If you are anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship with social media. Honestly, if I could figure out how to have my career without social media, I would delete all of my accounts and vanish from virtual reality. On the other hand, I love being able to be connected with family and friends, getting life updates, and seeing the kids growing up. Unfortunately, social media, as much as it is a positive portal where you can network and cultivate relationships, it’s equally as toxic. People get on platforms like Facebook and spew all kinds of hate and negativity, igniting flames of discord and drama in every way possible. These are the same people who will in turn bash others for taking social media seriously, talk about a pot and kettle situation.
When I found myself as the topic of family drama gone public via social media, the negativity of this brilliant creation invaded my real world and I was pissed. Angry because the foundation of positive vibes, Endometriosis awareness, and laughter that I had built my networks upon, shattered. The foolishness that I moved away from came looking for me on Facebook. I realized that neither time nor space had changed at a thing. I’ll never understand keyboard gangsters, they have a bravery on the internet that they don’t possess when you are standing next to them. Online, people can be whomever they choose to be, they can be wolves in sheep clothing or vice versa, it’s this element of autonomy that makes social media delightful and dangerous.
Comparing ourselves to others and feeling validated by clicks and likes on Instagram is just as damaging as drama-filled posts, maybe more. As Bloggers, we measure our success by the number of taps that we get on our blog and Instagram pictures. We refer to the insights and analytics to track our progress, growing despondent if our numbers aren’t growing as rapidly as the next blogger. We look at the creatively curated Insta feeds of the Influencers that we follow, trying to figure out what we are doing wrong and what they are doing right. The mind games of social media can wreak havoc on a person’s mental health and self-esteem. When I found myself deleting and recreating accounts to run from family craziness, agonizing over creating captivating taglines and fixating on numbers; I realized that I’d taken a seat on the stress struggle bus with social media as my driver. Everything that I vowed I would never let social media be for me, it had become. I was overwhelmed and contemplating quitting it all, something had to change.
My first line of defense was to decrease the amount of time that I had to be online, starting with using a scheduling app to manage my posts and posting schedule. Coincidentally or not, depending on what you believe, I stumbled upon a podcast by fellow minimalist, Brian Gardner. In the podcast, he talked about doing a social media detox and eliminating the sidebar on his website, I was intrigued. He suggested that users eliminate excess from their phones, putting the necessary apps into organized folders and deleting all the apps we don’t use. When he suggested that we turn off the notifications on our phones and devices, I jumped on board. I felt like God had heard the silent cries of my soul and dropped this podcast in my lap. Immediately, I began going through all the apps that I had on my phone, I kept what I needed, dumped the excess, and turned off all app notifications, it was freeing.
At the same time, I detached my ability to be successful from social media. Because I am a Blogger, I have to be on these sites, engaging with my audience, would-be audience members, and networking with others in my field. I have to be funny, personable, inspiring, but being stressed while doing it isn’t required. I rejected any thought that eluded to my engagement numbers being the sole indicator of my success. I began decluttering my followers and those that I followed, establishing an environment of informative positivity that gave to me as much as I gave to it. The more I built upon this minimalist approach to social media the less stress I felt. I wasn’t picking up my phone as much and the constant notification pings had gone silent. Additionally, I gave myself days off, Saturday and Sunday are my social media free days. As with any habit, it takes determined consistency, when I forget, picking up my phone on the weekend to scroll through my accounts, almost immediately I am reminded of my commitment to myself and I logout. With this new way of managing my digital platforms for work and personal use, I have drastically reduced my internet struggles, that love-hate relationship is shifting back towards gratitude, and I am beginning to enjoy the marvelous magic of the world wide web, again.