In recent months social media has felt more and more exhausting. If it’s not a political rant or debate that’s flooding my timeline, it’s in your face photos and posts of people’s lives who I began realizing I have little to no desire to dive deeper into. It began to feel unavoidable and increasingly irritating. With every scroll, I realized how every mundane detail of people’s lives was flooding my Instagram and Facebook feeds.
Social Media and Happiness
I began to wonder, ‘Is anything kept private anymore? Is there a middle ground of having to share everything with the entire world and keeping things for close friends and family?’ More and more I began to realize how unhappy my social media relationships made me feel. The surface friendships that flooded my timelines felt inauthentic and sad.
I began to peruse through my friend list. The irony was realizing handfuls of those classified as ‘friends’ on my profile were hardly even friends at all. Some were barely acquaintances. With each profile, I found myself asking who these people were. Some I would have no idea who they were if I fell over them in the street. Others I would probably bow my head and dodge the other way purposely avoiding them. And then there were those I hardly spoke to in school. Had it not been for social media, I would have no idea about their marriage, 3 kids, new home, adopted puppies, or how many times they checked in at the gym.
Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that social media has a lot of amazing qualities. The idea of being able to connect and reunite with almost anyone in seconds while accessing droves of information definitely has its perks. As someone who’s living across the country from my closest friends and family, I’m grateful for the social media connection allowing me to share exciting news and moments with them from afar. But what I began to realize was I allowed my social media platforms to flood my consciousness with things that don’t make me happy. People I no longer needed to be in connection with or bring me joy no longer get to have access to what I’m posting on my personal social media accounts.
The Social Media Purge
All I could think to do next was to begin deleting. A revamp was long overdue to rid my profile of old empty baggage. Just one click, and POOF, one by one they were gone! As the people pleaser mentality often surges through me, deleting ‘friends’ sure didn’t feel easy. At first, it felt just wrong – like I was judging myself for cutting the cord with other users without their knowledge. Was I a bad guy? Will they realize and call me out? Will they now only speak bad things of me if they ever heard my name again?
Guys who remained ‘friends’ after a single date, classmates who I never spoke to when we shared hallways together, even several famed ‘social media personalities’- no one was safe from my mass deletion. Before long, my friend list was refreshingly slimmed down, and I felt a whole lot lighter. No one came knocking at my door demanding answers on why they got the cut. Quite frankly, they probably never even noticed. All that mattered though, was that I noticed how great I felt afterward.
The digital detox forced me to acknowledge the relationships in my life. The good, the bad, and the ones that never existed. Seeing how much we overshare things that otherwise would be kept private or limited in nature made me question how much of my own life I wanted under a microscope. I didn’t need to go on a hiatus from social media, I just had to make it a healthy space. Weeding out my social media friends allowed my timelines to fill with content that I cared about. Whether photographers I am passionate about, motivational speakers or influences that uplift me, or celebrating the arrival of a friend’s new baby- these were the reasons I loved social media.
Moving Forward On Social Media
Many people believe that social media can be a toxic place, but it doesn’t have to be. The only way to see a change on your social media platforms is to take the steps to tailor it to your own individualized preferences.
There’s nothing wrong with being selective about who you surround yourself with when it comes to the deep abyss of social media. After all, your health and wellbeing are of the utmost importance. Content that fills your social platforms should bring you happiness, not frustration.