Being on social media can be overwhelming because of the amount of content at your fingertips. Plus, you might find yourself aimlessly scrolling for hours, or staying up late watching reels or videos. However, I’m not going to talk today about how social media is a time-waster. I’m going to discuss how social media affects our confidence and mental health.
Firstly, if you’re susceptible to content that might get you down, then social media isn’t really for you.
Here’s a great way to see if you are: if one of your friends posts a success story, would you be proud of them, or would you start to feel jealous?
Many people might initially feel proud of someone else’s success, but it’s more likely for them to develop negative feelings toward it since they begin initiating comparative thoughts in their minds. It really goes back to the person’s character, but it’s completely normal to compare. But, you can’t stop others from posting about their successes, and it’s hard to not see their posts in your feed because you follow them. So, what should you do?
I believe it’s important to see other’s success as an opportunity to learn something. When you read about someone’s success story, rather than thinking about why you aren’t as successful as them, you should take it one step further and see what has brought them success. Then, see if the things that brought them success can be a guideline for you.
Whenever I learn about anyone’s success, I am genuinely happy and proud of them. I’m more interested in ‘how did you do it’ rather than ‘why can’t I do it.’ This makes a big difference. If you begin to think of these stories as a learning opportunity, you can easily (and willingly) celebrate others successes and not feel jealous.
Another question to check your susceptibility: how would you feel if someone posted negative comments on your wall or profile? Would that upset you?
I do believe in constructive criticism, but I also believe in the power of words. We can say the same thing in so many different ways, so I do wish everyone could be more careful with how they phrase their words when posting on social media. However, if we took every negative comment to heart, there wouldn’t be much left in our confidence, would there?
How I get over negative feedback is to firstly recognize that everyone’ opinion can and could be different from my own. Then, I shelve it in the back of my mind, so I can learn from it, but not dwell on it. If you take this approach, words can only affect you so much.
Now, the purpose of this post is not to tell everyone to stop using social media, but to change your perspective on it. You see, what we see and read on social media is never the full picture for anyone, even celebrities.
My writing mentor from self-publishing school once told me: “Doris, you must start being comfortable with using social media because it is the best way for authors to market themselves without hiring an agent. Remember, you have the power to post what you want others to know, so if you aren’t ready to share something, don’t post it. But, you must still post.”
This was 3 years ago when I deeply thought about what he said. Think about it: if you aren’t ready to share that you were bullied, then don’t post about it. If you want people to know you love cats and not dogs, then post about it. You control how you write your story to the public, but be prepared for how others might respond to it if you share it.
At first, I posted very positive things, but eventually, I felt that my public profile was very ‘fake,’ because it didn’t expose the raw truth that made me ‘me.’ What about our failures? If we share it with others, can’t others learn from them so history doesn’t repeat itself? Wouldn’t you want others to not go through the same thing you did?
When I began thinking about sharing things on social media in this perspective, I began building meaningful content. I also began feeling less overwhelmed from social media because I was no longer afraid to share the truth or how others might perceive it.
Whenever we post online, we must be prepared for both positive and negative feedback. Obviously, posts on success stories have a lower likelihood to have negative comments. Similarly, funny stories are unlikely to receive negative comments too, unless the person didn’t get the joke.
There will always be haters and you can’t stop how other people feel or what other people want to write as a reply. So, before you hit the publish button, ask yourself if you’re ready for it to go either way. If we are truly afraid of the bad, then why post at all? If we want to hide from the bad, then how can we ever learn?
If you’ve been following my blog from Day 1, you’ll notice that I write about my challenges and failures quite often. I have several posts where I share my backstory and all the non-glorious things I’ve been going through. This is because I want people to know that life can be messy, and isn’t only filled with positive things. Isn’t there a saying that goes, “life isn’t all rainbows and sunshine.” My hope is that others realize, through my stories, that even at our worst, we can still find a way to come back.
It’s important to celebrate our success, but it’s also important to acknowledge our failures too. Social media can be overwhelming, and you don’t have to post about everything in your life. Post what you’re comfortable with, but don’t forget to still post.