It’s a constant issue, but that’s no news to you I’m sure. Social media comparison has always been a point for high-anxiety—especially among millennials. Psychology Today says that this feeling of anxiety can result in incredible loneliness and depression amongst those who constantly engage with Facebook & Twitter. There are even studies that dive into the implications of social media and how it creates an unhealthy amount of anxiety for those who engage with it on a daily basis.
However, like I said, this isn’t much of a surprise. If you or someone you know has a social media profile of some sort, then you understand the anxiety that comes with it. The constant need to one-up the other with a beautiful photo or a funny tweet, showing others the “beautiful” life you live while masking all of the flaws, the tears, the heartbreak, the anxiety, and much more. It is very real, and very easy to fall into.
When I first created my Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook account, I did so because I just love posting. I love sharing images, I love getting creative with posts, and I love to blog. I will admit, over time I truly did feel social anxiety to try and prove to others that I do have my life “together”. I would work hard to find the perfect Instagram image while trying to hide the fact that I had just sat for 16 hours straight on my couch with nothing to do because I still didn’t have a job. I let it control my actions, my mood, my thoughts…and soon realized that something needed to change.
The turning point for me was deciding on making social media my job. As someone who works with social media as a full-time career, I had to find a silver lining amidst the chaotic whirlwind of 24/7 media. Because I knew if I didn’t I would probably fall flat on my face. So I took a step back to look at the bigger picture of my overall online presence, and what it means to have it in my life.
At this point, people usually just delete their accounts. I’ve had friends delete Instagram and Facebook because, once looking at the big picture, they find that they truly don’t need social media at all. Props to them for taking such a huge (and very healthy) step in their lives.
But as I looked at the big picture, I came across one overarching theme: I just love to create & document. I love creating beautiful images. I love using them in a post and giving those around me tidbits of life advice when it comes to being healthy. I do it because I love it. Even if only one follower engages with me and takes away something new about living a balanced life, then I still did something right.
So if you are experiencing anxiety when it comes to your social media platforms, here are a few questions that can help you see the bigger picture towards your online presence.
Why did I create my profile in the first place?
Let’s take a journey back to the day that you created your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat…and look at your reasoning for doing so. It’s common for most people to create a profile because someone recommended that new social platform. So yes, in that moment, you created the profile because of a recommendation. But why did you keep it? What was your driving purpose for keeping your social profile? Once posting, what did you want to get out of it?
What do I want to create?
This question is probably going to be the hardest for you to answer. What type of social media do you want to be creating? If your answer is “anything to show off my beautiful life,” or something to that effect, you’ll instantly be able to see your unhealthy relationship with social media. BUT, if your answer is “to document and save beautiful memories” or “to engage with the rest of the world,” then I think your relationship is on a healthier track. For me? I love to take and edit images, to post blog entries, and share tidbits on how to live a healthy life. I want to create posts that will help my readers, not hinder them or bring them anxiety.
What is my outcome for creating?
Like I already wrote, I create posts that will help my readers live out healthier & happier lives. My outcome isn’t to have more likes and follows, but providing information that will help my readers live out a balanced lifestyle throughout the week. Yes, it is satisfying to have a larger number of followers, I will give you that. And I will always be excited when new followers hop onto my account. But I don’t do it for the number that I want it to be, but for the number of people that are already following along.
If you are contemplating your social media presence, and find yourself constantly battling with the social media comparison game, then it’s time to step back and look at the big picture. Ask yourself these three questions—why did I create my profile, what do I want to create, and what is my outcome—to truly get a grasp of what you want your presence to look like. I cannot guarantee that your social anxiety will go away, because I do think an inkling of it will always be there. But I do think this will decrease the anxiety you feel by a healthy amount, and bring the joy back into posting online.