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Ever since its birth, social media has had many critics for its negative effects on interpersonal communication, mental health and body image, amongst other things. As there’s a prevalence of judgments and studies that confirm these negative consequences, we tend to forget about the positive effects social media has. 

It can be quite overwhelming to keep looking at numerous pictures of avocado toast, booty workouts and zoomed-in faces of girls with flawless skin. Essentially any thought on your mind in the form of a hashtag. We spend hours a day looking and looking, hoping to find a cure, a fix or guide for our issues.

Then, we decide to go on a “break”—-some kind of hiatus that we claim will help our mental health. We return with just a tad of FOMO, excited to see what’s new and start scrolling again until we can’t take it anymore. Again and again. 

However, what if we realize that social media is not the issue? What if we’re just looking for the wrong things? What if we’re attaching too much worth to our digital representations?

It all comes down to mindset and the way we’re viewing the importance of social media. We have become so intertwined with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube as if they’re our friends.

There’s nothing wrong with caring about your digital image, but that shouldn’t be the primary foundation of how you view yourself as a person in life. Social media has many purposes, but it becomes harmful when it’s main purpose is to define you. 

With this, we should view social media as a tool. It’s a numbers game; it’s advertising. For example, you think a picture you took at the club a few days ago isn’t worthy of being posted because your hair isn’t perfect. Now, remove the focus on yourself and your negative thoughts about your hair not being as straight as that Instagram model on your discovery page. Instead, think about the picture and its impact. You obviously felt good, got dolled up and enjoyed time with friends; that’s why you went to the club and took a picture in the first place. Thus, it’s just a picture of a group of cute friends having a fun time. 

Everyone loves fun and a lot of people like dancing. If you just posted that picture, tagged the location of the night club and added a few relevant hashtags, think about the opportunities that could arise. Everything you wear and every location you tag are all advertisements, making you an advertiser. Fashion accounts could see what you’re wearing and might message you to be a brand ambassador or the club you took the picture at could ask to use you as a magazine model; the opportunities are endless when you think about it with the proper mindset. It can be difficult and emotionally challenging to think in this manner, but it will direct your mental energy towards real, personal relationships and viewing social media as a more objective middle ground to share information with the world. It is up to the user to determine what they do with the provided information. 

Some doubts may arise, in regards to being noticed by businesses: what if I don’t have enough followers? What if they don’t think I look model-worthy? What if they don’t think my picture is of high quality? These are all perceptual questions, so the only answers you will receive must develop from yourself. Different businesses like different looks, styles and aesthetics. There are businesses for virtually every kind of niche, so all you have to do is determine whether or not you like the picture. Again, the key is in removing the focus on you. If you know you look great, then post it. When the doubt of comparing yourself to others begins to seep in, recognize those thoughts and steer your mind in the direction of posting for your benefit. Think of every post or snap as an opportunity to share your voice, opinion and any creative influence to personify yourself: poetry, fashion outfits, makeup, fitness, graphic art and much more. 

I also understand there are concerns about privacy and having limitations on what you can post, especially with family members or close friends that follow you. The simple answer is to block them. However, that can create even more issues. Instead, have two accounts. Maintain the mindset of using social media as a tool by realizing your limitations: have one account that is primarily for your creative pursuits, (this can include pictures of yourself too, but you would have to block whoever it is you need to block) and another account for just personal pictures. 

With the personal account, it can be much more difficult to maintain the mindset of being objective, but it still applies. It’s just another tool to make you feel confident in yourself; it’s not the basis of your worth. Apply this mindset by limiting the amount of time you spend editing and analyzing every pixel of your body and face. 

Remember that there are thousands of similar niche accounts for a reason: they all started from a few hundred followers and started posting pictures because they simply wanted to. They weren’t comparing themselves to other accounts or thinking they weren’t good enough to even try to make an impact. They removed the focus on themselves and understood social media as a digital marketplace. 

We all have the potential to achieve this mindset because we all want to intervene with the world; we all have some desire to create some type of positive change and it doesn’t matter how it’s achieved. This is the new way of impacting millions of people around the entire globe. Instead of running away and feeling anxious about never-ending posts, we must adapt to these changes, so that we can take advantage of the abundance of opportunities available in this digital era. 

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