Building Healthier Social Media Habits

Social media has become a huge part of our lives, and as useful as it can be for finding jobs, meeting new people, or viewing entertaining content, it's very easy to fall into unhealthy habits. The pressure to receive enough likes or followers, warped perception of other people's lives, and unrealistic expectations have all proven destructive to my mental health. And while my daily 7+ hours of screen time on TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat clearly don’t reflect this opinion, I have been working to build a better relationship with social media. Here’s how:

#1: Limiting my following

Looking through my following lists, I realized that most of the people I was following were strangers. My feed was filled with a combination of photoshopped celebrity body pictures, pictures of people I didn’t even recognize, and constant story updates from the girl I hadn’t spoken to since 7th grade. And while I know for most people my age a follow on social media is more of a social gesture, at the end of the day, the result is the same: The people who you choose to follow are whose life updates you choose to see. Unfollowing the accounts that were negatively impacting my mental health and instead choosing to follow accounts that put me in a positive mindset made me feel better and more confident. 

Laptop and Phone

 #2: Changing my perception

Through social media, it is incredibly easy to portray a lifestyle that appears perfect. In reality, this is most likely an inaccurate representation of that person’s everyday life. One of the most important habits I built was to see pictures and videos for exactly what they are — a tiny snapshot of a moment of someone's life. Rather than spending my Friday nights tapping through Snapchat stories of people who seemed to be having much more fun than I was, I started to think about how what I posted was perceived. I realized that there were so many aspects of my life that were not on social media, and as cliche as it may sound, social media truly is a highlight reel. We post the best parts of our lives and leave out the rest, and I found that I was interacting with social media in a much healthier way once I reframed my perception of other people’s posts.  

#3:  Rethinking my reasoning

I saw a TikTok video that said something along the lines of, “Why am I afraid to post on my own Instagram account?” While I did laugh, I couldn’t help but notice that the comedic line was simply masking the insecure behavior that social media promotes. I, like many other people, have spent hours deciding on the perfect Instagram picture and caption, worrying about the post not getting enough likes, and ultimately deleting it because I was afraid of what other people would think. As normalized as this behavior is, it made me think about why I was actually posting. I decided to make my only goal posting things that I enjoy, without the added worry of whether I was posting too much, not enough, or the “wrong” pictures. Social media is supposed to be fun, and your account should reflect the things that make you happy.

woman filming vertical video of woman throwing confetti

Though social media comes with its negatives, I admit that it's not all bad. However, it's essential to figure out the most beneficial way to interact with social media to foster a healthy and safe space for your well-being.