• Gillie Snow

Social Media, Anxiety and Marie Kondo Walk into a Bar

Updated: Aug 21, 2019



I once had a friend say to me, “oh is this a 'moment'? I don’t do moments,” and laugh as if it was something she was proud of.


I looked around at a lilac and peach colored sky, a few feet from one of my favorite musicians playing, watching palm trees sway with my feet in the grass and I instantly thought, “how have I been such good friends with this person for this long?” I couldn’t believe someone was so quick to dismiss life. It made my stomach turn to think that I had been so wrong about someone I was so close to for so many years. I knew in that moment that we wouldn’t be friends forever.


I had just said to her I couldn’t believe how grateful I was to be there having that experience. It was a beautiful sight in front of us that I had worked so hard for. I had saved and made payments monthly in order to be there.


I realized on that trip, at age 25, that I needed to pick and choose who I wanted in my life because that directly affected how I felt about myself.

This wasn’t the first time I had felt this way about someone, but it was the first time I was considering acting on it. My eyes had been opened and I could now see how superficial my friend was. That level of materialism and superficial priorities made me look down upon myself if I wasn't able to keep up with them. Slowly our friendship slipped a couple of months later just as I'd thought. I knew that I’d always look back at our friendship with fond memories, but I had decided to let go in order to grow.


 

A few years later, I ended up learning this lesson again. Only this time it was in a different social setting, it was my Instagram feed.


I don't always use Facebook or Twitter and I stopped using Snapchat a long time ago, but I love Instagram. I follow brands, family, friends, coworkers, and even the company I work for. I find new products, inspiration, ideas, and funny quotes and photos. Basically what everyone does on Instagram.


One day I glanced at my phone, cringed and suddenly noticed I had been actively avoiding Instagram and when I thought about it I would start to get anxious. I hated seeing the notifications pop up or even the icon on my phone as I scrolled. I wasn’t sure why I was reacting that way physically and emotionally to something so trivial in my life. I was 30 years old, married, with a full-time job and an active social life... why should I care that much about an app? How did this start to affect me so negatively that I didn’t want to look at the icon on my phone?


Sitting with these thoughts I realized that I didn’t want to see certain people or accounts. I felt as though if I was on Instagram, the possibility of me seeing their posts meant I could fall back into old habits, feel like I was missing out or even left out. Each time I saw one of their posts I was allowing them to take my attention and my time. It was as if I was giving them permission to make me think less of myself.

Next thing I knew, I was feeling inadequate which then lead to negative self talk and a spiral of anxiety would begin.

That spiral would grow and expand as I started comparing myself to others, comparing my life to others, trying to figure out what I could do to be more like them or have what they have. If this went on consistently I ended up in a tornado of feeling worthless.


This wasn’t what the world was saying about my worth. It was me. How had this one app, that was supposed to be a fun way to interact with people I know or enjoy, become so pivotal in deciding my self-worth?

That's when I decided to Marie Kondo my social media.


It took time to figure this all out... and then actually do it. At first unfollowing people, acquaintances, brands, and pages was hard. Sometimes I would feel guilty and sometimes I would feel like if I unfollowed them I would be missing out, but that was why I had to do it. I needed to break the cycle and no longer feel those emotions when I looked at my phone.


 

How you can rebuild your feed to support your self-love journey:

  • Don’t follow anyone who makes you feel like you’re not enough. It doesn't matter if it's someone you've never met or someone you've known since first grade. Your relationship with yourself is more important. It doesn't mean you can't keep in touch with them and ask them how their life is, you just don't necessarily need to see every photo of them lounging by a pool in a tropical destination with a platter of breakfast and a perfect tan.

  • Look for hashtags and accounts to follow your genuine interests. There’s a big difference between liking what someone is putting out into the world whether that’s a photo, a message, a video or a caption and wanting to be them.

  • Start looking for influencers who are genuine and honest rather than making it look like life is perfect 24/7. Maybe they don’t do it in every post or every week, but look for people who admit that life is also hard and not just beautiful.

  • If you struggle with certain aspects of your life or yourself, look for people who embrace those things. The more often you see their positive posts about that insecurity, the more people you’ll see cheering them on & the more you’ll start to accept that part of yourself. Think of it as reconditioning your brain for self-acceptance and positive thinking.

  • If it's someone you've known for a long time or just someone you really don't want to unfollow, try to challenge yourself to think about how that person deserves what they have or how hard they've worked for it. Rather than comparing ourselves, we need to try to support and cheer each other on.


 

I can see it much clearer in hindsight as I sit here with my 11 month old playing and the birds chirping from my front lawn. As a parent, it’s easier to see what’s important in life and align your priorities with that. I still struggle with the social media anxiety spiral, but it’s less often. I no longer end up in a full blown tornado. I follow body positive accounts, inspirational pages, other moms who are transparent about the hard days as well as the incredible ones and brands that believe in eco-friendly and/or cruelty-free products because that’s what I want to see more of in my world, at the tip of my fingers with just the click of a button.


So when you see a new account or page ask yourself, “does this bring me joy?”


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