Summertime is here, and that can mean exchanging the stresses of the schoolroom for those of the social internet. Luckily, there are some relatively simple strategies and practices you can use to keep the stresses of social media at bay to give yourself a more mindful, mentally healthy online experience. These aren’t counters to every challenge that the social media platform of your choice hurls your way, but they make for a helpful starting point.
Take a deep breath, and set a goal.
One of the sure-fire ways to get caught in a social media spiral is to log on for the sake of logging on. Remember your reasons for going onto this platform, and adhere to them. It’s good to check in with people or stay up to date on the news, but the priority is to enjoy your time here.
Curiosity is one of the core values of MEDIAGIRLS, and this is part of the reason why. Since you’re only seeing the carefully curated highlights of people’s lives, social media does not and cannot give you the full story. Taking social media at face value, or worse yet, letting your imagination spiral to create a narrative on this shred of information, breeds stress. Sit with each emotion that you feel, and take stock of it. Decide if it’s worth keeping that feeling around, and if not, let it go.
There’s no shame in unfollowing or muting accounts.
People change and grow. If an account no longer makes you happy the way it used to, click unfollow and move on. If you’re unsure about completely leaving an account behind, lots of platforms have a “mute” functionality so you can take a break and give yourself time to make a decision.
The point of social media is to socialize.
We tend to treat social media like Google results or a museum gallery, staring silently at what’s on display and then moving on. But the key to getting the best out of social media is to interact with people and be part of the community. Find people with common interests, and instead of passively scrolling and “liking”, write comments and replies. Offer feedback that shows you are genuinely interested. Make something of your own and show it off to the world. Study after study has concluded that this active use is what makes social media worthwhile. We at MEDIAGIRLS heartily agree: use your voice, get involved, and you will have a more well-rounded experience.
Companies and algorithms have a lot of power on the social internet, but the final authority on your feed is you. It’s your brain, your time, and above all, it’s within your power. With these critical media literacy tips in mind, here’s to a mindful summer on social media!
Katherine Lynch is a student at Emmanuel College in Boston, Mass. She studies Communications and Media with a minor in Marketing. She loves to read, write, and learn about the world, passions she is eager to share with the MEDIAGIRLS community.