I’ve been blogging and sharing videos on YouTube for a little over 10 years now. Over the years, I’ve been on the receiving end of a fair share of trolls, negative comments, invasive questions, unreasonable demands, and general untoward behaviour online. Although social media is generally a fantastic place and resource, it can sometimes be difficult to manage all the negativity that exists online.
With recent studies showing that social media is negatively impacting our mental health, here are some of the ways I protect my peace and maintain my sanity on social media.
Be intentional with the content you follow
One of the most double-edged sword aspects of social media is that it shows you what it thinks you want to see. So if you’re seeing content that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, tell social media you don’t want to see that content anymore. Do fitness accounts make you feel bad about your body? Unfollow them. Do mommy bloggers make you sad about your struggles with infertility? Stop liking their photos. It is completely normal to go through stages where certain content brings you joy, so don’t feel like you owe anybody a follow if their content no longer brings you joy.
Remove Yourself from the Fight
I used to enjoy a good, grammatically correct, clap back! But I simply don’t have enough energy to respond to every troll comment or DM. The second I feel that someone is coming at me sideways, I either block or remove follower. The remove follower feature is fantastic for one-off grievances, but if someone is really out of pocket, the good ole block button works perfectly. Removing yourself from the fight also pertains to unfollowing accounts that spew negativity, not getting into comment wars with random strangers, and turning off your phone during moments of high national/international stress.
This may not be relevant to everyone, but as someone whose work entails large amounts of social media usage, it’s important for me to create boundaries both for myself and others. I have some unwritten rules of engagement, such as only personally responding to DMs/questions that start with a greeting (cuz we have home training over here), not talking to men on social media, and setting aside a certain amount of money each month for charitable donations. Some bloggers, like Hayet Rida, turn off their DM messages periodically whenever they’re no longer able to keep up with the inundation of requests. I have a social media manager who responds to most things so this isn’t a concern for me, but the point is to know yourself and create boundaries around usage and engagement to protect your peace.
Find another way to destress
We spend a lot of time during the day scrolling through social media trying to keep up with what other people are doing. And though it seems like we’re winding down or getting ready for the day when we scroll first thing in the morning or late at night, social media usage can increase stress, anxiety and even depression. Rather than using social media as a way to wind down, considering reading a book for 15-30 minutes a day or picking up another hobby or self-care activity. I’ve been doing a lot of DIY and decor projects around the house as a way to wind down (I know counterintuitive bc I’m using my body and my mind to hang a gallery wall but I promise I’m relaxed!).
Take a Break
Right after I had TKB, I took a break from social media to be able to focus on the new motherhood journey and rest as I got acclimated to our new life as a family of three. It was important for me to take this step because I was able to detach from work and other things online that didn’t matter at that particular moment and focus entirely on what mattered — that I had just given birth to a handsome little boy and that I wanted to raise him in the best way possible. We tend to get lost and scroll away for too long on social media. Another way to go about this setting a timer for social media scrolling. Once the timer goes off, then go on about the rest of your tasks!
Even after following all these steps, it’s important for us to realise that social media is neither good nor bad. In whichever way we choose to use it, we need to make sure that we use it in a positive and healthy way that doesn’t impact other users negatively.
I believe this powerful quote from Michaela Coel’s speech during her acceptance speech at the 2021 Emmy’s summarises it all.
“In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success—do not be afraid to disappear. From it. From us. For a while. And see what comes to you in the silence.”
I’d love to know what other ways you use to prioritize your sanity online!