Written by Shaden Ahmed.
With the ubiquity of social media, we compare ourselves to others now more than ever and are constantly overloaded with more information than is necessarily healthy. As we spend hours staring at a screen and doing nothing with our lives, our sense of reality is distorted, and we begin to feed into the insecurities that advertisers aim to perpetuate. These apps are designed to be addicting, and with that, we become slaves to consumerism and prisoners to our minds.
I believe that creating a healthier relationship with social media is not only possible, but crucial for our mental health. Many studies show a strong link between excessive use of social media and the alleviation of symptoms of depression, anxiety and decreased self esteem, which according to Homewood Health Centre works hand in hand with eating disorders and body dysmorphia as well.
Now you are probably wondering, “Well then, how do I escape this cage of comparison and begin to live my life fully?” Although it is much easier said than done, you must explore this question on your own and at your own pace to discover your own true meaning of inner peace. There is no one, absolute answer. You must keep trying until you find what works best for you.
That being said, here are three tips that have helped me transform my relationship with social media:
- Change your Mindset
Realize that the virtual world that exists on our phones is not real and does not matter. Our lives are all so different and unique, so it is unfair and a waste of time to compare ourselves to each other when we should instead focus on living and improving our own, individual lives.
- Filter out the bad with the good
Unfollow celebrities and anyone to who you find yourself negatively comparing yourself to. Social media pressurizes us to define our happiness by how we see others living their lives. We draw connections between things we do not have and happiness; “If I had this car, I would be happy,” “If I had their body, I would be happy,” “If I had this relationship, I would be happy.”
The even bigger issue is that we know that these posts on social media are staged, edited and made to look better than they really are, yet we still choose to deprive ourselves of feeling satisfied with our lives. Think of it this way: If we were all satisfied with who we are, what we look like, and what our lives are like, the billion-dollar consumerist-driven industry would fall to its knees.
Instead, follow more positive pages and diversify your feed with multiple ideas of “beauty” and “success.” For example, follow influencers with different body types and fashion styles. You could also try following successful people who pursue hobbies and careers that you are interested in.
- Set boundaries
Just like any healthy relationship, you need to set boundaries with your use of social media. Replace the time you spend talking to others online with talking to the people who are sitting right beside you. I find it helpful to frequently take breaks from social media; it reminds me of the life I am living and it frees up so much time for me to be able to do so. I believe that “healthier use of social media” requires limiting our use of social media. According to researchers, the more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to suffer from mental health issues.
If you genuinely put your mind to it and decide to take these steps, you will begin to see your life more clearly and therefore be a better fit to take the necessary steps you need to better your life. You will also begin to realize how much free time you have which you could then use to read a book, go to the gym, cook up a new recipe, or spend time with the people you love – it is a win-win! Say goodbye to your social media addiction and hello to your new life!