Serious question… have you ever been on Insta or Facebook and come across a pic of a super skinny, super toned, tanned, impossibly perfect girl and just thought, “Ugh, really?” Did you scroll down looking for another post with maybe something funny or smart or inspirational, only to come across a million more pics of perfect girls and guys frolicking by the perfect beach, or at a perfect concert, or looking at a perfect sunset? And people wonder if social media depression is a real thing!
Whether we like it or not, social media is part of our lives. Only a very few of us are brave enough to avoid it completely, and so most of us try our best to put up with the positives and the negatives.
And at first, the perfect pics aren’t so bad. At first, seeing the odd pic of someone exercising or enjoying the outdoors makes us feel good and inspired, like it is refreshing to see someone away from screens and in the sunshine just enjoying a tech-free life (despite using a phone to take the pic).
But after a while, when the perfect pics take the place of almost every fun and goofy pic, they just start to get overwhelming. We begin to compare ourselves to them, to feel inadequate, and to fall out of love with who we are, what we look like and how we live.
A recent #StatusOfMind survey confirmed something a lot of us already knew. Social media is no longer just connecting us and making us feel part of a community, it is also sometimes doing the opposite; isolating and alienating us and making us feel inadequate and alone.
So how can you keep your social media — and your self esteem?
We’ve had a long hard think about this, because (obviously!) we love social media too, but we’re also girls, and we know how it can take our mood from high to low in couple of clicks! Here are our tips for avoiding social media depression and using your Facebook and Insta in a way that helps you love yourself more.
- Follow laughter
So many of us follow the likes of the Jenners and the Kardashians and other celebs that are so devoted to how they look and getting the perfect angle, that it just starves your soul. Others follow fitness advocates who manage to get the perfect pose, while running, without breaking a sweat. And while these kind of profiles can be good — they can help us take pride in our health and appearance — they are a) not real life and b) waaaaaaaay too serious!
Find accounts from people who don’t take life so serious; who take the piss out of perfect and people who love to have a laugh — and to share the things that make them laugh. When you follow accounts like these and stop following perfect popstars, you’ll find yourself grinning like a weirdo every time you open your Insta.
- Forget people altogether
Sometimes, we all just need to escape from life a little bit. We need to forget about mean girls, frustrating teachers, out-of-touch parents — and what do all of these things have in common? They are people.
To really escape, try following accounts that don’t focus on pics of people. Yeah, we’re talking about the cute puppies, the tiny kittens, baby Scottish hairy cows, overactive hamsters — name an animal, it will makes you feel better!
Or if animals aren’t your thing, check out accounts that are about beautiful sceneries, great quotes, or even things like mind benders that can distract you from the stresses of everyday life and get you thinking about something else.
- Don’t forget the frames and filters
If you think you can put up with the torture of constant perfection, try to keep some perspective when looking at the pics.
These days, insta pics are like pieces of art; they are carefully constructed, with thoughtfully-chosen colours, softening and flattering filters and angles that highlight only the best of their subjects. It’s important when flicking through your Insta account that in the front of your mind, you always remember how much work has gone into getting everything just right.
- Stick to your friends
A really easy was to keep Insta simple and chilled, is to only follow friends who you know, love and really want to keep up with. You have chosen your friends for a reason; maybe they bring out the fun in you, help you feel more confident or comfortable, or they have that little bit of weirdness that makes life more of an adventure. Either way, they are in your life because you want them to be.
Limiting your follows to friends, means you are inviting pics and posts from people you are interested in, whose lives you can relate to, and whose experiences you want to share. You naturally feel happier for your friend’s celebrations and moments of achievement or joy than you do for those of a stranger. Feeling truly happy for someone else and grateful they are in your life can make you feel more fulfilled.
- Limit your screen time
Studies from around the world have shown that extended screen time can be a factor in social media depression. In general, they say spending more than two hours a day on social media can start to have a negative effect on how you feel. Try enforcing your own daily limits on social media and instead of extra screen time, fill your spare time with fun and real friends, in real life!
- Steer clear of comments
Finally, the toughest thing about social media is not always the pics, it’s how nasty those keyboard warriors can be when they comment on other people’s posts. Strangely, even when the pics or posts being commented on aren’t yours or even those of someone you know, spending a lot of time scrolling through bitchy comment after judgey comment after bitchy comment can really affect how you feel, not just about yourself, but about the rest of the world.
The big take away from these surveys is that too much time online can cause social media depression and can make you feel pretty down on yourself, but it doesn’t have to. Choosing to use social media to have a positive impact on your life is an option too!