I joined social media or (Facebook) in 2005, my freshman year of college. Back then it was pure fun. People were writing “25 things you may not know about me” notes, and randomly meeting their college boyfriends (maybe that was just me) on the platform. Then I hopped on Twitter because, again, fun. We just talked shit and shared hilarious statuses about nothing. Then came Instagram: the photo-sharing, super spontaneous driven platform that was all about “what you did, drank and wore” last night. No one cared much about likes and most of us weren’t stuntin’ for the Gram. But if you wanted to boost your like count then it was pretty easy to find a reliable instagram automation service.
That little joyous ride lasted for about 7 or 8 years for me. You shared, you retweeted and you went along with your day. It was actually an afterthought for most of us because we weren’t socially conditioned to share everything. This was a new thing to do. We, Millennials, were the last ones to go outside and play, I think.
God bless Gen-Y.
Basically, social media was fun. But then, something started to happen. Social media became really calculated and stuffy, and I started to feel really overwhelmed. I don’t know what it was, but scrolling became a feeling of addiction and rollercoaster ride of comparison. Of course, this was a build up over the last few years. With brands becoming the focal point of social media platforms, not the users, we started to see less authenticity and more advertisements.
I get it and understand it all. I work in beauty on the marketing side now. Social platforms needed to make money. That’s why they began to appease brands with their leverage. In addition, everyday people like you and me who were bloggers or who wanted to use the Internet to make monies felt the need to step our game up. That part of social media is fascinating and still amazing in my eyes. Like, entrepreneurs are built every day on Instagram. That’s so wild.
However, eventually, I started to feel like it was all too much.
Yet, brands taking over social media weren’t the reason I started feeling what would be my first battle with anxiety.
Sure, I’d been depressed before. Show me someone who wasn’t depressed at some point in college or in their 20s. We don’t know anything about ourselves and we’re broke and just lost. I also lost my dad in 2013, so you can count that part in, too. I saw a therapist and he gave me some techniques to help me and suggested I got a Leesa mattress because I was having trouble sleeping. Eventually, I got over that round of depression.
But this feeling, anxiety, was something new and I couldn’t pinpoint what was triggering it. It’s like it crept up on me this past summer and I was feeling like that Spongebob meme.
I had a moment this past November (or maybe December) when I knew something was off. I literally stayed up until 1AM scrolling, eyes dry without the willpower to turn my phone off or cease the insecurity boiling up inside of me as I scrolled. I felt really, really shitty afterward.
I was looking at any and everyone, comparing my career accomplishments, my body, my makeup from my last selfie and everything else to everyone else.
But I didn’t realize it was anxiety at first and I for sure didn’t assume this “feeling” was from social media, solely.
The process to realizing my anxiety and that it was coming from social media was randomly simple. I literally sat down one night and was like “what the hell am I doing every day that’s making me feel so jittery and unfocused and insecure”?
It wasn’t my friends, or work or my dating life. Those areas of my life weren’t perfect (and never will be), but it wasn’t them. Honestly, I just put two and two together and thought about the moments when I felt the most overwhelmed, and it turned out to be whenever I was on my phone.
Scrolling, texting, emailing, whatever. My phone was driving me nuts. And social media was the leading culprit. Technology is great but it’s so overwhelming that now there are apps that are supposed to help us “put our phones down”. Dafuq?
After my self-diagnoses, I texted my homie Chris about my revelation because that’s what best friends do. This is how the convo went:
Me: Shawty, I think I have anxiety and I think it’s from social media.
Chris: Bruh, I was JUST talking to Krista (his girlfriend) about this.
Me: *crooked emoji face*
There you have it. I wasn’t crazy.
Like many other people, I am trying to build my own personal brand and seek opportunities via social media. But the obsession with likes, followers, what this person accomplished, where that person was featured, etc, was just too much. I understood that I do need these platforms and like them as well. But it was time for a break.
So I hopped off that bish. January 15th was my last post on Instagram until February 13th, and let me tell you how I didn’t have any anxiety during that period.
None. No exaggeration. I wasn’t all tense and jittery and insecure.
I even found myself texting less often, too (except my bestfriend/babymama/wifeforlife/rideordie Juju. We must talk every day or my life is incomplete). We are Gayle and Oprah.
But in all seriousness, I was just happier. Which led me to believe that while social media is this amazing, unforeseen tool that has become the entryway to everyday people being able to make extraordinary moves in life, it still needed a cap. There needs to be some balance. Fortunately I found some rules that could help me. In addition to that, my friends told me to outsource some of my social media work – companies like upleap have been helping them manage posts and interact with followers which means they aren’t constantly glued to their screens. Apparently it has really helped.
Once back on, I came up with these four rules that have been the hardest rules of my life for me to follow:
No one is really that important, lighten up. It’s great to post your brand, career or just personal accomplishments. Social media is a place to share and engage and inspire. But, getting caught up in the hype is pointless. No one really cares, most of us like pictures without even paying attention out of boredom. Also, building followers is important in business, but creating amazing products and content is what makes “the people” want more.
Now, you really have to curate your Instagram feed carefully. I ended up un-following negative people, annoying brands and gossip sites (although, I do check The Shade Room once a day for giggles).
Whatever I post will be because I really want to, not because I want likes or comments or to be a part of some new beauty trend.
Social media has been shown to be addictive and can lead to depression. This helped me realize that I wasn’t crazy and that what I was feeling, many of us feel, secretly.
Oh and bonus rule: no social media/phones at dinners, while talking to friends, family gatherings, etc. It’s rude and honestly, you miss the moment. But, don’t get it twisted: I will Snap my friends getting their twerk on.
Can y’all relate? Have you experienced anxiety from social media?