Let’s face it – we spend a lot of time on social media nowadays. For my job, I have to be active and accessible on platforms like WordPress and Instagram and since moving to Australia I rely on social media to keep in touch with people more than ever before. Sometimes I would love nothing more than to switch off my phone and have a technology break, but doing that is tough. Social media, phones and instant availability is the norm.
I know I’m not the only one who spends a lot of time online. I see friends back home still online when I wake up, meaning that they are on social media until the early hours of the morning. Sometimes it feels like I am actually on holiday with people when they share photos of every part of their trip. No judgement or shame here – social media, phones and instant availability is the norm. From documenting nights out to sharing photos of our meals, we live our lives through a lens.
What this lens looks at matters. What you fill your feed with is important. Your newsfeed should be something that fills you with happiness and hope, not dread and dissatisfaction.
My feed used to be the latter. Whilst I mostly followed friends or people I admired, I also followed accounts that were unhealthy for me to see. Accounts I followed might not be bad for some people, but for me some of the problematic ones were of people promoting plastic surgery, people who looked at skin differences as ‘flaws’, people promoting diet shakes, people calorie counting. As someone with a facial birthmark, having the idea of unattainable perfection and a fixed, marginal idea of beauty reinforced was not good for me.
Following accounts that only bring you down is not good for your wellbeing. On a basic level, it chips away at your self confidence, but on a deeper level, surrounding yourself by accounts that you feel are inauthentic, fake or simply accounts that make you feel bad about yourself only turns you into someone you don’t want to be. I have compared my looks, my clothes, my job, my holidays and my dreams to others, to people I do not know. I have berated myself for not being ‘enough’. Sometimes, looking at certain profiles even brought out of me a side I didn’t like, thinking things like ‘we could all look like that if we edited our waist smaller like she did’ or ‘sure, you really woke up looking like that’. Those snide comments were from a person I didn’t want to be.
Curating my following list was one of the best things I ever did. I went from following bullies from school, ex friends, celebrities that promoted unattainable lifestyles and people who reinforced negative ideas of body image to now following accounts that celebrate women, that promote diversity, that scream for self acceptance and that make me smile. When I scroll now, I am no longer full of self doubt.
Carefully selecting who and what I follow has made such a difference to my wellbeing. Of course I still have times of self doubt, but social media no longer reinforces this doubt. Now I go online and read a status that tells me to love myself as I am. Now I go online and see a photo of someone who has a ‘flaw’ like I do and their beaming smile, strong pose and killer confidence reminds me to look at myself in the same way I do them – full of admiration, love and awe.