Social media allows us to connect to our friends, stay in touch with our families, make new connections based on shared interests, and presents a never-ending stream of people who seem to have it all.
It can be hard to nurture a healthy sense of self-acceptance in the face of all the aspirational images social media has to offer. At the same time, cultivating a sense of self-acceptance — accepting yourself just as you are, blemishes and all — offers a healthy way to deal with the pressures of social media. Self-acceptance helps to free you from worry about what others think and makes you more confident in living life on your own terms.
So, how do you maintain or develop self-acceptance amidst the noise of social media?
Take a week away from all social media. If you need to, uninstall the apps from your phone and set a website blocker on your computer so you can’t go to your favorite sites. After a total break, you may decide to step away permanently, or you may gain the perspective to manage your usage on your own terms. Puppy videos? Yes. Unattainable beauty shots that make you feel bad in comparison? No.
Manage Your Notifications
If you have a Pavlovian response to that soft “ping” on your phone that tells you someone has done something, somewhere, on some social network, there’s an easy solution. Turn off your notifications. Most sites allow you to select the notices you receive. So, you can still get notified of direct messages and event invites, but only find out that so-and-so clicked “like” when you choose to check.
If you watched Canadian television in the early 00s, you’ll know the house hippo. This adorable creature, who sneaks out of her lair at night to hunt in your kitchen, was featured in a public service announcement. The PSA wasn’t warning you to keep your bread locked up — it was warning you not to believe everything you see on TV.
Nowdays, we need the same reminder for Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Even though these channels offer the illusion of real, unfiltered life, much of what you see is just advertising for the brands of celebrities, public figures, and, yes, your friends and family.
The next time you feel a wave of envy or self-judgement looking at someone else’s feed, remember that what you see is curated. For every great shot, there’s 100 terrible shots that didn’t get posted. Abs can be faked with lighting and makeup. Fancy cars and private planes can be rented for a photoshoot. A two-week vacation might be just quick costume changes during a short layover.
Finally, remember that you choose who to follow. If someone makes you feel bad, for any reason, click “unfollow”. Instead, seek out friends and influencers who genuinely support and inspire you.