A few weekends ago, I had the awesome opportunity of going on a retreat with a youth group with my dad’s church. I was excited to relax and spend some time with my sister and dad. But I knew two things for sure: one, that there was no cell service at all and two, I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive. I know, it sounds totally dramatic. But I use social media a lot in just one day!
The first night that we were there, I found myself desperately wishing I could check in with my friends. I wanted to let them know that I was having fun and making new friends. I also kept finding myself wondering what others had posted on Instagram. I didn’t want to miss a good post.
But by Saturday morning, I woke up feeling more refreshed than I had in a while. There was a lot of free time that day, and I found myself reflecting on why I’m so addicted to my phone. Is it pure boredom or do I really need others to give me constant attention? What did I want to get out of my different social media accounts? The answer before the retreat was simple: attention. Getting likes and retweets and comments made me feel like I was doing something right with my life. I got sucked into the idea of the amount of followers you have somehow proves your worth.
And let me tell you, boy was I WRONG.
There are a few super important things to remember when you’re using social media, whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, VSCO, Snapchat, and any other apps that I don’t know about.
The first thing is this: the number of followers you have in no way correlates to your self worth or importance. It’s HARD to get followers. I’ve been using social media for ages and recently became the social media director for a club that I’m in at school. Both from personal experiences and more professional experiences, I’ve seen just how hard it is to get active followers. I know countless people who post amazing content but have little to no followers. Just because you only have 20 followers does not mean that you are somehow less important than a person with over 1,000 followers. You are your own unique person with different ideas and thoughts than everyone else. You mean so much to the world, despite what you may think due to your number of followers. Ignore those numbers!!!
The second thing: really think about WHY you are using your social media. If it is for attention, you may way to take a step back and reflect on yourself. Yes, social media is somewhat selfish in nature, and we’ve all spent ages trying to take the perfect selfie for a tweet or Insta post. But here’s the thing. Your social media accounts are YOURS. You should be using them to express yourself and share the things that make you laugh. If you have a blog, you should be written about the things that drive you, the things that are important to you, rather than writing what you know people will want to read. It’s a balancing act, but in the end, lean more towards yourself, not your followers. You’ll feel a lot more happy! I used to stress big time over editing my Instagram photos. I wouldn’t post pictures of me and my friends from events if they weren’t absolutely perfect. But ever since I started to post for me and not my followers, I’ve felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders. Sometimes my pictures may be blurry and I know that I don’t have a feed that all flows together. So what? It makes me happy!
The third and final thing: do NOT compare yourself with others. Personally, I’ve struggled with this one a lot. I used to scroll through Instagram and the green monster of jealously would take over as I saw all the awesome things people were doing while I was stuck in the library doing homework for hours on end. It took me quite a while to realize that many of these people aren’t living the perfect life that I imagine they are. Some of the happiest looking people were struggling a lot with school work, boy drama, friend drama, and other things, just like I was. Instead of being jealous of people traveling the world or wearing awesome clothes I could never afford or having a giant group of friends that always seem to have each other’s back, I have changed my thoughts to something along the lines of “It’s awesome that my friends get to experience these cool things!” rather than “why do they get to do cool things and I don’t?”. This change in thinking took a lot of time, but in the end, I thought about my life and how grateful I am for the good things that I have. Maybe your life isn’t as glamorous as someone you follow, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have good things in your life either!
I could ramble on and on about social media and how an extensive use of it has affected my mental health. But the most important thing I want you to take away from this post is that it is OKAY to take a break from social media. If you find yourself sucked into a endless pit of worrying about what to post and whether or not your followers will like it, take a break! Post what you want to post because your account is yours and no one else’s! Have fun and don’t be afraid to try something new. You’re gonna rock it.
Have a great week!