How to Cultivate a Positive Social Media Scroll
We've all been there. Aimlessly scrolling on social media, drooling over bodies that are physically impossible for us to attain, wishing we, too, had forty-five Louis Vitton bags and a pomeranian. But scrolling through our social media accounts is mindnumbing, especially when we follow the 'bad influencers'—the people who paint a picturesque life that make us feel ashamed of ours. Nobody is expecting you to live off the grid and deactivate all of your social media accounts. But, you should be making social media a more productive, positive place for yourself. Cultivating a positive social media scroll is essential for your mental health. And, it's much easier to do than you may think.
Look at who you are following on social media. You have full reign on who you do and do not see pop up on your screen. We live in a world where we feel terrified to unfriend someone online; the repercussions feel immense. But you control your social media. If you don't want to see something, you don't have to. It can be gone with one click. Also, it's never permanent. If you wish to re-follow someone, you absolutely can, so long as it maintains a positive scroll. Ask yourself:
- 'Am I seeing posts that make me feel unhappy or put me in a bad mood?
- Does this account make me feel like I need to be someone I'm not?
- Am I comparing my life, body or success with others?' 
If you say 'yes' to any, then it's time to unfollow. The most important thing is being able to identify accounts which make you feel bad, or even neutral. Sometimes, you benefit nothing from following a social media account. If either is the case, unfollow them. Otherwise, you're feeding into the aimless, brainwashing scroll that you want to avoid.
Well done! You've just had a social media cleanse. You've removed all the negativity from your accounts, and now you follow about 12 people. Feels good, but a bit lacking, right? Here's where step two comes in.
Follow more people! It might sound counterproductive, given that you've just removed everyone. But, now you're going to follow accounts which make you smile and make you feel good. And, use this as an opportunity to follow some inspirational, diverse, or creative pages. Some fantastic Instagram accounts to follow are:
- @feminist - diversity and female empowerment.
- @selfcareisforeveryone - self-care and mental health.
- @sunnybloominspiration - spreading positivity.
- @yung_pueblo - poetry about meditation and mental wellness.
- @DLCAnxiety - the largest anxiety support community.
- @lizandmollie - funny yet insightful and relatable comics.
- @justgrilproject - female empowerment and self-love.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of other accounts which you could follow for inspiration, guidance or joy. Including @boopmynose over on Instagram, it's delightful. Following the 'right' people or pages will make you happier when scrolling, and will mean that you actually benefit from doing it, too. And, when you do follow, be active, not passive. 'Just scrolling, or "passively viewing," leads to feelings of envy, but posting and commenting can help build feelings of connectedness and friendship'. We should lift one another and be supportive. If you see a post you like, comment and tell the person!
As much as you need to follow uplifting or inspirational pages, you should try to be that beacon of positivity for someone else. Share the posts that brighten your day. Or, post something which has delighted or inspired you, like a gorgeous autumn tree.
Think before you post, and consider how what you share may impact someone else. Of course, your social media is your space, so you can do what you so wish. However, if you intend to post content that others might be sensitive to, perhaps set your account to private and only allow your closest friends to follow you back.
A Little Bit of What You Fancy Does You Good
Social media can be an excellent tool for communication, and if you follow the right places, mindfulness. But, it can also be a drain on our mental health. Not to mention, our electronic devices emit blue light which reduces our ability to sleep well. Sometimes, it's good to take a break. Scrolling for hours on end is 'a common form of procrastination, but it's a sign you need to focus' . Take a day or two off from scrolling, and live in the now. If you're going to be too tempted to check your phone, there are plenty of apps available which lock your accounts for your chosen period. These include 'Flipd or Moment [which] are useful for limiting social media use and staying focused' .
Back to Life, Back to Reality
Social media presents a singular moment in someone's life. Often, those snapshots convey a flawless, happy existence. But, they are still just snapshots. People will always want to show their 'best selves' on social media, and right now, it's the perception of perfection. Comparing yourself to a filtered moment is damaging, and has led to so many cases of body dysmorphia, anxiety, and depression amongst young people. It's hard to remember that social media isn't an accurate reflection of life, so 'set a weekly reminder on your phone: Instagram is not real life!' . Doing so will ground you, and remind you that what social media presents as perfect, isn't always real.
Social media is hard to navigate. It's daunting, and more often than not, it is negative. But, you choose how you experience social media. If that means you use it once a week, go for it! If it means you follow hundreds of inspiring, motivational accounts, that's great! And, if social media isn't for you, that's fine too! Don't feel pressured to use social media just because everyone else does. Prioritise yourself and your mental wellbeing. Step away from the crowd, and narrate your own story.
- Stop scrolling: 4 things you should be doing on social [Internet]. Health and Wellness Services. 2020.
- Ross F. When Scrolling Through Social, Keep Your Mental Health in Mind [Internet]. Mental Health First Aid. 2018 [cited 2020 Oct 27].
- Ritchie M. Things to remember when scrolling through social media [Internet]. My Manchester News. 2019 [cited 2020 Oct 27].