Social media can really bust my bubble sometimes. One moment I am feeling so confident I’m almost smug, so #lit that I’m glowing, and so clear in what I’m doing that I’m like the Goblin King with his crystal ball. But the next I am a rogue balloon frantically hurtling towards earth, rapidly deflating and making embarrassing high pitched yelps along the way. It’s like the schoolyard feeling of not being asked to play has been converted into a tiny device that endlessly scrolls through our shortcomings in the palm of our hand. Are you feeling me?
It’s time for a reality check though. You are choosing to allow social media to make you feel like shit. Don’t blame that tiny device or the little squares that you’ve decided reflect your shortcomings.
Life inside those little boxes, likes, hearts, emojis, and tags is as much reality as reality TV. Sure much of it is legit, but some of it is scripted, edited, and fabricated. And like reality TV the grand prizes are for those who play the game. You might love the Bachelor or Masterchef but only a few of us want to play as contestants and we scrutinise these shows knowing that cuts have been made in the name of entertainment. We don’t seem to second guess our news feeds in the same way.
I use social media every day. I love social media. But I also know when it is becoming an awkward third wheel in my life. Like when I leave my husband in silence while I’m scrolling. Or when I missed the bus because I was too busy finding the right emoji. Or when I wasn’t fully present watching my favourite band play because I was trying to focus my camera for the perfect Insta shot while being surrounded by thousands of jostling bodies. RIDIC right?!
Here’s my take on what to do during 3 common acts of social media sabotage;
Business: When #followers is making you feel unsuccessful
Social media communities are a huge part of business now, and I’ll admit I can get angsty watching my followers go up and down multiple times a day like a freaking yoyo. I whinge, I complain, I judge myself because I must be doing something “wrong”, and I basically act like a complete child over a number. Would I like to build a larger community? Yes of course. But does my number compared to someone else's mean that my work (which I believed in before I looked at the numbers) is suddenly shit? No.
I get it, sometimes we are judged by our following as to our experience and influence by those higher up giving the opportunities we want. For example I am judged on my following by publishers considering my writing, events considering me as a speaker, and journalist considering to cite me as an expert. So I reality check myself with these reminders when follower frustration gets me down:
- Want more followers? Keep going. Show up more consistently. Take your visibility to the next level. Be clearer and sharper in your message. Just don’t give up. Stopping is a guarantee to choke your follower growth.
- Remember how many “followerz_4_life” and “lowcostinsta_guru” followers you get. Everyone gets these. Everyones number includes spammy, irrelevant accounts that add no value to their community.
- You don’t know where other people started in their account building. They may have been at it for twice as long. They may have started with their personal account of 1500 friends before launching their business and repurposing their account. They may have sat in the same space as you, dejected and unsatisfied, until that media interview, great product idea, or lucrative collaboration with an influencer broke through that chokehold. So long as you keep going that can happen for you too.
- Don’t let your follower number stop you from applying for opportunities. Speak with conviction about your work, collect testimonials from your peeps, and have some fucking staying power rather than rolling over at the first hurdle of a number.
Relationships: When you’ve spent so long looking down at your screen your neck is too stiff to stare into your lovers eyes
Put. The. Fucking. Phone. Down. Simple as that. It is time for a break. The world won’t end I promise. It actually feels really good to miss a few posts or not catch that live video in time. Not only does it remind you that your life is rich and wonderful in its own right, but it allows you to be fully present to enjoy that right. We need to start developing sane relationships with our devices and soul-squeezing relationships with other human beings (and ourselves!). Here are some things I do to disconnect:
- Every Tuesday evening my husband and I both leave our phones in another room to spend the evening together
- My phone is not allowed to spend the night in my bedroom. It is not my lover, it's a hunk of plastic and metal. It charges out in the living room.
- I try not to check my notifications until I have mindfully started my day. Freshening up, drinking some water, stretching, perhaps going outside to meditate, journal and then eat my breakfast all comes first.
- When out with friends for a meal my phone stays in my bag. I used to put it on the table like it was another necessary piece of cutlery. You are out with friends. Be with your friends. (Permission to take that photo of your food if you have to but post it later, the world won’t know if your post was an hour later than reality).
Confidence: When your feed is making you feel unworthy/boring/unattractive/ [insert other unhelpful thought]
What is your feed really making you hungry for? When a scroll-a-thon induces an episode of comparisonitis it is time to ask what you are actually yearning for. Is it really that persons peachy bum, 6-figure bank account, guru-level status, beachside mansion, or nomad lifestyle? Go deeper and ask yourself what feeling it is you want, that you believe these things will give you. Identify the feeling and then you can uncouple yourself from that post by seeing ways in which you already have it or can create it within your life.
Also, be honest and call yourself out when you (perhaps subconsciously) are using social media as further “proof” of your shittiness. Instead of star gazing at what everyone else appears to have that you don’t, go to that often unused setting in your account of “photos you’re tagged in”. This can be an instant dose of gratitude. You have been tagged in those pictures for a reason - because you are loved, you made that day a better one for the people you were with, or you are so important to someone they chose to share that sentiment with you.
Share with me one thing you’ve realised about your social media behaviour in the comments!