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I feel drowned by social media, especially when I re-download Instagram. Posts and accounts have the chance to be inspiring but also so incredibly toxic. At times, I do feel like I’m missing important things and re-download out of a feeling of obligation. Are there any suggestions for a balance? I do not believe our lives are supposed to focus around social media, but I feel alone in that. Thanks!

You are so, so, so unbelievably not alone in this feeling (did I hit it home hard enough?). Trust me when I say that I am right there with you—our lives are not meant to revolve around social media, although it increasingly feels as if they do. If it feels bad to you, that’s because it is. Permission granted for you to step away from what’s no longer serving you!

I firmly believe that ‘successful’ social media use and consumption looks like having boundaries.

Speaking from experience as a social media manager and someone who recently watched “The Social Dilemma,” you’re meant to be hooked. We’re conditioned to believe that we need to share everything online, when in reality, it’s simply not true. I firmly believe that “successful” social media use and consumption looks like having boundaries.

For me, that’s the gentle nudge of a partner that says, “Aren’t you tired of being on your phone all day?” Sometimes, he even goes as far as unplugging my phone in the morning and moving it to another room before I can pick it up with one eye closed. It’s not annoying, even if it sounds that way. (Okay, some days it is annoying).

Use the app’s time limit feature or delete the app for two or three days a week.

Other ways to set boundaries could be to use the app’s time limit feature to get a notification when you’ve spent X amount of time on it, or even deleting the app for two or three days a week. A few members of our team do it, as do some of my personal friends, and they all highly recommend it. 

I have one question about your question: what important things do you feel like you are, or would be, missing out on? Because I’m going to let you in on a little secret…you won’t be missing anything. The people you care about—the people you know IRL—will check in with you, and vice versa. If you’re friends, you’ll hear about big news (engagements, job changes, break-ups, etc.) from them directly, and you won’t need to turn to social for the updates. 

If other important things include updates on people you don’t actually know, I think you’ll find that the longer you stay away from them, the less you care. Social media is where people go to flaunt the goods, which is why it’s so toxic. The people that we’ve labeled “aspirational” are making you feel not-great about all the parts of your life, good and bad, because you’re only seeing their positives. UN-FOL-LOW. You don’t need that kind of comparison in your life! Nobody does.

The people you care about will check in with you. And the people you don’t know, the longer you stay away from them, the less you care.

But when I inevitably find myself deep in the hole of caring way too much if XYZ influencer is still with their partner 👀, here’s what I do:

  1. I remind myself that I do not know them and probably will never know them.

  2. I note that their success and life-path does not determine my own.

  3. Then, I look for that blissful feeling I have when I’m out camping with no cell service, or doing an intense activity like hiking and don’t even think to check my phone. That is my happy place.

If you go to social media for cultural updates, news consumption, and a general temp check on how the world is doing (hint: not great), look for simpler ways to get that information. Subscribe to informative daily emails, listen to news podcasts, or sign up to receive your local paper. 

Subscribe to informative daily emails, listen to news podcasts, or sign up to receive your local paper.

And finally, if you just can’t quit Instagram (it’s designed to be hard to quit), I’d love to suggest some accounts that are light-hearted and totally not toxic for you to follow. They are the few that remind me why I keep coming back to these darn apps (that and my job, of course):

  • If you’re into great graphic design and motivational words by timeless individuals like Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle, follow Subliming.jpg.

  • If your vibe is more pastoral, raising baby animals and looking cute while doing it, follow Mother the Mountain.

  • If you’re into design of the interior variety—as long as it won’t make you feel bad that maybe your own home doesn’t look like that (yet)—I suggest following Architectural Digest.

If you’re like “Alyssa, please, none of these things interest me, come on,” then I will remind you that I can simply lead you to water, I cannot force you to drink. Find what you like! Take the pressure off! And if it feels good to you, delete.

If it feels good to you, delete.

There’s so much more to life, and to ourselves, then what we can show in 1:1 squares online. Do you, booboo!

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Alyssa Julian is the Social Media Lead at The Good Trade. She’s LA born and raised, and when she’s not scrolling her phone for the latest trends, she can be found at the farmers’ market, camping out of the back of her Subaru, or searching for adoptable dogs on Petfinder. If she’s not off-grid for the weekend, try looking for her at her home studio, where she’s probably making cups for a new coffee shop. Say hi on Instagram! 👋