually be a really great tool for your mental health.
As always, thank you for reading!
Social Media As a Positive Mental Health Tool
More often than not, you tend to hear about the detrimental effects of social media on the mental health of its users, especially teenagers. With things like unrealistic beauty ideals perpetrated by any number of editing tools to the trolling of people’s accounts, there can definitely be some negatives around social media apps in today’s society.
What is also important to realize, however, is that anything can have negative or positive effects depending on how it’s used. Shopping can be positive if you’re grabbing a few new things for the season. It can also become a serious problem if you’re buying compulsively and racking up unnecessary debt. It’s all about balance and moderation.
Social media can be a wonderfully positive tool if you know how to use it. It helps connect us and offers us a new way of taking in information that we haven’t had before. I’ve existed on both ends of the spectrum in my social media use, and thankfully I’m in a place today where it does far more good for me than bad. Here are some tips I’ve learned through the years on how to use social media as a positive mental health tool.
Take a Social Media Inventory
Something I do from time to time is take an inventory of who I follow on social media. By far, my most commonly used app is Instagram, so I typically start there. I go through the accounts I follow and ask myself if I really want to keep following them. Do they add value to my social media experience? Do I feel inclined to interact with their content? Do I even see their content anymore with the current algorithm?
I examine how I feel about each account to determine if it’s one that I want to continue following. If you don’t feel like going through your whole list, you can easily do it while scrolling through your feed on a regular basis.
Unfollow Accounts That Don’t Lift You Up
I used to follow the accounts of people who I aspired to be like. While I did so as more of a goal-setting technique, I often found myself feeling less-than and in a constant state of comparison. I realized that rather than lifting me up, I was using these accounts to make myself feel worse about myself and my mental health ultimately suffered.
After taking your inventory, simply unfollow accounts that no longer serve you. Maybe you’re in a different life stage now. Maybe you simply don’t relate to their content anymore. With one simple click, you can help free up space for accounts that will enhance your life.
Follow Positive Accounts
Ask yourself what you’re looking to get out of your social media experience. Is it information? Personal stories? Inspiration?
Whatever you’re looking for, I guarantee there’s an account for it. There are tons of accounts with information about mental illness, which is a great step in normalizing the conditions that many of us deal with every day. There are affirmational accounts, funny meme accounts, and pretty much anything that will bring a positive addition to your day. Follow those.
No one wants to feel alone. We crave connection, and that’s one of the guiding principles of social media. I have made tons of friends online through social media and many of them I’ve never even met in person. It’s easy to find someone that you relate to and follow along with their content. You may even want to take it a step further and leave comments on their pictures. Send them a DM! You never know what kind of connections are right at your fingertips. Especially now, given the state of the world, we all need a little more connection.