by Joan Ko
If someone told me a decade ago that using the internet and constantly being on my phone will drain my personal battery and make me feel miserable, I would've just laughed and told that person, "You don't know what you're talking about!" But lo, and behold, I am so close to making a vow to stay OTG (off the grid) and AFK (away from keyboard) permanently.
Most of the time I feel worse after scrolling through Facebook and Twitter and seeing friends and colleagues leading their lives better than I do. I felt a bit envious of vacation photos and engagement announcements, without pinpointing a specific reason (FYI: I never liked the idea of expensive travelling and I'm still far from ready to be anyone's Mrs.) which makes me feel even worse! Social media envy, as made-up as it may sound, is very much real and can affect anyone. Even the seemingly happiest and most blessed people out there also suffer from low self-esteem.
So what could be your saving grace when it strikes? From searching within me to talking to friends who felt the same way, here are the ways through which I overcome the anxiety that social media brings to me:
1. Accept that the world is imperfect.
Not everything on social media is real. Even if someone posts beautiful shots on their accounts, it doesn't mean that they didn't have disastrous stories behind it. Forcing perfect images of happiness will only make you feel worse especially when you think about how sad you are feeling at the moment. It is normal for you to feel sad–that's an acceptable human emotion and you don't need to curse the world for making you feel it. You have to acknowledge that you are flawed and imperfect because that will only keep you motivated to constantly do better!
2. Assess your mindset.
You have to stop being overly jealous and narcissistic because the world doesn't revolve around you. It is completely unacceptable to think that you deserve more than what your friends have–they, too, worked hard for whatever it is that they get to enjoy. So check your ego and make sure you don't get green with envy! If a friend keeps on posting about their adventures, let them be! Their success isn't your failure. Just be happy for the person and scroll along! Think about your own personal goals, so you'll keep motivated to go after them. Then perhaps someday, you'll be the one posting about your own adventures yourself.
3. Your worth isn't measured by likes and comments.
Having 300 plus likes on your Facebook and Instagram photos do not add up to real happiness. When you start craving for approval from your SNS circle, you'll be more likely to feel it consume you even more. The next time, you'll want 400 likes, then 500, and so on–a vicious cycle that you'll need to get rid of before you start feeling like nothing is ever enough. Don't post something with the thought that it should garner attention. You don't need to be validated like that. Share what comes from the heart, and nothing else should matter.
4. Create rather than consume.
Whether it's for a story or my actual feed, I make sure that everything I post is worth putting energy into. I turned to posting my own fitness journey, telling friends that dining out doesn't need to ruin anyone's diet, or sharing how a simple jogging can detoxify your mind and body from bad juju. I also post quotes that are meaningful so when my friends start engaging to it, I'll know that I was able to spread positivity around, not just consume it from others.
5. Filter who you follow.
The thing is that you should just unfollow people who make you feel bad. If these people consistently post things that make you feel jealous, insufficient, and angry, hit that Unfollow button without second thoughts. Instead, follow people for who they are and how they can contribute to your energy. Start by following and accepting requests from people you actually know. If you're skeptic about third-degree friends, forget about appearing nice to them because frankly you don't owe anyone anything. Follow people who actually inspire you. Whether it's someone who shares their fitness journey or another who takes their time volunteering for a cause, make sure that these online personas move you to be a better version of yourself in all the right ways.
6. Limit your social media time.
Finally, to filter out all the bad vibes online, make sure you limit your time on the internet. Don't just scroll through your feed endlessly because, chances are, you'll get sucked into it for hours when you could have been doing something more worthwhile. It's quite hard, but, trust me, it's doable. Instead of squandering away on social media, go through websites and apps that can feed your mind with new ideas that you can benefit more rathen than reading an entire thread full of gossip.
Though it may be daunting, utilizing your social media account to connect in a positive way rather than to complain and worry over the pettiest things can do you better. If ever you find yourself feeling bad over something you see on the internet, go back to the thought that your life should not be lived through your mobile screen. Give yourself a break, and just let your most authentic self come through!
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