When’s the last time you got off scrolling social on your phone -be it Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, any platform - and actually felt better about yourself and the world?
As a child of the pre-internet days, I was taught to honor my body with healthy food, ample movement, and plenty of sleep - and that was pretty much all I needed to worry about to stay ship-shape.
No one taught me how to consume social media, because it didn’t exist yet.
Now, the more that I watch social media progress the more terrified I become for the state of our collective mental health.
Take TikTok, for example. Their algorithm is the stuff of legends, but get on the wrong side of that algorithm and you are plunged into a world of sensationalism, where everyone is angry about everything all the time and comment sections are divisive war zones.
Don’t even get me started on the dumpster fire that is Twitter, either.
And it doesn’t keep us more aware, either; it’s junk food. And what’s worse is that it’s junk food we don’t even LIKE. Scrolling through hours of content on the same terrible topic is like…eating cold French fries. We’re trying to get some semblance of satisfaction out of a familiar vessel that we know and love - trying to get that next dopamine hit - even though it’s gone stale and, well, bad.
And yet - because we’re hungry for something, anything - we keep going.
And it’s bad for our health. It increases our stress, makes us cynical, and gives the feeling that maybe nothing is ever going to get better. What we fail to understand is that we fall into echo chambers. We get a taste of a hive mind. And yes, there are certain unhappy and downright horrible topics that many of us agree on - and it’s important to rally on those and fight for positive change.
But your every day social consumption is different, and it’s high time we start talking about our “internet hygiene”.
1. Stop. Scrolling.
Seriously !Social media feeds are specifically designed to keep us on the hook. I get it. You’ll scroll through just one more video or article or photo and then you’ll be done. Then another. Aaaand another. Pretty soon you’re treating social media like a slot machine on a Saturday night, waiting for just the right hit. Recognize when you’re starting to feel this urge and take a break. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, that’s enough to start resetting your brain -maybe even enough to get you focused on another task.
2. Leave Your Phone Alone in the AM
This one is an ADHD hack: DON’T TOUCH YOUR PHONE WHEN YOU WAKE UP. Aggressive? Maybe. But how many of us are used to waking up to the alarm on our phone and immediately diving into the day? What do you think that does to your brain, going from 0-60 like that? (Hint: it’s not good). Give yourself at least 30minutes sans screen when you wake up to center yourself and prevent dopamine burnout - you’ll be shocked at the difference it makes.
3. Curate Your Feed
Don’t forget: YOU control what YOU see. Is that old high school friend still spewing the same toxic nonsense? Does that influencer make you feel like your life isn’t “enough” yet? Stop following them. Comparison is the thief of joy, and most social media is curated to show highlight reels only. Surround yourself with an authentic online community that shares your values (or challenges them in healthy ways) and watch your mood lift.
Samantha DeVries, Social & Content Manager, Huumanize