Taylor shares his story about how to create a positive social media experience and how to use it to feel safe and empowered.
It’s the 21st century. So I suspect that at some point today you checked out Instagram or your favorite social media of choice. 66% of the UK use social media. But is your social media experience positive? I love social media, and it definitely has its positive sides – I mean who wouldn’t want to send a picture of a cat from one side of the world to the other in less than a second! But seriously, you can create communities of like-minded people, keep in touch with old friends, see what your favorite stars are up to in their lives, and share urgent information at the touch of a button (literally nothing social media starts without that).
I’ve seen so many great communities on social media including a group promoting better mental health support, a community of LGBTQIA +, and some absolutely great activism groups. They offer a safe space and a supply of simply positive vibrations. If you want to check out some communities, here are my personal favorites on Instagram: @chnge, @impact, @happysmileyblog, @i_weigh, @chicksforclimate, @blklivesmatter, @wetheurban and so many others.
You’re probably wondering why I started this article by asking whether or not you have had a positive social media experience, but what do I mean by that? Let me explain. First, ask yourself the following questions …
• Do you feel safe and empowered on your social media?
• Do your feed-filled people share positive and realistic stories?
• Are the pictures you see a real representation of life?
• Are there far too many celebrity ads and promoted posts?
• Do you feel like your friends are the same type of person in real life as they are on social media?
If you answered no to any of these questions, your social media experience may not be entirely positive and it probably doesn’t give you the empowerment you need. It’s easy to fix, however, so don’t worry. This is what I do …
1) First, ask yourself why you use social media.
Does it connect with friends? Is it a news channel? Whatever the reason, make sure you are aware of your intentions and keep them in mind.
2) Stop checking out social media as soon as you wake up!
This is a big one, but so easy to change. Imagine this … you just woke up after a good night’s sleep and you pick up your phone, update your twitter feed and BANG! Negative news, photos that make you question your confidence, a bombardment of ads. Do you need the first time in the morning? No. This (possibly without realizing it) is likely to affect your mood and how you feel throughout the day. Now, I’m definitely not saying to postpone all of your social media experiences until the evening as this will have the same experience as sleeping at night, but just take a break – maybe an hour after you wake up.
3) Block, Delete, Do Not Follow.
If a profile makes you angry or questions your trust, get rid of it – it’s easy! It’s important to remember that having someone who is your friend in real life doesn’t mean they have to be your friend on social media.
4) Get involved!
If you love something doing a profile or if you feel empowered by a community then get involved and make internet friends with like-minded people. Drop a message or comment on the account to let them know you love their content – they will appreciate the time you have taken and it will give them a boost to keep going.
5) Post what you want (within reason).
Did you feel like a boss in this outfit? POST OFFICE! Did you have a fantastic day with your best friends? POST OFFICE! Do you want to spread a positive message? POST OFFICE! It is your social media profile. So use it the way you want – stop holding back. I never thought of deleting my social media profile or leaving social media entirely because it is so easy to have a positive experience. You can strike a healthy balance between real life and internet life without throwing your phone out the window. After all, deleting my social media profile would only have resulted in FOMO (the fear of missing out) and I guarantee I would have reinstalled it in days (probably minutes). This is how I created a positive social media experience. Now that I’m full of confidence and empowerment from my feed, I definitely won’t be going back.
Hey, I’m Taylor, a teacher from Kent. Mental health is a topic that isn’t part of our daily conversations, but why not? I’m a mental health advocate sharing an equal platform with physical health, and in the 21st century, social media is the place to start, which is why I wrote this article. While we’re talking about social media, here’s a bit of self-promotion: follow me on Twitter @_taylor_gibson_