Discover more from Dear Twenty-Somethings
Reframing the Social Media Matrix 📲🌀
Let's reclaim the scroll.
Hello, my Dearest Twenty-Somethings! I hope you all had a restful Labor Day weekend. Last week, I asked you how you’re able to reframe social media usage to your advantage. Let me tell you, I think we could all learn a thing or two!
Us Twenty-Somethings are the first generation to grow up so immersed in the worldwide web. And us screenagers get a bad rap! With Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, and more… It can feel like the internet raised us—partially, because it did. No matter how we feel about social media, I think it’s a good time to set boundaries now as we create our foundation for the future. You know how much I love building healthy habits!
As someone who works in social media full-time, and also has accounts of my own on nearly every major platform, it can be hard, and even counterproductive, to break free from the screen. Earlier this year, I discussed my tips for limiting your screen time (like turning notifications off and using airplane mode and do not disturb religiously, check it out!), but let’s talk specifically about social media. Because for many of us, it isn’t possible to completely disconnect (though I’d recommend doing it for a week at a time if you can—incredibly freeing). Alternatively, I believe there are ways we can use the matrix to our advantage. As zennials, it’s time we reclaim the scroll.
The following are primarily for Instagram—which which I have a love-hate relationship—but they work for most socials. Here’s what’s helped me to better my relationship with social media:
Screen Time: On Instagram, you can enable notifications within the app’s “Activity” tab that send you a daily reminder once you’ve reached your own personal limit of time on the app (one hour, two hours, etc.). For my own sanity, I don’t get any notifications on my phone aside from texts and calls, and I know that through the pandemic, lots of folks have turned off their Screen Time notifications from Apple, but when it’s in-app, I find it makes it easier to exit out of the app for the day. Though I’m not on TikTok (should I be?), I know they have posts that tell you to get off of the app after a certain amount of time. After all, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives!
Accounts I follow: In the past year, I’ve unfollowed anyone that makes me feel ~icky~ and have replaced those accounts with artists and musicians I love (it’s great being the first to hear new releases, or to know exactly when tour tickets are going on sale), my favorite brands, meme accounts, health and wellness accounts, at-home cooks, and people whose style or creativity inspire me (read: tattoo accounts, photographers, graphic designers, DIY makeup artists, fashionistas, etc.). Last week, I mentioned bookstagrams, which is another one of my favorite nooks of Instagram—essentially, avid readers share book reviews and recommend (or warn you to avoid) what they’re reading. Of course, I follow lots of cute critter accounts, too! Honestly, following anyone you feel will bring joy to your feed is a great rule of thumb. And if you mostly follow celebs and influencers, I urge you to ask yourself how their posts make you feel. You’re only seeing the highlight reels, baby! And comparison is the thief of joy. I’m not going to quote all the studies about how bad it can be for your mental health, but I promise, not knowing which Kardashian-Jenner is expecting or divorcing or running for governor is truly a relief (plus, you get all that info elsewhere anyways😉). But please, don’t let me yuck anyone’s yum!
Curating your feed: Maybe you feel obligated to follow certain people from college or high school in case your paths cross, or maybe you just like to know what they’re up to (or what their baby or wedding dress looks like). And that’s OK! I’ve learned to mute the posts, stories and tweets of those who post photos of their lavish vacations (or lifestyles) if I’m feeling green with envy. Honestly, anyone who annoys me in any way gets the Mute pretty quick. No point in feeling bad for no reason! Additionally, I don’t think you should ever feel bad for unfollowing anyone in this day and age. It isn’t personal and it just isn’t that big of a deal. What someone else thinks of me is none of my business!
And, of course, here’s what you all shared with me about curating and forming a more positive relationship with social media:
My therapist recently advised me to try a week-long "Facebook cleanse" (which I think was her Gen X way of telling me to stay off of social media). She cited a recent study that linked social media consumption to clinical depression. I have yet to try the cleanse. I'm not sure if that's because I'm truly addicted, or if I just enjoy the content I see online too much. I can see how a break might be good for me; I work two jobs (one as a social media manager), spend more than a third of my day tied to screens, and have a habit of comparing my life to those on my feed. It's pretty easy to list the countless negative effects of social media, but I can't look past the ways social media has helped me. Most notably, I've suffered from disordered and restrictive eating patterns for years; I couldn't admit it to myself for a while. I think the TikTok algorithm helped me discover my problem in the first place. And then, social media introduced me to the concept of intuitive eating. It has changed my attitude toward health and helped me heal my relationship with food. I still struggle from time to time, especially with conflicting nutrition advice online. But I've learned to carefully curate my feed, only following nutrition accounts that A.) actively dismantle diet culture, and B.) are registered dietitians. I watch their stories daily, and they serve as nice reminders to check in with my mental and physical health. This only scratches the surface; it fails to mention the creative inspiration and personal finance tips (hello, clevergirlfinance!) that I've picked up on social media. I'm starting to learn that curation is everything. I try to follow accounts that teach me, motivate me, or inspire me. Maybe a little cleanse would be nice. But maybe I'll just unfollow accounts that don't serve me.
I grew up abroad and don’t get to go back to visit as often as I’d like, so social media keeps me in touch with all my friends from there (especially because of time zones) as well the city itself and being able to see how it’s growing and changing.
The only really good thing about social media is finding out world events that the main news sites don’t cover, and being able to voice my own opinion. Also, crowdfunding is good.
Following lots of animal accounts—mainly capybaras and raccoons!
When creating my new fitness Instagram, I made sure it was going to be used differently. I was going to completely get off social media because it just seemed like a negative environment, but the fitness page was a game changer. I started following the influencers I was familiar with and I was only focusing on exercise, nutrition, and mental health posts (of course a ton of tattoo and nail design content too), so the algorithm was now the way I wanted it to be and boy, do I utilize Instagram! I ended up buying a six-week workout program that not only kicked my ass, but taught me so much in the gym! Also all of this has completely changed the way I feel when posting things. I guess you could say I feel more comfortable, if that makes sense.
I follow tons of accounts that post positive affirmations, mental health tips and uplifting quotes. By following these accounts, not only do I get to pause for some positivity as I scroll, but I’ve also learned a lot. I also have all of my notifications turned off, and have for years, so when I post something, I’m not constantly thinking about it. Oftentimes, I post something and completely forget. I find this has helped me not really care about the “engagement” I get on my own posts, but to reframe posting as more for me and what I want to share and less about impressing other people.
I believe social media is beneficial because it keeps us in touch with current events while making the content more digestible, but I feel it can almost form our opinions on these topics; sometimes we feel obligated to respond the way others do. Also, social media algorithms are formulated to make you see more people like you, more beliefs that are aligned with yours, etc., because companies want you to be satisfied in order to extend the time you spend on their sites. With that in mind, the BEST thing I ever did was 1. Unfollow accounts that made me feel anything other than humor/joy, 2. Unfollow anyone that doesn’t follow me back (lol) and 3. Click “not interested” in my explore pages, and be brutally honest about what I was “not interested” in. I had to get over my FOMO and realize my mental state and self confidence are more important than knowing what some random “influencer” is flaunting on their Instagram, knowing that in two days I probably wouldn’t even remember it anyway, so why suffer through looking at it at all? I will say, platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and Reddit are probably much healthier than platforms like Instagram and Facebook. I think this is due to the random user algorithms they incorporate (i.e. you do see relevant posts, but they aren’t always people you follow, hence less feelings of “competition” or feeling like you are worth less because you aren’t posting the same engaging stuff people you follow are). All in all, I would say social media is a useful tool both politically and socially, as long as you take everything with a (large) grain of salt.
From keeping up with old pals to monitoring the hottest trends to tracking boyfriend reveals (my personal favorite)—wherever your interests lie, there’s a pocket of social media for you. What a time to be alive!
My parents aren’t on social media (for which I’m grateful), but they’ll ask me from time to time to look up their old pals on Facebook to see what they’re up to—people they haven’t spoken to in 40+ years! If your parents aren’t on social media, look up their high school friends for them and thank me later. Is it not exciting to think we’ll be able to grow with others from afar via the socials? All in all, it ain’t all bad!
By the way, I’m still listening to this playlist, in case you were curious. With that, here are a few picks to get you through the week:
Netflix’s Misha and the Wolves - This woman’s incredible story of escaping the Holocaust and being raised in the woods by wolves is utterly captivating—until she’s fact-checked! Love a good plot twist.
HBO Max’s White Lotus - We’re living in the age of high-value short series, and this one examines class and privilege via satire. If you haven’t watched, please do!
Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers - I’m not caught up, so no spoilers! But imagine Nicole Kidman is a spiritual health guru who runs an eery, drug-induced wellness retreat. What’s not to love?!
Sam Youkilis - In the spirit of this week’s theme, Sam Youkilis’ Instagram is one of my faves. He travels the world and shares his experiences in bits and pieces that are mesmerizing, to say the least!
Adrienne Reau - One of my fashion idols! I love nothing more than Depop and ‘90s fashion—she iconically celebrates them both! Enjoy.
But with Michael Cera - We could all use a good laugh. This one never fails to crack me up.
“September” by Grace Paley
Then the flowers became very wild
because it was early September
and they had nothing to lose
they tossed their colors every
which way over the garden wall
splattering the lawn shoving their
wild orange red rain-disheveled faces
into my window without shame
Affirmation of the week: It’s a beautiful day to let go of what doesn’t serve me.
Question of the week: What in life motivates you to work hard?
Thank you all for taking your time to read this week’s newsletter! I’m always looking to improve my work, so leave a comment, send me a message, or fill out this form to tell me about what you want to read about in upcoming Dear Twenty-Somethings! I’m all ears. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads or online if you feel so inclined. And check out last week’s newsletter here in case you missed them.
If you liked what you read, send this newsletter to a friend! Heck, send it to 10 friends! Sending love and light to you, wherever you are. 🌟
Cheers & happy Wednesday! Stay well.
xoxoxo, Quinnie <3