Photo by Pablo Naranjo, "Maggie at my mom's beautiful Farm", 2016

Assuming that you are one of the 3 billion people on the planet who use social media, let me ask you a very simple question: do you have a good relationship with them? How do you feel after 10, 15, 45 minutes in front of your Instagram or Facebook feed?

Personally, I am 100% in a love & hate relationship. Some weeks, I love it: I chat with my community, I discover inspiring ethical brands, I see the perfect ratio of videos of corgis and little cats. EVERYTHING IS GOING WELL.

Other weeks it's a whole other story. I don't feel up to it, I don't think my feed is coordinated enough, I don't post regularly enough, my style is flat, I don't have enough subscribers, blah, BLA bla. Yes, I have a special relationship with social media because it's part of my job, but I'm sure that feeling of "never being enough" is prevalent far beyond content creators.

The thing is, social media has a LOT of good things about it, really, but to take advantage of it, you first need to have a healthy relationship with it. So I searched the web and drew on my personal experiences to concoct a mini guide for you on the art of cultivating the positive influence of social networks on our lives.

  1. Follow people who inspire you

I often compare social media to a huge high school. The only difference: instead of comparing yourself to a few hundred people, you measure yourself against billions of people who share only their best angle and their greatest achievements. It should come as no surprise to learn that 50% of people feel inadequate after browsing their platforms.

That being said, the strength of social networks lies in the fact that we are free to follow whoever we want. Subscribe to people who share your values, who motivate you, who make you feel good about yourself, who make you laugh, who you say to yourself "social networks would be a much better place if it were filled with people like THAT", etc. Like the saying “vote with your pennies”, I believe that you also vote with the type of people you follow.

If the account of a girl who seems to have the perfect career/boyfriend/body still leaves you with a cloud of negativity above your head, unfollow. But before clicking on the fateful button, I advise you to do a little verification yourself to see if the insecurities caused by this type of account could not tell you a little more about your personal dissatisfactions. To meditate.

Finally, I mention this because I realize that many people don't know: if you can't unfollow someone for some reason (let's say it would create unease around the coffee machine on Monday morning ), you still have the option to mute all future posts. Your relationship therefore remains intact and so does your mental well-being.

  1. Be intentional in your posts and interactions

A few months ago, I realized that social media was a big source of frustration for me: not enough likes, not enough subscribers, not enough engagement, not enough of everything.

Analyzing the situation with a clear head, I realized that I was posting to post. I shared “beautiful photos”, but the substantive content was not always there. And that's what really pissed me off: spending hours creating beautiful images, without a specific message or goal, only to publish them in a vacuum. My demotivation did not come from the lack of attention, but from the lack of mission behind my creation.

Since then, I've made the decision to only post things that are close to my heart: a new local brand to discover, a thought that could reach other women, a really good joke! No, my numbers haven't skyrocketed, but now that my process comes from a desire to share information rather than creating beauty for beauty's sake, it feels like likes and subscribers pass me 20,000 feet per above the head.

What I'm trying to say is that Instagram and Facebook, although they are cyberspaces, are still built on the principle of communities. Use them as such. Express yourself, start conversations, post content that you yourself would like to consume.

That doesn't mean everything has to be super serious or take the form of a claim (you're talking to the biggest fan of watermelon-munching animals), just to use them consciously.

  1. Limit your use

People spend an average of two hours a day on social media. Let's say you're neither a community manager nor a content creator, don't you think that's a lot?

During the day, their main flaw is to be the #1 enemy of productivity. Raise your hand if, faced with an uninteresting task, you take a short break to watch “rapido” what is happening on social networks. Thirty minutes later, you learned that Philippe and Naomie are engaged, that Stéphanie has found a new job and that Cynthia is pregnant… Wait a second, who is Cynthia again?

When evening comes, the vortex of cyber voyeurism continues and causes another collateral damage: our poor sleep. Beyond the string of stories that keep us glued to our screen much longer than necessary, the blue light from our cellphone prevents the secretion of melatonin, the hormone responsible for putting us in “sleep” mode. What's more, if you're the type not to be super positive after a visit to social media, maybe watching them right before you fall into Morpheus' arms isn't the best idea in the world? Anxiety, insomnia, bad dreams: a good night's sleep as we like them!

So what's the solution? Let's say there is no miracle cure, but certain habits can definitely help. Keep your cell phone out of sight when you need to focus. After all, out of sight, out of mind! In the evening, put your electronic devices aside for at least an hour before slipping under the sheets and reconnecting with the good old book. If your discipline is rather lacking, download programs to limit your use or remove social media apps from your cell phone altogether. To great ills, great remedies!

Joëlle Paquette for MARIGOLD

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.