How Controlling My Social Media Feed Improved My Mental Health.

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As a 21 year old Sri Lankan woman, I found that, like most of us do, I would determine my self-worth by comparing myself to people on Instagram who looked nothing like me.

As soon as I clocked onto this issue, I immediately looked up as many young, brown, female influencers as I could and followed them all.

The result was instantaneous, I was following girls who had the same body as me, girls who had the same skin colour and I felt completely empowered.

I was inspired by these women not just because I could relate to them but because they chose to embrace their identity with pride.

My attitude towards my own body and appearance improved immensely all because I was curating and filtering the content I was feeding my mind.

Taking matters into our own hands, gives us the power to fill our minds with content that isn’t going to further contribute to anxiety, depression and overall, our insecurities.

Although boundaries cannot be placed everywhere online for what we do and don’t want to see, we can still actively work towards crafting a healthy social media feed.   

For most of us, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram has become a routine part of our day.

It’s the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we look at before bed.

According to socialmedia.com, the average user will spend around 2 and a half hours on social media a day.  

Although it may seem like a harmless way to kill time or wind down, the type of content we are consuming actually has a large impact on our mental health.

Man getting sucked into phone to represent social media addiction. Gif from Pinterest
Social Media Addiction

Social media is structurally designed to create the same feelings of dependence and addiction that gambling elicits.

It goes as far as re-creating the psychological cravings that slot machines evoke.

This can be seen in features such as infinite scrolling and the pull and refresh actions on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

According to Cognition Today, “the majority of social media users spend time scrolling and consuming content with minimal social interactions”, otherwise known as passive social media use.

A new field of study titled cyberpsychology looks at the effects of passive social media use on our wellbeing and mental state.

A study by the Journal of Psychological Research On Cyberspace, found that the effects of social media consumption is a two-pronged issue.

The two issues involve social comparison and a fear of missing out or FOMO.

According to Psychology Today, social comparison theory is when “individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others”.

The main problem with this is that we are comparing our unfiltered self against someone’s highlight’s reel.

A very real sense of FOMO can come out of seeing the best moments of everyone’s lives, but it is important to remain conscious of the illusion of perfection that our own social media endorses.

If each of us takes responsibility for seeing our own social media accounts for what they really are, we will eventually start to see social media for what it really is.

Girl holding pink phone with pink mug.

A great way to work through this issue is to take on the viewpoint of one of our followers.

Looking at our own Instagram through this lense, will demonstrate that it comes down to a matter of perspective because truthfully, our social media life through a follower’s eyes seems close to perfect too.

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Anisha Rapthi

CONTRIBUTOR

Anisha's perfect Friday night consists of playing boardgames and sharing a laugh with her nearest and dearest while devouring some Messina ice-cream. She is passionate about learning from empowering women and can usually be found listening to podcasts, watching videos or reading articles, obsessing over whoever the latest ally is. Like most millennials, her favourite way to wind-down is to grab a yummy snack and binge-watch her favourite Netflix series.

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