Keeping a Sustainable Brain in a World with Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest players in the game nowadays. We already know that it’s a practical necessity within our businesses, social lives, and keeping up with current events. We’re aware of our usage of instagram, facebook, twitter, etc. However, the aspect of social media that we don’t see is perhaps just as powerful and significantly less presented to our conscious minds.

The average American spends more than two hours on social media per day. That’s two full hours of comparing the ins and outs of our lives to others’ well-edited posts. Two hours of over-saturating our brains with advertisements and media biases that we haven’t necessarily asked for, and yet, are entirely unavoidable. Where once lay a space in our brains for creativity, productivity, and mindfulness is now filled with two full hours of scrolling, liking, and comparing.

We are likely too far gone to live in a world without social media. We also don’t necessarily want that. As social media expert Bailey Parnell puts in her TedTalk,”Is Social Media Hurting You’re Mental Health?,” we don’t have to get rid of social media, we just have to adjust our way of viewing it. And there are steps that we as individuals can take to better our relationship with it and use it as a sustainable tool for entrepreneurial and personal growth.

Step 1. Acknowledge the negatives. The constant exposure of others’ lives, particularly highlighted moments, forces us to compare them to our own almost entirely without our awareness. This invasion of our subconscious does nothing for our general sense of happiness and self-worth nor is it a recipe for sustainable mental health. After all, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

Step 2.  We must learn to screen our followings. How many times do you scroll through your facebook or instagram feed and feel significantly worse than you did before scrolling? For a lot of us, this is the norm. We’re doing this scroll when we’re bored, on a break,  at work, or even at the dinner table. It’s constant. And a lot of what we’re looking at isn’t making us feel better about ourselves. Maybe it’s that celebrity account that you’ve followed forever and the reality of you not having such a luxurious life makes you feel worse. Or your closest friends giving you “fomo” because you weren’t invited out with them the night before. Maybe it’s the fitness bloggers or lifestyle accounts that just make you feel like you’re not doing enough. Or maybe it’s that ex-lover whose page you can’t seem to stop landing on day after day, after day. Whatever it is, the negativity significantly affects our mental health and ultimately our ability to be productive, happy, and present in our day to day.

But we don’t have to put up with it. No one is forcing us to follow these accounts or to keep constant tabs on our friends. We choose this. And just as easily, we can choose to unfollow it. It’s just as important to protect our own minds from negativity as it is to promote the positives. We want to use social media for all of its good, not the other way around. So, notice what’s bringing you down. Then unfollow it. It really is that simple.