Today on Seedling I’m tackling the topic of social media, something which I have mixed views on but overall I think it can be a positive place to be. We just need to be intentional about it.
And that’s what I’m going into in this episode. I talk about three steps I think are necessary to make social media a nicer place to be and improve your relationship with it.
Listen wherever you get your podcasts or here:
Links and further reading
- More info on ‘the social dilemma’ documentary (watch on Netflix)
- How to curate your social feeds
- What I do on social media free Saturdays
- Support me on Ko-fi and help me get past episodes transcribed
This week we’re going to be talking all things social media! It’s a big topic but here I want to discuss setting boundaries around social media, building a positive relationship with it and curating your feed to make it a positive and uplifting space to be.
Hello everyone, how are you doing? I hope you’ve all had a good couple of weeks. I’m so excited to delve into this week’s topic of social media. For so many of us, it’s a huge part of our lives and it can become quite a toxic environment, especially if we’re not intentional about our habits. And that’s really what I want to get into today, how we can be more intentional about it and enjoy our time online.
I wanted to start by sharing my view of social media, especially in terms of mental health. And I guess my view is that… it’s complicated. There are a lot of headlines out there about how damaging social media can be, especially for young people and we can’t deny the facts here. Social media can be bad for mental health, and I think young people who might be influenced by peer pressure and aren’t necessarily self-aware enough to make changes to help improve their relationship with it are particularly at risk.
Social media didn’t come into my life until I was at university and I can only imagine how my mental health issues I had before then would have escalated if I had access to social media. Kids today really do face a whole new world of challenges.
I’ll also admit that after watching ‘the social dilemma’ documentary on Netflix recently, I see the danger of tech giants and the effect it’s having on society clearer than ever.
Having said all of that, I do believe social media can be a tool for good. In fact, I believe it’s helped improve my mental health, a lot. It’s where I first learnt about intersectional feminism and body positivity. It’s where I realised I could reject diet culture. And it essentially propelled my recovery from anorexia into a place I never knew existed.
It’s also where I’ve found my community. Where I can share, meet new people, make friends and express my creativity. And of course, I’m not alone, for a lot of people social media has quite literally been a lifeline.
So while I do get nervous now and then about the dark side of it all, I feel compelled to stick up for social media. But for me, the most important thing has been building a positive relationship with social media, and I believe comes down to three steps: curating your feed, managing your screen time and leaning into what feels good.
So let’s start by looking into curating your feed. This is essentially all about auditing who you follow and asking yourself whether or not following them makes you feel good. When you see a post from someone, do you feel moved, uplifted, maybe inspired? Or do you feel deflated and bad about yourself? If it’s the latter, consider unfollowing them or muting them for now.
After my month-long break from social media this summer, the first thing I did when I returned to Instagram was cut the number of people I was following by half. I just went through and unfollowed anyone who I wasn’t engaging with or really learning from.
And after this point you can start searching for more positive accounts to add to your feed. Think about diverse voices here. Try to follow a real mix of people with different lived experiences to you and yes, even different viewpoints. Something I realised when watching the social dilemma documentary was that when we keep ourselves in echo-chambers, we become more and more divided as a society. So I’m now trying not to just block and ignore people when they’re viewpoints differ from mine – but I’ll admit, it’s a fine balance though and I’m truly still figuring this bit out.
Another important part of curating your feed is about shutting out ads or suggested posts when they’re not suitable. For example I often get diet and weight loss ads pop up in my feeds (thanks society!) and this can be pretty triggering when you’ve had an eating disorder so I always hide the ad. You can usually do this through three-dots or a dropdown arrow on the post, depending on which platform you’re on and I actually have a full blog post which goes into more detail about curating your feeds, so I’ll pop a link to that in the show notes.
OK, so now we’ve curated your feed and it’s looking like a more enjoyable place to be, it’s time to think about managing your screen time and I’m not going to sit here and pretend there’s a magic number of hours we should or shouldn’t be spending on social media. We’re all individual and it’s all about figuring out what’s right for you and what boundaries you want to put into place.
I know for me, I can use social media as a numbing tool. Whenever I’m experiencing a difficult emotion, or I’m procrastinating on a hard task (usually as I’m staring at a blank document and I’ve got an article to write), I instinctively reach for my phone and go to scroll on social media. I also know if I spend too long on it, I feel depleted and wiped out.
So take some time to think about how long you’d ideally like to be on social media, per day, per week, whatever and get those boundaries in place. Something I’ve been doing for a long time now is having ‘social media free Saturdays’. Just one day a week where I stay off it entirely, filling my time with things that inspire me instead like reading, watching movies, learning something or seeing loved ones.
I also take longer breaks from time to time, usually a week off and of course most recently I took a month off. Since coming back from that I’ve been a bit more rigid with my time away and I’m now also using the downtime tool on my iPhone to block certain apps after 9pm and before 9am so I’m not tempted by any early morning or late-night scrolling sessions.
As I said though, it’s about figuring out what’s right for you. Experiment with taking a break and see how it makes you feel.
And how you feel about social media really is the glue that holds this whole relationship together, which leads me nicely onto my last point – leaning into what feels good. So this is about letting go of any self-imposed rules you’ve set yourself, especially if you use social media to build a community or grow a business.
Showing up online can be an important thing, but this doesn’t mean you can’t do it in a way that feels good. After being so rigid and strategic with the way I was showing up online, I can honestly say it’s been so, so liberating letting go of these rules since my hiatus.
Now I feel like when I post, it’s because I have something to say, not just because I feel like I should be showing up. I’m a lot less particular about how things look and I’m honestly just having fun with it. And hopefully that energy is coming across, I certainly feel a lot more authentic and more like myself now.
So yeah, that’s my last nugget of advice here – see what you can let go of in terms of rules and how you can lean into what you really enjoy on social media. When you’ve created a lovely space, you’ve set boundaries to keep you level and you lean into what feels good, your relationship with social media will flourish.
It does require maintenance though, like any relationship, so check in with yourself from time to time, ask yourself how you’re feeling about it all and revisit any steps outlined here when you need to.
So there we go, I hope that was useful and I’d love to hear more about your relationship with social media – let me know over on, umm, social media! Instagram, I’m @katblujay over there.
And yeah, before I go I did want to mention that I now have an account on Ko-fi. This is a platform for creatives where people can support their work by donating a few pounds and ‘buying them a coffee’. So something I’m currently putting money aside for is getting all past episodes of Seedling transcribed to make them more accessible. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now and I’m really excited to be doing it and any money I receive through my Ko-fi account in November will go towards the cost of getting this work transcribed.
So, if you’d like to support me in doing this and support this podcast by contributing a few pounds, you can do so at ko-fi.com/katbluejay and I’ll pop the link in the show notes as well.
And yeah – that’s all I have for you this time, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with probably my most personal episode yet where I’ll be talking about painful sex so – eeeee, yeah, I’m a little bit nervous about that one! But looking forward to diving into some new territory here. Until then though, have a good couple of weeks and look after yourselves.