Should we turn off social media?

...or not? A young person shares her point of view.
Profile picture of Meg (not her real name)

Created by Meg (not her real name)

Published on May 14, 2020
A neon "like" sign on a black background

Once upon a time

Teenage me was introduced to the crazy world of social media via Facebook, which you may now associate with old people and remembering birthdays.

I mainly wanted to speak to my friends after school – but back then, it was all about how many likes you got on your profile picture and the amount of virtual friends you had. NUMBERS!

Around a decade later I guess not much has changed. To some extent, social media is still about numbers – just across different platforms. Now the questions we ask ourselves are: ‘how many likes did my Instagram post get?’ and ‘what’s my following to followers ratio?’

What changed?

As the years went by and I entered my late teens, I got Instagram. I was a little late to the party – but my friends had it and it looked like a really good way of connecting with the new faces I was meeting on nights out and around university.

Initially it was fun – I could show off what an amazing life I was living. Hundreds and hundreds of likes were coming through. My virtual self was at her prime!

But while my pictures were out there for the world to look at, billions of other people’s pictures were out there for me to look at too – and suddenly mine didn’t seem so great any more. Her make-up was flawless; her waist was smaller; her outfit was nicer. There was always going to be someone with longer legs and nicer teeth – always someone with thicker hair and a flatter tummy. Suddenly I was comparing myself to these ‘beautiful’ women and putting myself down for not looking like them.

My relationship with social media and consequently myself started to get toxic. What once started off as a means of talking to my friends after school was making me unhappy and obsessive to the point where I had to give myself a break. I was sick of seeing Instagram’s version of ‘perfect’ and beating myself up for not matching that description – it had gotten unhealthy.

A lil’ break

I decided to get rid of Instagram for a while so I could concentrate on myself again. I wanted those hours back – I wanted my life back!

I had no idea how long it would last, but I knew it wasn’t going to be permanent – only a break while I prioritised things in my life and felt like I was in a better position again. I went ahead and not only deleted the app off my phone, but disabled my account too. The time I had previously wasted on social media, I invested into myself and turned to fitness to pull me out of my dark place.

At first it took a while to get used to – I mean, what was I meant to do when I had a spare moment at work or before I went to bed? I initially felt like I was missing out. I missed seeing what the people I followed were getting up to.

Slowly, my fear of missing out passed, and I was starting to feel like a happier, healthier version of myself. This wasn’t an overnight process – it took a good four months before I was in love with myself again.

Eventually, I was ready to return to social media. I knew that I wasn’t the same person I had been four months ago. This time, seeing perfect smiles and bodies wasn’t going to get me down because I was the best version of myself that I could be – on the outside and more importantly, on the inside. The break genuinely did me good!

If you’re thinking about taking a break from social media, I would totally encourage you to give it a go. But simply avoiding your fav platform probably isn’t enough. In my case, I had to work out what I was struggling with in my life – both offline and online – and work on it. That way, when I decided to come back to Instagram, I knew I’d be OK. Whatever you do, good luck!

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