How I developed a healthier relationship with social media

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Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess

I have professed countless of times that social media has gotten the best of me, whether it’s body image issues, vanity issues, or lifestyle issues. There was always this pressure to keep up with everyone who I followed so closely on social media, it was taking a toll on my life and my life choices. Also, countless of times, I have forgotten that social media is mostly curated—highlighting the ups but rarely the downs. And last year, it really hit me when I realized social media became a huge trigger to my insecurity. It also made me develop an unhealthy relationship with my husband because I felt so insecure with his social media activity that I even blocked him at one point.

READ MORE: How social media affects me as a 20-something

I pitted my lows with everyone’s highs, comparing myself with other people, becoming slightly obsessive with “curated content,” and resenting the algorithm for wiping out spam accounts, thus lowering my Instagram following (I don’t even have a lot!). I never thought I would be affected by social media to this degree, probably because I relied on it so much to fill in the void whenever I felt lonely, sad, or bored.

Fast forward to January of this year, when I went a bit cold turkey on social media, rarely posting and only managing my work accounts. I even limited my Instagram screen time to 15 minutes a day. Instead of weaning myself off, I found that I became frustrated with all these limitations and “barriers to the outside world.” I felt so irrelevant and not in the know. As much as I enjoyed life offline, I realized that I rely on social media for inspiration and community, and to cut myself completely out of it was like denying a part of myself that craved a human necessity, a sense of belonging.

It took me a while to realize this. All I needed was a healthier view and balance when it came to social media. It’s a double-edged sword, really, and all I needed was to find a way to use it to my benefit instead of it becoming a detriment. Here’s how I positivized my relationship with social media.

1. Filtering accounts

One thing I did was to do a social media spring clean. This meant unfollowing or unfriending people who drained me. People affect other people’s energies in different ways, and it really isn’t their fault. It’s a matter of perception, and you are not obligated to follow anyone or any account that does not create a positive impact on your life.

READ MORE: It might be time for some social media spring cleaning

2. Turning social media into a platform for positive energy

I used to be so hesitant about posting something on Instagram. There was this always this little voice in my head that went, “What if no one paid attention?” or “What if people just ignored you?” I did a little experiment on Instagram the other day and told everyone about this gross rash that I had on different parts of my body brought by sweat and the boiling heat here in Singapore. I thought I’d get called out for being too insensitive and TMI; but I was wrong. A lot people in my social media community gave me tips instead on how to treat the rash, and without their help, my rash would still be in its aggravated state.

3. Keeping it real online and offline

Instagram means a lot of things to a lot of people. Some treat it as a visual diary, others lurk around and use it for inspiration, while some use it as a source of livelihood. All reasons are respectable, but what matters is keeping a healthy relationship with social media, in general, without allowing it to ruin you or lower your self-worth.

What I’ve learned about Instagram is that it is my little corner in the social media world, which I can use to ask information from, keep updated with trends (since it’s vital to my work and my lifestyle curiosities), and for inspiration. Curation is part of the process, but it doesn’t hurt to keep it real, too. One of my favorite people on Instagram is Eva Chen who is director of fashion partnerships in Instagram. Despite a life filled with trips to fashion week and designer goods, she keeps it real by letting her followers into her personal life. I am grateful for people like her who really keep it honest.

Opening your private life up to the world may not be the most comfortable thing for everyone, but it’s nice to know that despite the millions of followers some of these social media celebrities have, they are, at their core, still human, and I think that’s something to be celebrated.

It’s funny how big the impact of social media can be, but as with all things, balance is key. Responsible social media shouldn’t only be exercised by the uploader but also (and even more so) by the consumer.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.

 

Art by Marian Hukom

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