My social media use has changed drastically during quarantine. As I’ve spent more time indoors, on my couch, doing nothing, I’ve also found myself mindlessly scrolling on various social media feeds now more than ever, even if everyone else is just at home, on their couches, doing nothing as well!
I’ve made lots of changes to the way that I use my phone and social media, both before and during quarantine, in order to reduce the amount of stress that they trigger. Many of them are very small changes, but all together, they’ve saved me a lot of anguish – and I hope they can be helpful to you too!
Managing Your Feed
Learning how to mute things has changed my life!
Seriously, mute everything! I started off by muting push notifications for new emails when I realized that there are very few, if any, emails that would need my immediate attention. I continued on to mute push notifications for most of my apps. Instagram is the biggest and most popular, followed closely by certain text message chains, but I’ve made a point to shut off any unwanted notifications as soon as they pop up. At the end of the day, I’ve found that every little chime, vibration, and screen light-up is a distraction, potentially pulling me away from what is happening in real life, and can even trigger unnecessary emotional responses, both good or bad.
I’ve also made a point to mute specific accounts on my own feeds. For example, though it admittedly felt bad, I muted posts from friends at the beginning of quarantine who were acting in ways that I disagreed with, and were ultimately stressing me out for no reason. Additionally, on Instagram specifically, I started muting stories from people who I did not personally know, or brands that are not local, or, in general, accounts with long-winded stories that I just didn’t care about! This also allowed me to start following accounts that made me happy – specifically, mental health tips, word art, and plant pictures – without worrying about needing to tap and swipe through their stories every day.
For example, I stayed off of Twitter for a long time because the discussions there often triggered anger and stress for me. However, I also realized that I enjoyed tweets that I saw reposted onto other platforms and wanted to follow some of my favorite comedians there as well. To compromise, I decided to be extra mindful of my Twitter usage – only following people who gave me joy, unfollowing people who didn’t, and being extra mindful of emotional “black holes” and “booby traps” in the form of reading the replies of a slightly political tweet, or even peeking at trending topics.
(On that note, probably just don’t read the comments on anything! Ever!)
Managing Your Expectations
On a similar vein, I’ve found that it’s important to remember that you have (almost) complete control over your social media usage. (‘Almost’ because feeds are sometimes jumbled up in random order, and there are often trending topics and ‘Explore’ pages that you can’t always avoid – but you can try avoiding them, right?)
Finally, it’s always good to remember that social media often serves as a “greatest hits” of other people’s lives – both those you know in real life, and those you don’t, like influencers or celebrities. Many, in the latter categories especially, even have ulterior motives for their posts, like sponsored content and general self-promotion.
There’s really no point in comparing your own reality with the snapshots that are posted online. I figured this out in the before times, when I’d see someone at a party post about being out with friends, then spend the rest of the night sulking (though, honestly, I’ve probably done this!). I even stopped taking videos at concerts when I realized that the clips would be unwatchable and were taking away from my enjoyment of the show itself.
Even going off of my example from above – it was stressful for me to see people doing things that I considered “Covid-dangerous” on my feed, but I didn’t know the whole story! Maybe they were all getting tested regularly! Maybe they had all quarantined before and after! It wasn’t worth the stress of marinating over a situation when I didn’t have the full picture.
Perhaps working through my own internal issues and finding my own ~inner peace~ through taking care of my own mental health has helped guide the way that I use social media now – that is, highly limited to protect my own happiness! How pretentious, but also true!