Looking to detoxify your social media feeds? It’s not always a case of deleting your accounts altogether. After a month off Instagram in January, I’ve been carefully pruning my feeds, and I’m already enjoying the effects. Here’s my tips for ridding your social platforms of negative vibes.
Should I detoxify my social media feeds?
Before I go into the details of ‘how to detoxify your social media’, here’s the why. The negative impact of social media on mental health has been much-discussed, as of late. Most of us have felt these effects at some point, whether it’s life envy (“Why don’t I have an engagement ring, my own house, and a six pack?” or just general annoyance at some supremely annoying chick you went to school with, flogging diet tea on Instagram.
The thing is, you don’t have to put up with it. The whole idea of platforms like Instagram is that you can curate your own feed. If you want to minimise agg in your day, you have to take personal responsibility for the content you’re subjecting yourself to. Inundated with snaps from an influencer who makes you feel inadequate? Unfollow. Still stalking an ex and wondering why they’ve moved in with their partner, even though they never seemed that keen to commit to you? Unfriend.
Sounds simple, right? Actually, it’s not always that easy – so when I started out, I went all Marie Kondo, and approached my social media cleanse on a category by category basis.
I know what brands I love. But having their dreamy, carefully curated posts in my feed has the dual effect of a) making me feel like the things I already own aren’t enough and b) tempting me to spend, when I’m trying to live more minimally. So, I’ve unfollowed the majority of brands on Instagram – meaning, when I want to buy something new, I have to actively seek it out. As a result, I’m making more informed, less impulsive choices.
Influencers are a controversial topic. I used to follow a bunch, and could easily spend hours getting lost down the rabbit hole of their pages. But do they genuinely make us happy? Do they actually inspire us? If you answered a sincere ‘yes’ to that question, then more power to you – but the majority of influencers just make me feel inadequate, unadventurous, and like I haven’t ‘followed my dreams’ hard enough. (Or been born with a very photographic face that looks good in candid shots. Bitter, yes, but am I wrong?)
And, just like brands, I can still seek their content out when I actively need it. It’s what hashtags and Google are for. But you really don’t need to be ‘inspired’ to travel the world or work out every five minutes.
Plus, you know. Fyre Festival.
The reality is, there’s very little be gained from following people you don’t know on social media. Even if you are interested in a public figure, do you really need a continual stream of updates about that – or could the occasional Google suffice?
Again, this isn’t a blanket statement. At first, I thought I should unfollow everybody I’ve never actually met – but then I realised I get genuine pleasure from following people like Bryony Gordon, Roxane Gay, and basically every Queen from Drag Race.
So for this category, I’ve found a different rule. Only follow people you don’t know on social media if you’d happily spend an afternoon with them. I would happily drink tea and shoot the shit about mental health with Byrony Gordon or Katya. So, job done.
Strangers (or people you barely know)
Why do we follow people we spoke to once seven years ago? Literally why? Imagine how you’d feel if somebody you hadn’t spoken to in years started sending you a daily email update of their life. Imagine how fucking weird that would be. Following them on Instagram is not all that different.
Okay. I know it’s funny/satisfying to send screenshots of people’s social media insanity to your group chat. But it’s a pretty weird thing to do, when you think about it objectively… because you’re choosing to let feelings of anger, irritation or disgust infiltrate your head. Bin this lot off, for your own sanity. Unless they’re someone that’s actually a part of your real life, in which case…
My number one tip for detoxifying your social media? Be liberal with your mute button
Look, I get it – we all follow certain people we don’t strictly like, but we can’t get away with ditching. Like the girl you sit opposite at work, or your sister’s weirdly sexist boyfriend. But it’s exactly this sort of person who can be most toxic to your general zen when you’re browsing Instagram.
I can’t be the only one who has genuinely frothed themselves into a rage over how annoying a certain somebody’s incessant stories about her boyfriend are? Anyway, my point is: mute it. Mute their posts, mute their stories, mute their tweets. (Muting Facebook posts isn’t a thing but Facebook is just for memes now anyway, so who cares.) If you know it annoys you, don’t keep choosing to look at it.
Detoxify your social media: it takes a while to do, but the benefits are quick to arrive
Granted, it takes a little while to sort through your follow-list. And Instagram actually blocks your ability to unfollow if you do too many at once, so you might need to space it out. Still, give it a try – because chances are, you won’t miss 99% of these people… but your peace of mind and general zen will increase. And, with less content to scroll through, you might even find yourself spending less time on social media as a result.