#MINDFLUENCING – It’s time to hit unfollow on anxiety

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The blog post "It's time to hit unfollow on anxiety"  is a part of my #MINDFLUENCING campaign I created in collaboration with Instagram in January 2019. It's an attempt to inspire us to be more mindful both as creators and as followers on social media.

When I first joined Instagram I wanted to follow anyone cool or famous. I remember going through a popular actor’s follow list and basically just hit follow on anyone she did. 

It felt like I was given a cheeky little sneaky peek into their lives and I loved it.

At first, Instagram was made up of slightly blurry photos with a crappy “arty” filter on top. 80% of what we posted on our feeds was selfies and the rest was food. I would get to the end of my feed and try to keep scrolling just in case there was anything I had missed. (when was the last time you got to the end of your feed?)

It was very organic and honest. Litte snaps from someone else’s life that made you feel like you got to walk in their shoes for a moment.

So it wasn’t strange that celebrities and “cool” people were those with most followers. If you are going to have a tiny square window into someones every-day, why not make it a glamorous one?

It was all for a bit of fun. …and then Instagram evolved and changed.

The “cool” people became “influencers” and instead of showing what their lives were like behind-the-scenes. They started selling a lifestyle and getting paid for it. All of a sudden the blurry “real” photos became staged settings. The focus disappeared from food and in-the-moment-selfies to lavish lifestyles, on-trend fashion, luxury travel, and trim bodies.

Whoever had the most glamorous life got the most eyeballs and because of this, they made the most money. A monster was born.

Because of this switch, we went from “I know what Lady GaGa had for breakfast today”, to “If I don’t go on flashy holidays in designer outfits I have failed at life.”

Entertainment became competition.

The blog post "It's time to hit unfollow on anxiety"  is a part of my #MINDFLUENCING campaign I created in collaboration with Instagram in January 2019. It's an attempt to inspire us to be more mindful both as creators and as followers on social media.

Queue social media anxiety.

Anytime you feel like you are in direct comparison to someone else and you are not winning, it’s going to make you sad. At times it can inspire you to want to do better. But when you are comparing 100% of your life to someone else’s best 5% it becomes an impossible task to come out on top.

This is when social media went from making the world a smaller place where we all felt a part of a community. To alienating and isolating us as separated entities fighting for attention.

If we discount any biases that could be programmed into the platforms. Social media is from the beginning a pretty neutral place. It is what we make of it. What we feed will grow and what we give attention to will win.

It got pretty bad for a while. We fed all the wrong things and the negative culture of bragging, upmanship, and unhealthy ideals got close to destroying platforms like Instagram. People started coming off it since it didn’t make them feel good anymore.

I personally see it as if we blamed the canvas for the bad painting instead of the artist.

It is, in the end, our own fault that this happened. We created and fed the monster with our follows, likes and comments. We engaged in the wrong things.

I’m not judging anyone because I did the same. I gave in to the competition as an influencer and I followed accounts that made me feel crap. My anxiety levels were always high when I was on Instagram, mainly because I never felt enough. Everyone else was a lot cooler, lived these amazing lives and made all this money.

I felt stuck, boring and left behind.

It took me a long time to figure out that I had done it to myself. I was having anxiety because of who I was choosing to follow. And when I realized it’s always OUR OWN CHOICE what we make of social media. It changed my life.

I decided that I had enough and begun to unfollow at massive speed. As soon as a photo popped up that made me feel in any way anxious, I disengaged.

I hit unfollow on anxiety.

I let hundreds of accounts back out into the universe never to see them again. (Most of them were big mainstream influencers.) Instead, I went out searching for those a bit more similar to me. I found other influencers focusing on feel-good and mindfulness, that instead of making me feel depressed, made me come alive with their posts.

I followed niched tiny accounts with interests I shared and I even got really into some pretty funny meme-accounts that would make me smile for a second. I basically gave my Instagram feed a makeunder. Gone was the perfect photos with no depth and instead I was met by actual interesting and thoughtful things when I logged in.

These days if an account doesn’t entertain, educate or inspire me. It’s not for me.

I’m done with cute photos of skinny 20 something girls with short half-witty captions. They give me nothing.

Instead, I love to follow those with an interesting life, with experience and knowledge that are generous enough to share this in longer well-written captions that truly feed my soul.

Now Instagram and other social media platforms are a positive part of my life instead of a negative one. I go there to be better, learn more, meet interesting people from the whole world and feed my creativity.

Exactly what it was meant to be like from the start. Before I messed it up by following the wrong people and getting stuck in a circle of anxiety and comparison.

Are you ready to take control of your social media? Maybe its time for you too to hit unfollow on anxiety?

The blog post “It’s time to hit unfollow on anxiety”  is a part of my #MINDFLUENCING campaign I created in collaboration with Instagram in January 2019. It’s an attempt to inspire us to be more mindful both as creators and as followers on social media. You can read more about the campaign here. 

My outfit is all pre-loved or sold out. But you can find a few similar items here (affiliate links)

Photo – Rosalind Alcazar. Location – The Ivy Chelsea Garden. Jumper by Toteme, leather trousers by Joseph and earrings by Ida Sjöstedt (gifted).

6 Comments

  1. Hej Tess! Är så glad jag tog mig tiden till att läsa detta inlägget, jag har inte reagerat på din kampanj innan men förstår inte varför?! För tillfället har jag precis levt i en bubbla av ständig ångest över att inte känna mig lika ’bra’ som de superdupersnygga tjejerna på instagram, och det har gjort ont varje gång jag gått in och scrollat och insett hur ouppnåeligt det är – eftersom jag och dem är helt olika individer. Idealen jag jagade var så orealistiska och när jag reflekterade över varför jag följde dem så tyckte jag heller inte att deras bilder inspirerade? Så jag gjorde precis som du, gjorde en enorm unfollow-maraton och är så nöjd med det. Något jag dock fortfarande tycker är jobbigt är att det fortfarande dyker upp i mitt flöde på andra flikar beroende på vad mina följare, och de jag följer, följer på instagram. Så för tillfället försöker jag istället minska min användning av instagram och helt enkelt inte låta det ta för stor plats. Jag vill helt enkelt leva mer i verkligheten och inte på sociala medier. Dock så fick ditt inlägg mig verkligen att reflektera över vad MITT konto sänder ut. Jag är långt ifrån att ha ett perfekt liv och jag hoppas att detta syns på min instagram. Tack för detta inlägget, det var precis vad jag behövde!

    1. Jag förstår precis hur du känner. Det är inte inspirerande att känna att folk skryter eller gör sig till. Jag tycker att du har gjort helt rätt som har börjat avfölja. Det är så mycket nyttigare att följa konton som ger oss positivitet. <3 Ge algoritmen lite tid så kommer den att fatta vilken typ av konton du vill se på explore. Vad dina vänner klickar på får man nog tyvärr bara försöka förbise så gott det går.

  2. I went further than hitting unfollow; a few months ago I deleted Instagram entirely because I was so sick of seeing how commercialized it had become. I only recently re-joined and culled the list of accounts I was following. Now my feed is filled only with people I actually care about (and they all make me smile and feel good about myself) xo

    1. I think it’s such a healthy thing to take a break if you feel like it’s all getting to you. I’m in a really good place with my social media following too, I’m still getting rid of accounts, but 90% of them are amazing and positive.

  3. So happy I came across your post this morning. I recently did this exact thing. A lot of my friends thought I was being dramatic. I’ve recently started to grow a small YouTube channel I started when my son was born, but instead of diving deeper into social media I had to pull away. I wasn’t enjoying my children or my family or the content I was making anymore. Instead I was comparing it to other’s lives and it made me feel horrible. I didn’t have words to describe what or why I was unfollowing a lot of creators in my niche, but your post articulated it perfectly. Now I’m trying to genuinely connect with people who share my VALUES not just my niche. Anyways, I’m starting to rant, but this was a great article and such an important message to share.

    1. I think a lot of us are gravitating to a more mindful way of using social media. It just went too far without enough depth to last. The trend is turning and hopefully, we will all choose better from now on. I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying social media again! It’s there to enrich our lives, not the opposite <3

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