We are all aware to some extent of the damage that browsing social media sites can do. We know that looking at that picture of a stunning model with the perfect figure isn’t going to make us feel good about ourselves – yet we still take a peek. We know that seeing friends swanning off on endless plush holidays in enviable destinations doesn’t make us feel great.
Do you pay much attention to the thoughts that run through your head whilst scrolling through your Facebook or Insta feed? We’ve all had that feeling of inadequacy after a cheeky social media session. When you feel a little bit low and empty, and start to think your life isn’t where it should be or yearn for things you can’t have. Well, sometimes I feel truly shit. I know it’s having an adverse effect on me yet I just can’t help checking Instagram 20 times a day.
All it takes is one photo to make you feel down. And your mood can go from being pretty dandy to down in the dumps in an instant. I’m intrigued as to what really goes through my head (and other people’s) when I’m on Insta. Your thoughts end up being like a radio playing in the background that you aren’t actively listening to, but you’re still absorbing. But what happens when you pay attention to each and every thought and write it down?
I wanted to find out. So yesterday I did a little experiment of my own. I sat down and made myself scroll through the main feed on my Insta. I looked at both the suggestions that come down when you click the search button, and my personal feed. You might be intrigued to discover just how many damaging thoughts I had. I’m going to share them with you below to not only help make myself realise how detrimental this is to my mental health, but hopefully do the same for others too.
- I wish my hair looked more glam and less like I’ve walked out of a jungle. Why doesn’t my hair shine like that?
- All these women on Insta have such vibrant, sparkly, colourful eyes. I’m aware they’ve probably edited them, but still, my eyes are dark and dull.
- She definitely did not wake up like this – how does her makeup look this good? Why am I so rubbish at doing my own makeup. I need to try different looks.
- Why can’t I be in those crystal clear seas?
- There’s a video of a guy sliding on a lido off a glacier. My life is clearly boring and very mundane. I need to do more cool stuff.
- That picture of Lucerne is awesome, I wish I’d taken better pictures. My travel pictures aren’t good enough.
- Why can I only seem to do my hair in like two styles. Everyone’s hair looks amaze on Insta. I need to learn how to do more with my long hair.
- Why can’t I have ten huskies? Why can’t I own all the cute dogs? I want to run a rescue sanctuary and save them all.
- There are millions of other wedding dresses I could have picked (thinking this despite the fact I love mine and know it was the right choice). Hers looks incredible. Did mine look that good?
- There is so much of the world I haven’t seen. How do these travel bloggers manage to go to so many places in such a short space of time.
And that ladies and gents is just a very small shapshot shot of what goes through my mind during one Insta viewing sesh. The tip of the iceberg so to speak. I know what you’re going to say, maybe it’s down to who I follow and my perspective on things. Well, yes, I perhaps do worry more than your average social media user, but on the whole, I’m pretty sure everyone is having thoughts along these lines.
I am however going to make a conscious effort to only follow people and accounts that make me feel good about myself. But it does take a while for Insta to update based on your preferences, because it has saved my habits and the things I’ve viewed and think it’s producing helpful images for me.
I think you can make the best of social media on one condition. Awareness. If you are aware of these thoughts and you can learn to ignore them or question them, then you can help prevent so much damage occurring. The next step is to limit your usage. Perhaps one decent viewing sesh a day at a time where you’re feeling mentally strong.
Here’s to changing my habits and improved mental health.