So as I am writing this it has been two days roughly that I have not been on Instagram, as someone who luckily and to my complete surprise built a community into 40,000+ people who I connect and share with daily it can be a world of mixed emotions for me to step back. I am so happy that so many people have connected with my story and are so supportive about the content I put out. Since 2013 at Chooselifewarriors birth, using my experiences to help others has been a whirlwind and I am very grateful for my platform.
Yet about 6 months ago I started noticing a decline in the happiness it brought me and this wasn’t because of the lack of love or lovely people, but because online trolling & hate seems to go so rife on my account sometimes I just honestly don’t know how to deal with it. Sometimes those words linger like a bad taste in my mouth, sometimes it does affect me more than I would like. I am human and consistent online abuse isn’t okay and while I do my best to use the tools Instagram has to deal with these issues (such as the block option) as well as my own self care strategies, The negative aspects of all social media apps can make me feel run down.
I love my phone, I really do, sometimes I worry that I maybe love it too much. I never seem to be able to put that elusive screen down. Emails, Work, Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Text Message REPEAT. Sound Familiar? So how do I deal? When I feel really weighed down and like social media isn’t serving me anymore I detox. Detoxes are a great way to step back and really re-define your relationship with technology and social media in particular. Catch yourself thinking maybe I need a break? but can’t step away from the bright screen and double tapping, Here are a few red flags that might mean you should think about taking a instant insta-cation! No matter whether you have 5 followers, 1 million followers or simply a private ‘friends only’ social media here are some things to look out for…
RED FLAG : Are you being bullied, trolled or online harassed?
Before you detox because of this reason please know, firstly this isn’t your fault. If I could offer up a decent reason of why people are so horrible, apart that they are probably unhappy sad little monsters I would – but please know you do not have to disconnect as your first option. You have legal rights, if someone you know or someone is repeatedly harassing you and has their private information for the world to see you can take it to the authorities. If you are a teen or even an adult please tell your parents, teachers, partner, friend or someone you trust you do not have to go through this alone. Just because it is online does not mean it is not illegal or less harmful than physical bullying. You can also block people many social media sites have this option. Do not feel ashamed in blocking and deleting people who are harmful to you – you do not owe anyone anything. Regardless of if you know them or they are a stranger.
You can also ask a friend, partner or someone you trust to do a delete and block spree on your behalf as to not read the comments yourself. I have a few people in my life to do this especially my inbox, my partner who is an early bird usually jumps on and deletes any dick pictures I receive. My boyfriend is truly a gem!
Where a detox may be helpful in this circumstance is for someone like me who has hundreds of trolling messages and comments weekly often by anonymous untraceable accounts a detox can re-charge your batteries and blocking fingers. You can disable your account which is what I do. I do this to make sure no further activity happens while I am away and I usually give my password to my partner so I don’t cave and re-login asap. Detox also doesn’t have to mean a full delete, a detox could be putting your phone down for a couple of hours to go outside or to meet up with a friend. There is no right or wrong time limit.
RED FLAG : Are you constantly comparing yourself or your life to others on social media?
Do you ever envy stalk and reacquaint yourself with the Jelly-Monster? This silly monster lets us believe that girl you once went to school with does spend every day on yacht with champagne even if it is her dads friends yacht that she went on 2 months ago and usually spends most days working her ass off just like you. The scary thing about social media is the pressure to present your account in the best light. Trust me that girl you follow with the slay makeup skills doesn’t mean you’re ugly and if that other girls confidence doesn’t inspire you it just makes you feel diminished perhaps consider the unfollow button. The FOMO & comparison game on Instagram is rife.
The first step to avoiding this syndrome is to check in with yourself and feel free to unfollow all of the accounts that do not serve you. If they make you feel less than or consistently like you don’t have your shit together or envious of what they “have” than boo just unfollow. It doesn’t do you any good to constantly see images and or text that makes you feel unhappy or jealous. Envy & Jealousy are such useless emotions and comparison steals all your joy. That person you are envious of, I guarantee does not want to make you feel bad, they would rather you unfollow and if they don’t/can’t respect that that is their problem.
Where a detox is needed, you might need to disconnect if it seems that every where you turn on social media you find your spirit dwindling and your comparison running high. Just DISABLE and come back to it with more energy, clarity and realize that a lot of social media is deceiving angles, good lighting and imitates life somewhat of a fake alternate reality. Find yourself accounts that resonate with you and inspire you, anything that makes you feel like shit isn’t going to push you to be happy.
RED FLAG : Are bad news and articles making you feel sad and hopeless?
This red flag is always really apparent on Facebook for me, some how all of the pages I liked in 2011 are really now backfiring. The amount of spam, crap content, scare mongering, trashy articles and the truly awful things happening in the world compile on me like a social media dump. BOOM 10 minutes in I am convinced this world is only full of utter crap things.
Yet this isn’t true! Don’t believe me look at this! I spend so much time reading up on the ever changing, forever hard to keep up with, probably distorted, biased and un-fact checked world news that by the end I feel as if I am devoid of all love and happiness. These are times when I force myself to switch off for a day or two. Simply put, not reading all the sad and awful things does not make you ignorant it simply means you need a break. That is mighty okay and for some one like me my anxiety doesn’t need another reason to flare up. So instead of news, I go on Pintrest and look at plants, seriously I do (No that does not make me weird).
RED FLAG : Do you find yourself obsessing over the number of likes, comments, follows, messages and responses you are or are not receiving?
If you ever have the fleeting thought of ‘I hope a lot of people liked my picture’ STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE. Instant short lived gratification we receive from likes, tweets, follows etc can somewhat take on a leveling up feeling. Listen you are not PLAYING social media you hopefully should be using it as escapism (Hello stalking clothes companies I love), connecting with others, following people or things you find interesting and using it to enrich your day to day not stunt it.
If you feel crappy because you don’t get any likes or as many likes as someone else (Revisit the comparing Red Flag you just read) ask yourself how is your worth tied into that false response? It is mighty wonderful when people support and love what you put out into the world, but lack of it doesn’t and shouldn’t diminish your self worth.
Followers, Comments & Likes shouldn’t be your goal of social media accounts, if your account grows it grows – if it doesn’t you’re still a kick ass wonderful person.
If you feel the pressure to live up to numbers, chase following amounts or tie your worth to responses or tweets – It is time to step away and detox. Hug a tree, a cat, your mum because there is more to this world than screen tallies, remember that!
Taking detoxes from technology especially if you feel as if you may or are addicted to the instant short lived gratification or comparing your makeup collection and or body to others please let yourself step away from that world. Social media can be an incredible tool of support, help, connection and fun but do not let it replace your real life experiences or emotions. Don’t forget some social media accounts might not affect you in the same ways. Such as me with twitter… 140 characters are you kidding me, I can’t edit myself to save my life! I don’t understand twitter and that account doesn’t make me feel drained. Where as Instagram is my bad egg, I need vacations away from that bad boy and I am okay with that.
Related to this article? Don’t forget to like and share with your friends so they too can know that contrary to what our society thinks – disconnecting is sometimes the best form of connecting. So click off and just sit, check in with yourself without having to check in on Facebook.
I’m off to enjoy my time however I like. A vacation without the pressure or bullying on some of my accounts, I got to tell you 2 days down and I already feel much better about myself and life. I’ll be back, I’ll never give up because of haters but it doesn’t make you less than to realize you need to detox.