You've probably heard it by now: Using social media can be bad for our health, as platforms like Instagram encourage comparison, jealousy and feelings of inadequacy.
For this very reason, I've started a self-experiment a few years ago, in which I've since unfollowed people that made me feel bad about myself through their posts on the regular.
Here's what I noticed:
1. My attitude towards life is more positive
Sounds a little corny, but it’s totally true. I spend a lot of time on the Internet, and since I've been making an effort to fill my feeds with neutral to positive content, that's exactly how I feel when I log off: neutral to positive. A definite improvement over feeling like I was lacking *something* all the time!
2. I spend less money
This is a direct effect of unfollowing social media influencers. No one is trying to sell me anything, and I hardly see posts that are embellished with free clothes, make-up or other so-called "must haves". As a result, I often miss the newest this or that, which means my money stays in my bank account, where it belongs. ;)
3. I learned to see beauty in body diversity
Unfollowing fake, famous and rich people also meant there was room in my feed for people diversity and body positive content. Filling my timeline with people of all shapes, colours, genders and sizes certainly taught me how to recognize and appreciate beauty outside of the skinny white norm. In fact, when I look at white standard model-type people these days, I'm kind of bored. Grow a belly, become interesting looking, find meaning in your work!
4. The content I see is purposeful
If I see your posts these days, chances are you are either my friend, my colleague, someone I admire for their work (and this includes a couple of Insta astrologers, haha) or an intersectional feminist with political ambition that teaches me new perspectives and knowledge every damn day. Almost everything I come across on my feed at the moment makes for an interesting conversation with my friends.
5. I found my tribe
Between eating disorder therapists, non-diet dietitians, fat activists, the sober community and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I found my happy place on Insta. That makes me feel less alone, better understood, supported and like I'm part of a greater cause. So uplifting!
6. I second-guess my own content less
"Am I too this, too little that, do I offer enough of whatever, or should I do this instead?" These are questions I asked myself the past. Due to points one through five, I have been able to recognize that what people I like are actually interested in isn’t the stuff I own, but my authentic self; and this authentic self produces articles like this one for people like you. That’s a win-win, I hope, and thank you for reading. :)
7. Less noise means better focus
I'm sure it's an algorithm thing, too, but my experience has been that unfollowing helped me see what people I actually hang out with post; the people in my city that I have coffee with or meet for toddler play dates. Keeping up with what they're doing was, I guess, the original purpose of social networks, and it's been nice to re-engage with family snap shots and restaurant recommendations.
8. I'm less susceptible to advertising in general
Enhancing my understanding of beauty and disengaging from artificially constructed happiness increased my sensitivity to marketing messages of all sorts, and I don't appreciate them anymore. I'm no longer interested in what people are trying to sell, but instead in what people are trying to say. Makes a world of a difference!
Hope this little overview of the benefits I've come to experience after unfollowing people on Instagram has been helpful? What have you noticed since you started paying more attention to people who make you feel good?
If you're looking to populate your feed with new content, find me @substanceusecounselling.