A couple of months back, we went to see a brilliant talk by the fabulous fashion influencer Katherine Ormerod. It was the book launch of her book: ‘Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life.’
Over the hour, Ormerod discussed how our society’s over-consumption of social media has spiralled into us making ourselves miserable. How we compare ourselves to shiny accounts while posting content showing off to everyone just how perfect (and not real) our lives are. How we spend hours lost in endless scrolling… scrolling… scrolling…
It sounds like I’m trying to put myself out of a job here doesn’t it?
Well, I can assure you, I’m not! Because when Ormerod says that social media is ‘ruining our lives’, what she means is that far too many of us fall into the trap of using social media to, inadvertently, make ourselves feel terrible. She means that we fall trap to the temptation to use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. to be something we’re not and to follow accounts that leave us constantly comparing ourselves and coming up short.
And I couldn’t agree more. Me and my business are all about using social media to be authentic and true to yourself, that way it becomes a tool that enhances your life and your business, giving you the opportunity for true connection.
But, as great a tool as it is for connecting us all, I am aware that we need to use social media in moderation and be sensible in our habits to make sure it doesn’t begin to be something very negative. So, here are some tips I picked up and some I use myself to help you use social media for your wellbeing instead.
These tips are all focused around Instagram as it’s definitely the easiest one to get lost in! But they work across other social channels too.
Only share what feels comfortable and real
This first point is easily the most important. And this may be one of the best bits of advice I can give as a social media consultant: be REAL. The most important thing we have as humans and as brands is our personality, and social media should reflect this. It should really be about you, your life and your passions and sharing them with others, and this doesn’t always look perfect.
This isn’t always as easy as it sounds because, as Ormerod puts it, ‘we all want to look good on paper and we all want to look good on screen.’ Everything you post on social media does impact your personal brand after all.
But what’s not perfect is important and it’s what makes you, you.
Ormerod adds that social media should reflect the work you put into your life, not just make it look perfect: ‘The messy is the interesting part,’ she reminds us.
Don’t compare yourself to other accounts
Social media today has a huge problem, which is what Ormerod calls the ‘comparison complex’. Comparing ourselves to others is something we’re all guilty of in life and it’s especially easy to do under the huge magnifying glass that is social media. Staring at accounts where people present their lives as utterly perfect is always going to leave us feeling like we fall short.
Ormerod gave the apt example of how many people choose to spend their time on social media looking at tall, tanned, Australian beach babes. It might be nice to look at, but does it make you feel good? Staring at content that makes you think about what you don’t have constantly is going to leave you with a serious complex. What’s more, it’s important to remember that people present their lives as being far more perfect and more ‘instagrammable’ than it really is.
DON’T fall into the comparison complex trap. And the more you share what’s real rather than what’s shiny and perfect, the more you’ll pick up good habits.
Pro tip: try comparing yourself to previous versions of yourself to see how far you’ve come instead.
Follow accounts that feed your soul
‘It’s called a social media feed, because it’s exactly that,’ said Ormerod. ‘Because it’s hungry and it needs to feed.’ But, she adds, you have complete control over what you choose to feed it.
Since you have the controls, why don’t you follow accounts that feed your soul instead? Accounts that tap into your passions. Accounts that speak to your heart not your eyes. Accounts that make you smile. If you exclusively follow accounts that share videos of puppies then you’re never going to open your feed and feel bad about, well, anything.
Using social media this way means you can ensure that whenever you idly find yourself scrolling, you’ll get that warm, happy feeling that social media is supposed to give you.
Following the right accounts might sound easy, but I’m aware that it’s not always as straightforward as I’ve made it sound. I think most of us have had someone in our life we don’t want to actively unfollow, but whose feed does not make you feel good about yourself.
My advice, in these situations, is to mute the feed so you don’t get updates or see their content popping up in your scroll, at least for a while.
This is really easy, just go to the top of your feed, tap and hold the profile picture of the person whose story you’d like to mute then select Mute [username] > Mute Story.
Scroll free Sunday’s
This one’s really simple. If you feel like you’re spending too much time on social media, pick one day of the week where you don’t look at it at all (you can probably guess what day it is I’d recommend…)
Use the Pomodoro technique on your social time
If you follow me on any of my channels or have read any of my previous blogs, you’ll already know that the Pomodoro technique is one of my absolute favourites.
This system uses timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. You can read more about it in an earlier blog post I wrote about maintaining productivity.
You can apply this so easily on your social media time, making sure that you only view it for a certain amount of time then give yourself a rest. As of August, Instagram introduced a new feature which allows you to monitor exactly how much time you spend on the app. Just visit the Your Activity feature (it’s the very top button on your profile settings) which generates a graph showing just how much time you’ve spent on Instagram that day.
By keeping an eye on your usage you’re developing healthy habits that mean social media enriches your life but doesn’t obsess you. This technique is really helpful if you work from home as well and find your hand constantly slipping to scroll…
Social media is great and it’s really important. It’s given us a way to connect to our people, our businesses and our passions.
But like absolutely anything that’s good, we can’t have too much, and we have to be mindful of how we use it. Ormerod is right, we have a choice over what we look at, we have a choice over the content we absorb and a choice over how much we scroll. We have the complete controls, so it’s time to create a feed that makes that gives us that warm happy buzz and to share what makes us real the most true to ourselves.