If you follow me on Instagram you might know by now that I’m big on “intentionality”. Especially when it comes to social media.
Social media is great. It can bring people closer, inspire, foster community, teach, entertain…but we know the opposite is also true. It can alienate, discourage, break friendships, degrade. We know this is true because we’ve likely all felt it.
But good news! This is where your free will comes in. You have control.
Or at least you can. Did you forget? You have control over your feed! You choose who you follow, what stories you watch, who you connect with.
When you control what you’re consuming on social (and other forms of) media you control your mind: thoughts, which become actions, which become who you are!
If social media ever makes you feel heavy, drained, bummed for whatever reason, a hiatus might be a good option. But so is an examination of the accounts you follow.
You chose to follow those accounts. You can unfollow them at any time. Yes. Yes you can.
When you read verses like: “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” (Philippians 4:8) do you ever wish you knew what that meant in a practical sense?
Well, here’s one way. On social media, connect with good company, choose to look at good things. Are the photos that person posts really something to be feasting your eyes on? Is the message that account is spreading consistent with the message you’d like to spread to the world?
We can engage with imperfect media in this imperfect world. We can filter the bad and use the good. But that can’t be our excuse for following accounts that, for whatever reason, bring us down, distract us, or arouse feelings of envy, insecurity, discontent.
No matter how often or much you use social media, it’s enough to affect you. Be intentional in what you consume on social. You have agency. You have choice.
This is why you should unfollow me, or that guy from high school, that family member, the–actually discouraging–motivational guru, the fitness influencer whose every story is a discreet ad and whose posts you should likely fact check, and anyone whose account doesn’t do you good.
Strength isn’t putting up with toxicity. Strength is breaking free.
Why are you on social media? What would you like to get from it? Does who you follow reflect that?
What’s your message? Who are you? Who would you like to become? Are the accounts you follow helping you get there?
This post was originally written and published in June 2019. Since then, Netflix has released the powerful documentary: The Social Dilemma. While it’s impossible to pinpoint one thing as the solution to this massive problem, intentional changes made at individual levels are the only way we can immediately begin mitigating it. It’s admittedly comfortable to blame a multi-billion dollar company for everything, and a whole other thing to accept that we have a role to play too, especially in bringing about change.