I’m a Gen X’er, so not born digital. I straddle the divide between when radio DJs were celebrities, supermodels didn’t get out of bed for less than $10 000, and when print media—once the keeper of the culture—all but died .
So, here we are in 2020 and digital has exploded and if you’re not online in some shape or form, do you even exist?
Since the early 00s, I’ve created and destroyed countless social media accounts. I’m not a natural broadcaster or exhibitionist, I’m in fact an introvert so I was never going to be an influencer. However, the main reason for removing myself from social media so many times over the last 15 years has been that it can be a deeply negative place. It can be exhausting and is linked to a host of mental health challenges like anxiety, low self-esteem, insomnia and even suicide. And now with Netflix’ The Social Dilemma exposing the unethical, mind-controlling design behind some of the most beloved platforms, there’s even more to dislike here.
So, what’s left to love about social media?
At the point where magazine work dried up and social media for business became a necessity, I knew I could no longer stay out of the fray. My social media accounts were mainly there, so I can support my clients with their social media strategy and overall brand communications strategy. But I thought, if I was going to be spending so much time here, I might as well have a little fun. So, I went in search of the good guys and unfollowed all the accounts that made me feel terrible about myself and the world–you know those #weareawesome accounts that have you convinced that even your cat hates you.
All of those accounts that share graphic and sensitive images and content in the name of a cause with no consideration as to who will see their content or how they will be triggered or hurt; all of those toxic positivity accounts with their filters, exotic locations and empty words and the worst of the worst those accounts that foist their opinions, politics, religion and hatred on you.
I went in search of the creators, the healers, the lovers and the learners and the people – plain ol’ people, just the way I remember them (before COVID-19 altered the way we connect forever) – complex, love-filled, generous, real, happy, sad, doing-all-the-things kind of people and what I found was (hand on heart) life-changing.
Turns out the secret to enjoying social media more without doing your head in, is your ability to choose what’s right and good for you.
Social media accounts that made me realise I was in good company
The Holistic Psychologist
Good mental health care should be free or at the very least affordable for the masses. We’re all wounded in some way or other, walking around projecting our wounding onto others and repeating these negative cycles – generation after generation. Dr. Nicole LePera’s account is the closest thing you’ll get to excellent and free mental health care. She is one of the best discoveries I made on social media. She is the real deal.
Chris Do & The Futur
As a creative and someone trying to make it in the creative industry, no one can hold a candle to this guy and what he has given to the world. He teaches knowing your value above all else. He has been an invaluable source of business knowledge and inspiration. If you’re in a creative business – he is a must.
Words of Women
A celebration of brilliant women throughout the ages expertly curated by Lauren Martin. It’s a constant source of gentle inspiration and a soft reminder of your power as a woman in an all too loud world.
Humans of New York
What started out in New York city has since branched out to the world and even briefly touched our shores here in South Africa. With true grace and love, Brandon Stanton brings us everyday stories from everyday people across the world. HONY is to me today what Colors Magazine was in the 00s – full of the richness, humour, beauty, sadness and messiness of life – just as it is. I’m tearing up, just thinking about the contribution this account has made to my life.
Everyone’s favourite vegan aunty. She’s a huge source of inspiration to me on my journey to enjoying a more plant-based diet, and she’s also one helluva human being.
I love Bri Emery’s joyful style, and I admire how open she has been about her mental health struggles and recovery from childhood trauma. Everyone is struggling with something, so we should be kind always. She reminds me of that every day.
So, how do you have a healthier and happier relationship with social media?
While these are all fantastic personal accounts these are also professional accounts. Dr. LePera, Lauren and Brandon have all just released books. Tabitha is an actress and a TikTok sensation, and Bri is a creative director and product designer. These accounts enjoy millions of followers, and there’s a reason for that. They show up as their true selves and give generously of themselves to others and understand that on the other side of the screen is a human being—vulnerable, maybe doubting themselves, maybe feeling alone, maybe hungry for connection.
Now, I’m not saying we all need to show up in this bare-it-all kind of way. For some like myself, it’ll always be a struggle. I doubt I’ll ever feel comfortably about IGTV, Reels or TikTok or whatever the next big thing around the corner will be – but there are still ways to bring your heart to how you show up on social media. All accounts – personal and professional – should be human first and focus on making real connections with their followers.
A few more tips on how to enjoy social media more.
- Instagram’s mute option has been a lifesaver. Sometimes, even these beloved accounts get too much. And when I find that I’m not actively engaging, I mute and come back to them again.
- Some weekends, if I’m not working, I delete all the social media apps on my phone. It’s helps me get out of work mode quickly when I’m especially worked up from the week before and be more present with my friends and family.
- I regularly unfollow people and accounts I’m not actively engaging with and go in search of more good guys.
- I’m more intentional about the content I consume. I follow what inspires, teaches, makes me laugh and makes me think.
- I share more of what I love and less of what I hate.
- Engage more actively with the accounts you enjoy. People are more alike than they are different. You could be nicely surprised.
If you made it all the way down here, thank you for reading and I hope you’ll connect with me more on this journey.