I hate that I even have to write this. How have we even gotten here? How is it that looking at someone’s social media can actually do emotional damage? Doesn’t that seem silly?
But it’s not silly. It’s real. And it actually can do some damage. It can cause you to write stories in your head about someone else. It can make you believe things that aren’t really true because you are fabricating reality with anxiety-driven thoughts.
Before you check their Instagram, before you go down that god-awful millennial rabbit hole, ask yourself a couple of questions:
What are you trying to accomplish here?
I mean really, think about it, what are you hoping to gain from that experience? If you think peeking into someone else’s life where you do not belong anymore will help you process, it won’t. All you will do is spend endless amounts of hours questioning what they are up to and who they are with, and the insane spiral that sends you on is not fun. So don’t waste your time.
What will happen to you when you see the one thing you don’t want to see?
You know what I’m talking about. There’s always something that, when you see it, will cut you like a knife. Whether that’s a pointed (and oddly specific) caption, a new girlfriend, or the fact that you’re still on their close friends list- it doesn’t really mean anything. Seeing things that hurt you further or grow your hope are neither useful nor helpful. The only thing that will help you is space, leaving their online presence to their own volition, and to make sure your social media presence is solely about you.
What weight are you giving another person’s curated existence?
We all do it, we all know it, but social media is a carefully and cautiously chosen way to present ourselves. It isn’t always someone’s true reality, just what they want people to think. So if you constantly visit someone else’s page and think, ‘this is their life now,’ that isn’t always the case. They have struggles and happy times and moments of laughter and fits of rage that you are not privy to. They might not post these, so don’t fill in the gaps with your own narrative. Let their life be what it is now- separate from yours.
Are you willing to accept whatever you might see?
Here’s the thing- nobody is forcing you to look. So whatever you see, that’s on you. If you are going to check their Instagram when you know you might see something unsavory, think about the consequences to that action. Because whatever they posted, whoever liked their picture, whoever tagged them in a comment- you don’t own any part of that.
At the end of it, that’s really what you need to be telling yourself- you don’t own any part of their virtual or actual existence, nothing is ever really as it is portrayed anyway, and you are better off without looking in the first place.
Clear your search history. Stop looking at other people’s profiles that you know they will pop up on. Delete your social media. Do whatever it takes to break the habit.
Create healthier social media habits. Follow a really amazing artist, a writer, or someone who takes unbelievable photos. Look at profiles that feel like a visual sigh of relief instead of a tightly tied up knot of tension in your throat. Remove the noise and distraction of people’s online presence that can no longer make you happy.
Ask yourself these questions before you look at their profile. Ask yourself why you need to look before you do. And if, in any way, it feels like looking will upset you or set you back-