I shared the following post on my Instagram feed (@nadineecohome) and wanted to provide more detail here.
The average user spends just under 2 hours and 30 minutes on social media a day. This length of time has likely increased during a worldwide pandemic too, as we’re spending more time at home and less time out.
If we spend so much time on social media, we should at least utilise the functions to make it as nice a place for our mentality as possible.
Here are some simple ways to feel more in control of social media:
1. Unfollow accounts that don’t make you happy
Like how you would choose which friends you wanted to hang out with, you should also be selective in who you follow on social media. It seems obvious, but if seeing someone’s content on your social media feed makes you feel insecure, sad, angry, doubtful, or miserable, you should unfollow them.
Whether they’re a celebrity, brand, or someone you know personally, if they don’t make you happy – unfollow them. Life is too short.
2. Restrict access if you don’t feel like you can unfollow
Last year Instagram added a ‘restrict’ feature, which means you can stop seeing comments or messages from someone without them knowing you have restricted them. To that user, they will see their comment or message as being sent to you, however it will not appear on your post or in your inbox.
The feature is great if you don’t feel you can unfollow a person (for any number of reasons), but still want to restrict how much access they have to you.
3. Mute words and phrases
Whether you’re avoiding spoilers or just don’t like seeing a certain topic
A must for any film or TV fan avoiding spoilers on Twitter is the mute feature. But it’s good for your mental health too. Muting words and phrases controls the type of content you see on your feed.
It’s a simple on/off feature, meaning that you can unmute after a while too.
4. Mute accounts
On Instagram you can mute stories and or posts
Like words, you can mute accounts on Instagram. You’ll still follow them, but when they post to their grid or a story, it won’t appear on your feed. If you go to their profile you can see the content, it’s only your feed they have vanished from.
It’s a good way to manage your feed and be selective of the content you wish to see. Twitter and Facebook have similar settings.
5. Use Close Friends
Only show certain things to those you want
Say there is something personal you want to share on your Instagram story that you don’t want people who don’t know you personally to see. You can share this story to a group you have specifically chosen.
Facebook and other social media services have similar settings, meaning you can stop oversharing (something I am guilty of!)
6. Block accounts, if you need it
Make your account safe for you. The feature exists for a reason.
I think people can still be scared to use the Block feature. For a while it seemed only relevant to use on people with extreme, opposing views.
But it’s not just for for online trolls. You can block celebrities. Or people you know in real life. Even family. It might seem severe, but the feature is there for you.
7. Don’t take it personally if someone restricts, mutes or blocks you.
It’s a boundary the person has set to feel more comfortable. You may not have done anything wrong, but you can still respect their boundaries.
I once found out someone had restricted me from seeing their content and felt hurt for a while. I wondered what I had done, how I could make it better, if I should say something. All these thoughts were about me. Not that person. There was a reason this person didn’t want me seeing that content and if it made them feel more comfortable then that is what matters.
I’ve since been blocked by people too and I’m ok with that. It took me a while to be ok, but realising there is nothing you can do helps you get over it. No point spending my time worrying. If I look at my block lists, I’ll see lots of names there too. Everyone has their own reasons to restrict, mute or block someone. With social media being so popular now, it’s important that people control their feed to make them the most comfortable or happy.
Personal boundaries (something I am learning more and more about), are important for ourselves and others. We need boundaries to feel safe, comfortable, and to heal from situations. It may feel like a shock if you realise you have been blocked, muted, or restricted, but it is a boundary that you have to accept just as you would like people to accept boundaries from you.
This great blog about being blocked by someone on Instagram is worth a read if you’re struggling with this.
8. Lastly, take frequent breaks
Remember: social media feeds are echo chambers. It shouldn’t be your only source of information.
I don’t need to go into depths about why social media breaks are good for your happiness, mental health, wellbeing and overall life. We know this. We hear about it (on social media no less) enough. But it’s still important to end this blog with the reminder.
I’m better at taking social media breaks compared to a year ago, even if there’s room for improvement. As a social media addict, I need to remind myself often that breaks are good.
It’s also not a bad time for a gentle reminder that social media feeds are echo chambers. We can get comfortable thinking that the world is full of opinions and voices that match our social feeds, but it’s not the case. Worth remembering as a probe to take more frequent breaks.
Thanks for reading.
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