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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Alberta chapter.

I remember when I got my first cell phone: I was younger than I probably should have been and got one before many of my friends did, so all I had in my contacts were house phone numbers. It was cool, but it wasn’t something I had much use for at the time. Now, like most others, cell phone use is a big part of my daily routine. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up. This is not because I’m desperately interested, I’m just a very sleepy person and need an immediate on-hand distraction to keep me awake in the morning. Not the best method, but it does the trick for now. Regardless, it is a part of my day, and scrolling through that endlessly refreshing feed can easily stretch into a longer and longer sedentary screen-time session if I’m not careful. Realizing how much time I spend on my phone some days has had me thinking about what I’m consuming and sharing for others to consume in that period. When I’m on social media, am I having a positive experience? Do I follow accounts that inspire me and encourage me to accept and love myself or change for the better, or do I feel inadequate and unaccomplished? How does the way I interact with others on social media affect them? 

These are questions I’ve been beginning to ask myself throughout my scrolling, and I’d like to explore some of the ways we can make our experience with social media more positive. Just as the food we eat affects our bodies, the things we see and focus on in our day affect our mentality. If we’re going to spend so much time online, we might as well make sure it leaves a good impression.


To Follow or Unfollow

Instagram used to be a negative media experience for me. I most often left the app feeling jealous, self-conscious, and unaccomplished, until one day I realized that there were a few particular accounts that were having this effect on me. When I clued into this, I chose to unfollow them, a small act that for some reason felt bigger than it really was but had lasting effects nonetheless. 

Removing negative stimuli from my experience was helpful and adding positive ones to my feed was a beneficial next step. I’ve started trying to find accounts that are engaging and encouraging, and I’ll share some of them here (all handles are for Instagram accounts):

@thebirdspapaya is in a word: transparent.

Sarah Nicole Landry’s Instagram and podcast practice a daring and refreshing brand of vulnerability and acceptance that’s much needed in the digital space, where most feel the need to emulate perfection in their online persona. She is unapologetic in her promotion of body positivity and talks openly about traditionally awkward subjects to remove stigma. 

@serenakerrigan is in a word: confident. 

Also known as the Queen of Confidence, Serena began introducing herself as Serena F***ing Kerrigan to help change her mindset and is now a young woman preaching shameless self respect, confidence and independence as she works to build her brand. Serena’s positivity is energizing and aggressive and encourages you to be the best version of yourself you can be.

@namastehannah is in a word: accepting.

Hannah’s page advocates for body diversity and acceptance in a very gentle manner. Her posts bring focus to positive relationships with food and movement, encouraging the action to stem from a place of love for the body, not hate.  

@nicolezaajac is in a word: genuine. 

Following Nicole feels like following a friend more than an influencer. Her page centers around her own journey for self acceptance and her relationship with her body and her stories and captions are all genuine and true to herself. 


Posting: To Share or Not? 

Facebook is a platform that I experience a lot of frustration on, most commonly spurred on by seeing controversial political news and debates that I may not agree with. Often when I see something upsetting, a part of me desires to share it and see others get upset as a way to seek validation for my opinion. I’m not about to speak about talking against politics here- discussion is important, but for myself, sharing those things only bred and prolonged the frustration when there was really nothing I could do anyways. The other day I came across one and shared it and actually went back and deleted it because it felt so much better to just move on with my day and not let it get to me. 


Posting: Let’s Connect

How often do you go to post something, get to the caption, and get stuck trying to think of something to say? I usually want to go for something witty and entertaining, but you know what I found so much easier? Being honest, and just writing about whatever I was honestly doing or feeling in that moment. Once I just admitted that I was really craving blueberries, and it felt good to interact with a digital platform more like it was a conversation than a display. This is something I’d like to try to do more, along with asking questions in my captions to encourage response and reflection and maybe establish more moments of connection. This is especially in regards to relatable content: sometimes when you take a chance and allow yourself to be open and vulnerable, you’ll find that others can relate or want to show support. 

Regarding responses, I encourage you and would like to try myself to comment or reply more to people’s posts. As Serena Kerrigan says, “comments are currency.” If something someone posts makes an impression on you, let them know! Take a moment to build someone up and give them feedback whether you found them relatable or funny, tried a book or song they recommended, or even just liked a filter they used. Spread the love. 


Take Breaks

As positive of an experience as you can make your feed, it’s still important to limit the amount of time you spend on social media and allow time for yourself to digest other parts of your reality. Take what you gain from your digital space and reflect on and bring it into practice. 


Social media has gotten a bad rep lately for its significant side effects like the ironic increase in isolation, cyberbullying, and body image issues but to be fair, I think we might be using it wrong. If we can bring the focus back to connection and take the initiative to create a positive experience for ourselves and our followers, we should be able to create a more fruitful digital encounter. Since I’ve started to implement these changes, going online and checking on certain accounts has become a motivating part of my day rather than a passive time-waster or a downer. I’d still like to limit the time I spend online more, but for now I’m glad that what I do spend is leaving me for the better rather than the worse. 

I'm an undergrad student who's all about balance: my favourite pants are of the pyjama variety and I love to cozy up inside with Netflix and coffee, but I also love to get outside and walk in our riverside parks or try a new activity in town. You'll find me on campus in the sunniest study spots, soaking up some rays as I work towards my Journalism degree.
Simi is a senior at the University of Alberta studying Sociology and Religious Studies. She grew up in Houston Texas and lives by the saying “go big or go home”. She is currently Her Campus Ualberta's Editor in Chief and Campus Correspondent. School, volunteering, clubs, and work occupy most of her time. You can find her on Instagram at @simi.bhangoo.