Ah, social media — you beautiful and complicated thing. You’ve wiggled your way into our daily lives, keeping us sweet with likes, love hearts and lols.
We can’t remember a time when you didn’t exist — nowadays, phone calls seem archaic and modern-day courtship has been reduced to strategically placed emojis (I’ll never look at an aubergine in the same way).
But for all its faults, social media IS great — admittedly, I’m addicted. I’m a typical millennial. I honestly believe Facebook brings us closer together, Twitter is the best resource for easy-to-digest news, and Instagram creates business opportunities for small-time writers like myself.
The problem with social media doesn’t lie with its existence; after all, the technology was created to serve us rather than vice versa. Many people’s disillusionment stems from the communities they create — it’s nothing to do with how many hours you trawl through cat memes and everything to do with who you follow.
Take my Instagram account as an example — I’m a yoga teacher and I use it to attract people to my classes, discover new postures and meet other enthusiasts. But recently I’ve noticed a shift. Instead of engaging posts, my feed is littered with celery juice cleanses, sun-kissed gym rats and Lululemon ambassadors trying to sell mesh leggings (possibly the worst invention ever).
I don’t know exactly how it happened. I just know it’s causing a little anxiety.
I imagine plenty of you are in similar positions. But instead of blaming the apps for our daily dose of self-loathing, we should be asking why we follow certain people and how is their content affecting us?
Why you should detox your newsfeed
Social media creates a false reality
Nobody wants to talk about how shitty their lives are, not when they have Instagram-worthy snaps of their babies, boyfriends and brunch to share.
When we see people living impeccable lives, it provokes feelings of inferiority — but it’s an unreliable narrative. Nobody is sipping margaritas on a beach 24/7. A week later, they’ll be elbow-deep in dirty nappies and contemplating divorce just like the rest of us.
Social media equals echo chamber
Remember Brexit (how can we forget) or when Trump became president? Were you shocked to the very core? I was — I didn’t see it coming and this, unfortunately, is thanks to my newsfeed.
We gravitate towards like-minded individuals who share our worldview. Without meaning to, we create insulated communities that offer little in the way of diversity. I’m not suggesting we follow people we hate, but there’s real value in broadening our perspective and increasing our feed’s variety.
Social media disconnects us from the real world
Who wants to go out and experience things first-hand when they can live vicariously through others? Not me. Honestly, living online isn’t a terrible thing, but we run the risk of letting our non-virtual relationships wither and die.
How to feel better about yourself on social media
To avoid the above, I suggest you detox your newsfeed (it’s the only detox I’ll ever condone). It isn’t hard to get started — just follow these five simple steps…
Unfollow people who make you feel bad
Seems obvious, right? But so many of us follow people who make us feel lousy. Whether it’s the latest fitness guru or your great aunt Pam, who body shames you at every family BBQ, you’re under no obligation to keep toxic people in your life.
Follow people who make you feel good
How do you feel after seeing dozens of photos of chiselled abs? Does it inspire you or drive you head-first into a tub of cookie dough (guess which one I am)?
Recently, I swapped #fitnessgoals for #feminism which added a new dimension to my newsfeed. While I love learning about the hottest new workouts, I can only stomach so much before wanting to puke-up my morning acai bowl.
Make a point of diversifying your newsfeed
Remember the echo chamber earlier? Take steps to avoid it by diversifying your newsfeed. This doesn’t mean following people you hate — it means adding accounts or pages that challenge your perspective in positive ways.
This is particularly relevant for those in the online yoga community. For every hundred photos of privileged and picture-perfect practitioners, there’s only a smattering of posts from WOC, men and plus-size yogis. There’s only so much you can learn from a newsfeed full of Lululemon models.
Follow accounts that promote news
I know, it’s a novel idea. We associate social media with voyeurism but it can be so much more. Whether you’re interested in health, travel or politics, make sure to follow trustworthy accounts that’ll improve your knowledge.
Use social media to explore the real world
Instead of letting social media disconnect you, use it as a catapult into the real world. From meet-ups to events, there are plenty of opportunities to get out there and make new friends. Although I’m an introvert by nature, social media lets me refine my search to find activities I’m actually interested in. Who’d have thought?!
Originally published at https://ashleighmayesyoga.com on September 19, 2019.