Social media has become a major part of modern culture, and for good reason too. By using social media platforms, users can stay updated with hundreds, if not thousands, of people of every second of every day. It is a fascinating tool that we have become so equipped to use, and it makes it just that much easier to become hooked.
This technology is powerful, and that is precisely why there are so many days I wish I was never on it. Despite all of its perks, social media damaged my self-esteem and it became a negative place very quickly. Like most people, I sometimes struggle with self-love and feeling "not good enough." That is a natural feeling that I'm certain we can never truly escape; however, it should be a feeling that pops up every now and again and not one that is brought on continuously just by opening up an app.
Ever since I started using Instagram, I've noticed its effects. Like most users, when I first created my profile I followed anyone and everyone I knew in an attempt to gain followers and to begin building my social network. At first, Instagram was just a place to have fun and it was interesting to see what everyone was up to, but then it quickly turned to a place where I began questioning my worth, especially in the ascent from high school to college. Instagram became a dreaded app because of its ability to always show what people are up to--and it often seems like people are living an extravagant and successful life.
The environment we situate ourselves in shapes almost everything about us. If the environment of social media becomes an increasingly negative place, the more it begins to shape how we view ourselves. That's why the more I used Instagram, the more I compared myself to the people I saw on it. Whenever I saw a post, I questioned why I didn't look the way they did, why I didn't act the way they did, why I wasn't doing what they were, etc. This often led to me questioning if I was even on the correct path, and it circled into an ever-evolving need to fit in and try to change myself so that I could appear as though I was just like everyone else.
This is a dangerous way to live life. And it took me quite a while to see that.
Social media shouldn't be something that makes you question your self-worth every time you log on. It should, however, be a tool that is used to inspire and uplift you, and that is precisely why over the past few months I've done a social media cleanse of sorts: I unfollowed anybody who made me question my self-worth, whether that was local people from high school to college or high-profile celebrities. It didn't really matter who it was, but if I saw what they posted and it started to affect my behavior in a negative way, I hit that unfollow button.
This seems like an obvious thing to do. If what someone is posting makes you feel bad, then shouldn't your natural response be to just unfollow them? Perhaps, but I find that it is often not as simple as that.
Prioritizing your emotional and mental health is so important. If social media begins to affect that, it is absolutely necessary to take a step back from it and consider the reward and cost of using these platforms.
By unfollowing accounts who've made me feel bad about myself, I've felt nothing but happiness. I've since used Instagram as a place to inspire me and I've followed accounts such as @femalecollective, @makerswomen, and @womenontop, just to name a few. These are platforms that ignite passion and inspire me to become a better person because they support the way I would like to live my life. When I go on social media now, I know that I'm going on there to be motivated and to see "wholesome" content instead of entering a repetitive circle of self-doubt.
That is what social media should be used for. If you find yourself in the position that I once was in, I encourage you to find the power in unfollowing accounts that make you feel, well, like crap. It can only benefit you in the end and I promise it is not as hard as it seems.