curating a positive social media space
It’s no secret that social media, in one form or another, is a large part of our everyday lives. It’s a valuable tool for keeping up with friends & family, sharing life events, and finding inspiration for everything from what we eat to where we travel — but how much are we letting it control our mental and physical health?
Here are the facts:
In the U.S. alone, 69% of adults and 97% of adolescents use social media today, according to an article written by Maria Clark on Etactics.
With that, the American Journal of Epidemiology (2017) reports that "a 5,000 person study found that higher social media use correlated with self-reported declines in mental and physical health and life satisfaction,"
Even scarier, the Internal Facebook Report (2018) found that "64% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms steered them there."
Note: This blog post is not written to scare you—it's intended to make you aware of these realities, and provide some insight on how to take back control of what you consume (and post) on social media.
So, where do you begin?
STEP #1: What You See
Social media can easily cause people to get sucked into feeling like they are less than; like they need to change in some way to be prettier; like they have to work harder, do more, or travel farther to live a fulfilling life; like they need to buy into the latest pyramid scheme, wear a certain brand, or spend money on things they don't need because an influencer said so.
You can see how this is toxic, right? This cycle can be applied across social media platforms, which is why we're suggesting you to start paying attention to your social media space and analyzing how it affects your daily life.
You hear about social media "algorithms" and how they change so frequently, but they actually change based on your activity — meaning you can have control of the algorithm.
So the next time you pick up your phone to scroll, try one of the following methods to start cleaning up your personal space:
No New Friends:
Do you ever scroll through your feed or friend requests and think, "who is this person?" or "there's no way that's real life, right?" We've all been there, and it's uncomfortable.
Should I know who this person is?
Do I have to accept a friend request from my cousin's second husband whom I've never met?
Why do I feel envious of a person I barely even know?
When you're faced with these questions and feelings, just remember that this is your space to fill with your people. Why would you choose to consume information about people you don't know, especially if they don't bring you joy?
Eliminate the waste and get back to the basics — close friends & family.
Tip: If you wouldn't wish them a "happy birthday" on Facebook, unfriend or unfollow.
Although the hardest to enforce, this is probably the most realistic method for the majority of social media users. The rule of thumb is to eliminate negativity immediately, without question.
That's right — your aunt, friend, or coworker has posted something that negatively impacts how you feel about yourself or how you view and respect the person, and you're now faced with a choice: continue to scroll while you choke down your emotions and hope you can forget what you saw, or unfollow.
Always unfollow. Regardless of who it is or what they posted, it's causing negativity in your space. Get rid of it.
Tip: Ditch the news feed and explore on Instagram! Find & follow accounts that make you happy—inspirational quotes, funny animals, sunsets, music, or whatever will influence happiness and make you love who you are when you open the app.
Although it's not for many, some find that deactivating their accounts for a set period of time (or indefinitely) not only improves their mental health, but frees up their time & attention to better focus at work or enjoy more activities like reading or exercising.
Tip: After you deactivate your account, delete the apps from your phone to avoid habitual attempts to scroll or temptation to reactivate your account.
As with anything, there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating a positive social media space. Try a method until it works for you, or create your own and share it with us.
STEP #2: What You Post
Take a look into why you post certain content...is it positive?
Brands & Influencers:
Taking into consideration how you want to make your audience feel, dedicate space for something positive—Monday motivational quotes, positive business news, or cute animal videos. These things will break up your content and keep you from posting one topic too often, causing your audience to get bored or feel negatively about your brand.
Furthermore, building a relationship with your audience is a huge part of both growing your brand and curating a positive social media space. Developing trust and a genuine bond with your audience will create natural growth and engagement and keep you in their positive social space.
Tip: Use SMART goals to determine what positive content aligns with your brand's voice and theme.
The next time you start jotting down "what's on your mind" on Facebook, ask yourself these three questions before you post:
Is it true? Do you have hard evidence to prove your statement?
Is it kind? Is this intentionally hurtful?
Is it necessary? Does this really belong on social media?
If the answer isn't YES to every question above, it's not positive content and it won't benefit you or your followers on social media—period.
Tip: Create a digital or paper journal for your thoughts and feelings where they will be safe and private.
In the End...
It's about practicing mindfulness when you're either scrolling through or posting content on social media. The effect it has on our mental health is significant, and taking control is a huge step toward bringing social media back to a space intended for connecting and making positive change.
Thoughts, ideas, or questions? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear more about your positive social media space.