We live in an overwhelmingly digital society. Most youths probably own at least one social media account, be it Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or even TikTok. People use social media for entertainment, to get news updates or simply stay connected with the people they love.
That said, every social media platform has its insidious side. When our Instagram Stories are flooded with snapshots of other people’s flashy, glamorous lifestyles, it is difficult not to compare their thriving social lives with our own.
Sometimes, the insecurities can eat us up from the inside, if we don’t manage our social media usage well. Here are a few ways you can create a healthier social media experience for yourself.
Take regular breaks
Social media platforms are designed for endless, mindless scrolling. Content never runs dry — for example, over one thousand Instagram posts are uploaded every second. Needless to say, scrolling for hours on end can make users feel pressurised to curate the perfect social media presence.
It is important to distance ourselves from social media once in a while. Most mobile phones have a feature that logs one’s screen time, with statistics noting the amount of time spent on each app. If you find that social media takes up the bulk of your screen time, perhaps it is time to take a break. Go for a walk, grab a snack or watch some Netflix — take time for yourself instead of being surrounded by the virtual presence of others.
Explore other activities
Many of us instinctively pull up our preferred social media apps whenever we find ourselves idling — while relaxing at home, on public transport, or even while walking — to diffuse awkwardness or fill time. This creates an unintentional reliance on social media, where we end up spending more time on it than we perceive.
Instead of opening TikTok when you feel bored, explore other activities you can do. You could pick up a new hobby, such as reading, photography, drawing or crafting. There are plenty of free e-book readers available for download, in case you need something to do while waiting for the bus.
Eventually, you can break the habit of instinctively going on social media in your down time, leaving less room for insecurities to take over.
Reorganise your follower list
One of the pros of social media is how easy it is to stay connected. One can be Facebook friends with acquaintances from as far back as kindergarten, just for old times’ sake. But the question is, how many of these people are still actively present in your life?
Having people we barely know following us on social media can unknowingly add to the pressure and insecurity we may face about posting. A way to combat this is to simply remove certain people from your list of followers. Instagram has this feature built in, while other platforms require more manual work by using the block feature.
Alternatively, you can restart your account and only follow people you are comfortable with. This way, you can truly be authentic and honest without worrying about the judgment of almost-strangers.
There is a perceived stigma against using the block feature, but the hard truth is that many of these acquaintances are no longer present in your life and vice versa. You can create a healthier social media experience by starting with a small circle of trusted followers, and if you like, branch out once you feel more confident.
Realise that your experience is your own
At the end of the day, it is important to recognise that you ultimately have control over your social media presence. Do what makes you comfortable, even if it means having to re-evaluate your hobbies and the people surrounding you. A healthy relationship with social media is key to making it a useful and meaningful part of our lives.