Facebook is an excellent way to promote your work and gain a following. It can help you to stay in touch with family, friends, and fans, and makes staying connected a breeze. Likewise, Instagram is a lot of fun and it can grow your following.
But like all good things, social media has a dark side, too. Here are the posting habits that hurt more than they help:
Lying to yourself.
You already know social media is a highlight reel, and not an accurate representation of what anyone’s life is really like. So why is it so hard to keep that in mind when you’re looking at Janice’s vacation pics, her craft hour with her eighteen immaculate toddlers in their spacious suburban home, and her beautiful casserole she somehow found the time to concoct between being a supermom and making six figures selling doilies on the Internet?
It’s hard not to retaliate by sweeping all the shit off your desk, setting down a mug of coffee and your freshly condensed-air-blasted laptop, turning your planner to its most sticker-soaked page, and snapping a quick picture. Caption: Make every day great!
Feigning that you actually do have your shit together, that you don’t live in a state of chaotic squalor, and that you don’t spend your most productive coffee-fueled hours looking at Janice’s Facebook page feels fucking awesome. Or, at least, it does when you hit that post button. And again when the likes come trickling in. But once you put the phone down, you see all that clutter you knocked to the floor. You see the empty word doc, with the blinking cursor at the top left of the screen.
And you feel like a fraud. (And you kinda are –but don’t be too hard on yourself. We all do it!) You feel like a liar. The more productive use of your time is to realize that Janice is super good at social media. Maybe she really is a powerhouse of a woman. But what you see on her Facebook and Instagram is not representative of what her life actually is. Just get to work. The real rewards will come when you do it for real, and don’t just post about it.
Constant Goal Posting
It’s tempting to hold yourself accountable by posting goals for yourself publically. The trouble is when you stop there –at posting about your goals. Sometimes, if we’re truly honest with ourselves, what we’re really looking for when we post these things is a pat on the back.
“Wow, you have so much discipline!” – going on a diet
“I knew you were smart!” – going back to school
“Don’t forget about me when you’re famous!” – publishing a novel
We hear these things, and our need for that warm, fuzzy feeling is satisfied. No need to actually follow through.
Instead, work toward your goals. If you want to post about your accomplishment when you reach it, let that be your reward.
Social Media is a Time Suckhole
Have you ever been running late to something and thought, “Man, that half hour I spent on the toilet scrolling through those ‘Word Porn’ screen grabs Rayleigh posted was totally worth it”? If so, a) you’re kinda weird and b) you can skip this section.
By the same token, it’s likely you’ve never looked back at your life and wished you spent more hours staring at your phone.
And what things have you seen on Facebook or Instagram that have truly benefited you? Yeah, it’s great you saw your old high school buddy got a new job. Marty’s new puppy is adorable. You don’t regret seeing these posts. But for every useful, good social media post, how many shitty ones have you scrolled through? Are you better for having seen those?
And while we’re being real, let’s be a little more real: do you not judge the fuck out of people when you’re reading their posts? Especially the super stupid ones? Wouldn’t you have a better opinion of Timothy if you never looked at the posts from him on your timeline?
Check Facebook 1-3 times a day. Scroll through your timeline. Make some comments, hit some likes. Post your posts. But don’t look at it again after that! It’s time-consuming and there are few positives you can glean from constantly checking it.
Also –that blue icon with the white F? It’s mind-controlling you! App icons are designed to be attention-grabbing and deliciously clickable. How many times do you read your whole timeline, close it, and open it right back up without thinking?
Move social media icons to their own folder so they aren’t staring at you all the time. It’ll cut down on your impulse to click them.
Comparing Yourself to Others
When you see Janice’s antics on Facebook, it makes you look inward. It can make you feel inferior to her, as though you have accomplished less. As though she is better than you in every conceivable way.
Not only is this simply untrue –it’s no good. Seeing how much money people make, how much free time, how many flights and vacations and concerts your friends afford, isn’t good for your morale. Because there are multiple people posting only the fun shit they get to do, it can make you feel as though everyone else has this kickass life where all they do is party and do impressive things. And where are you when you’re looking at these things?
Usually not somewhere fun, since you’re looking at your phone. You’re likely at work, in bed, in line for a fast food meal that’s going to break your diet while Dan flaunts his six-pack and tan on a beach overseas. Keep in mind Dan has to go back to work sometime, too.