Let’s be honest… we all love social media. We’ve been hooked since the MySpace days (we still miss Tom and the music on our profiles.) Although social networking platforms have continued to progress and grow since those original MySpace days, the basic fact remains that social media can truly be a wonderful thing. It gives us the ability to open up our lives and let people in. The ability to share our triumphs, connect with others through struggles, and keep in touch with loved ones far away.
But there is a fine line between what is healthy and what is toxic on social media. There is a danger of falling prey to the falsities portrayed, the desiring of someone’s else’s life, the feeling that our lives aren’t “good enough,” and the spiral downward that we can take from there.
To free yourself from social media toxicity, remember to do these four things:
Stop pretending to be someone you’re not. Stop pretending that your life is perfect. What we all know deep inside but fail to sometimes acknowledge is that everyone uses social media as their highlight reel. They show the best moments, the exciting travels, the beautiful foods, the exceptional workouts, the perfect partner or children. These perfect portrayals are not real- that “perfect photo” was the best out of ten, and edited to hide every blemish, scar, and imperfection. If you’re going to let people in on social media, make sure you’re actually letting them in. Letting them into your real life, not the one that you wish you had, but the one you’re actually living each day.
Stop comparing yourself to the Insta-famous people, the people whose physiques seem so flawless, the people with the same hashtags as you. Just stop. The beauty of humanity is that we are all so unique, our differences make us special. Why would we want to be like someone else? Why would we want their lives? We all go through rocky times, we all struggle… the difference is that some people show it, and some people hide behind beautiful pictures. So stop comparing your marriage, your career, your lifestyle, your weight, your perceived beauty, and where you’re at in your life to someone else.
Stop caring so much and/or craving validation.
Stop caring about what people say about you. Stop caring about what people think. Stop sharing because you need validation. This goes for anything that you choose to share online. Whether it’s your cooking, your relationship, your weight loss transformation, or your writing, you should be proud of those things.
Your personal achievements, although rewarding to you, mean nothing to everyone else. Remember that the only opinion that truly matters is the one you have of yourself. You shouldn’t be living life with the goal of impressing other people, trying to make them proud of you. You should be living only for yourself, doing what you have to do day in and day out to make yourself proud. Because honestly, you are and should be, the only one who can determine your worth.
Stop airing your dirty laundry.
There is a big difference between showing vulnerability on social media and airing your dirty laundry. As a Lupus and lifestyle blogger and writer, I choose to share vulnerabilities because my goal is to inspire others to be advocates for their health and give a voice to those who suffer in silence. To show people struggling with a chronic illness that there is a light through the darkness and that we are able to persevere. To discuss heartbreak and relationship woes so people know they’re not alone. I show and openly discuss when I’m scared about my health when I’m battling seasonal depression, when my heart is broken, and when I just feel wretched.
But I don’t show everything. I would never open myself up completely to strangers. I have a therapist and good friends for that. Because here’s the truth: no one cares. They literally give zero fucks. Your problems don’t make you special, and everyone has their own. No one really cares and you shouldn’t want them to. This goes back to seeking validation. You shouldn’t need praise or sympathy from others in order to feel okay about your own life.
Like everything in our lives, we have the ability to choose what we give power and importance to. But we need to make sure that we don’t give that same power and importance to the wrong things because that could be detrimental on our psyches.
So let’s treat social media as it was intended to be. An outlet to share, connect, and explore, remembering that nothing is usually as it seems.