Tired of the negative effects of social media on your life? Sick of seeing people vomiting their emotions onto the internet? In this opinion piece, Kerry Leigh explores how social media has impacted her life and how you can protect your wellbeing while scrolling.
I’ve stopped notifications on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and am very rarely active on any of them these days. Smug? Not really. Living through a pandemic isn’t the best time to further isolate yourself, I know. But seeing the first few words of someone’s emotional vomit pop up on my phone when I’m on a video call, or using my phone as a SATNAV, gives me an unhealthy brain fart and takes me somewhere I don’t need to go.
‘This is horrible news’… ‘My Dad died last night’… ‘What a dreadful human being’… Just four or five words, uninvited from someone else’s world, can directly change the way you feel in that moment.
What’s the answer? Get rid of it all? I don’t know. I’ve met dear ‘real-life’ friends through social media. I’ve also been to great events I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. But on the rare times I visit FB or Twitter these days, it seems awash with outpourings of grief, anger and frustration; unsurprisingly given the times we live in.
Is it up to me what people put out there? Nope. So, I’m focusing on what I can influence, which is what I do see and read. And limiting it, to focus on people I can actually help and have capacity for. By the way, if it were up to me, I would insist people only tell us about upcoming events, share cute pics and funny anecdotes, or post requests for a reliable plumber.
I do have specific people I choose to go to that always lift me online, Suzie Dent being one of them. This made me smile on 28th June:
‘Word of the day is 'flapdoodler' (19th century): a speaker of nonsense; a deliverer of twaddle and flimflam.’
I’m not saying people shouldn’t say how they feel. Self-expression is vital for humans. But it seems that so many people are ejaculating their reactions straight into the womb of the internet before stopping to think what it will spawn. Would it be more useful to write it down or actually have a conversation with a friend, whether online or face to face?
Can I see the irony of this piece being posted on socials? Yes. Do I know what the answer is? No. But I do know I’ve felt better and been more productive by changing the way I use social media. Something to consider if you notice that it’s having an impact on you. Taking action and making small positive decisions can be very empowering when we start to feel stuck, low or overwhelmed.
So how could you change the way you use social media to improve your wellbeing? What small changes would have the most impact?
If you need support to manage your wellbeing or mental health, why not take a look at our mental health page? It’s full of free resources and strategies to help you.