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How Not to Get Overwhelmed by Social Media

In light of Marie Kondo’s widely popular approach of purging your things to cleanse your life of clutter, it’s time we did the same with our social media experience. I’ve read several blog posts recently depicting people’s social media experience as completely overwhelming and stressful, and read about bloggers venting their frustrations over the high expectations of today’s society. In the one I read most recently, I found myself nodding my head in agreement and internally screaming “YES!”

I, too, have felt overwhelmed by social society for a while now, as if I could never keep up or be good enough for, like, anything. But then I had an epiphany. I’m partially to blame for this. Consider this: How many rich celebrities do you follow on Instagram? How many DIY crafters do you follow on Facebook? How many “be your own boss” or “make millions now” business pages do you follow in LinkedIn? The truth is we’ve actually been sabotaging ourselves by following hundreds of social accounts that constantly contradict themselves. It’s no wonder we’re so overwhelmed. But social media isn’t to blame—we are!

The good news is you can fix this, quick and easy. Ask yourself: what do you want to get out of your social media experience? For me, I want to see what my family and closest friends are up to. I want to get tips on fitness, healthy, décor, parenting, and food. And most importantly, I don’t want to feel ashamed. For anything.

Do yourself a favor and begin the purge. Do you really need to know what’s happening in the life of someone you met once 5 years ago? Do you really need to follow twelve blogs about home decorating? Twelve, though? Really?

Probably not. So let’s dive in.

Step 1: Get rid of “friends” who make you feel worse about yourself or your life
Following friends on social media is supposed to give you warm feelings of happiness for all the milestones that person is celebrating in their life. If that “friend” makes you feel bad about your life—or worse, you suspect they’re faking their happiness just to impress others—consider unfriending or unfollowing them STAT. The same for people you rarely talk to, or haven’t talked to in years. Is surface-level friendship really worth the inner turmoil of jealousy if you can’t find it in yourself to be happy for them? Some friends only post rants or offensive memes. They need to go. Some friends only post selfies. If you like their selfies, great, like away. But if they provide little other inspiration for you, it’s time to part ways.

Step 2: Unfollow ¾ of the news, magazine, celebrity, or brand accounts/pages that you currently follow. You and I both know it’s too much. When you first sign up for a new social account like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, they make suggestions on people or pages to follow. This is great for first-timers, but if you’re anything like me, you picked 20 or so people and pages right off that bat that you only felt Luke warm about. As time goes by, you like and follow more and more accounts until one day you realize you follow 176 unnecessary pages, all of which are confusing and stressful.

Divide your desired account into categories, like “food”, “fitness”, “parenting”, “cars”, “news”, “fashion” etc, and pick only one or two valuable sources for each category. When you only have one source providing the content, you’re more likely to listen and—most importantly—not get overwhelmed with contradicting ideals. I narrowed my news sources down to one, because the constant reminder of death and destruction in our world was too much to bear.

Step 3: Replace those unwanted accounts with people or celebrities who inspire you, but only if you truly think their content will be valuable. Pick 10 or 12 celebrities you truly cherish and follow only their pages; forget the C-listers.

Step 4: Is probably the hardest one yet. Be prepared for the “why aren’t we friends on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter?” discussion with acquaintances. There are a couple of ways to approach this. One is with the simple truth, “I’ve recently started limiting my network to family and close friends only,” with no other explanation. Then try your best to change the subject. If they persist, you could elaborate with “I’m doing my best to not get overwhelmed by hundreds of posts from friends I only see sparingly. While I genuinely hope everything in your life is going great, I simply don’t want to be overwhelmed by my newsfeed.” If they ask why you don’t consider them a close friend….well, you’re on your own there.

Another approach is to white-lie your way out of it, although you might get yourself caught once in a while, so I don’t recommend it (but let’s be honest, we’ve all done this anyway). Go with the classic “Oh, I didn’t see your request come through….that’s weird” *begins to fake-frantically scroll on phone for said request*

And then there are times when they don’t deserve an explanation at all. Screw ‘em. It’s your social feed, your life, your mood. Stop feeling pressured to invite every person you’ve ever met into your life. Just smile and blink at them. Then walk away.

Clearing your life of clutter isn’t limited to physical things or space, you also need a clear head to live life fully. So pick up your phone and start eliminating unnecessary people and pages NOW.