Unfollow the Joy Suckers: Why What We See On Social Media Is Crucial For Our Mental Health
Joy Sucker: someone who literally sucks the happiness from your life.
Do you think we could get that term added to the dictionary? Or at the very least Google? I wonder what does come up when you Google “joy sucker?” (Because I am how I am I actually did try Googling it. Are you shocked?)
You know when you’re scrolling through social media and you start to see certain posts and before you know this big giant cloud appears over your entire day? You’re irritable, you’re negative. You’re annoyed with pretty much everything. And you may even find yourself preoccupied. Thinking about how you’re not pretty enough, or skinny enough. Or your home is too messy, or you’re a bad mom.
Guys, social media has changed. Instead of it being the good old Joy Luck Club we all came to love it for; where we could drop an emo lyric and walk away – it’s turned into the Joy Suck Club. If we’re not careful, a fun way to interact with old and new friends has quickly turned into Karen sliding into your DMs trying to recruit you for her side gig while telling you why your political views are wrong and sharing photos of her perfect family that never fights. Oh, and not to mention her house is always so freaking CLEAN.
(Also, I understand the cultural significance of the real Joy Luck Club, but it rhymed so please cut me some slack).
(Side note number two, my favorite emo lyric of all time to attach to a status is, “…The truth is you could slit my throat. And with my one last gasping breath I’d apologize for bleeding on your shirt.” Bonus points if you can correctly name the band. Comment below, you’ll make my entire day).
Our generation spends so much time on our phones it’s ridiculous. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m just as guilty as anyone. I always say that I’m going to give myself designated “online” hours, but as hard as I may try, it just hasn’t worked out yet.
You’ve probably seen reports on social media (of all places, of course, because we just can’t get enough) that social media use is actually contributing to higher levels of depression and anxiety in our youth. With cyber bullying and a constant comparison game at our literal fingertips, it’s not hard to see why. So my question is.. why, if we’re spending so much time on social media, do we continue to submerge ourselves in content that brings us down?
This same principle goes for real life, too. You know, when we’re really being social – not face down in our phone type social. We wouldn’t continue to spend time with people in real life who make us feel bad, so why do we continue to follow people on social media who have the same effect? I’ve made it a project of mine to start consciously paying attention to how certain accounts make me feel. I don’t do this out of spite, and I don’t do this for petty reasons. But I do this because I realize that my mental health is a huge flippin’ priority. Sometimes, continuing to see the same types of posts over and over again that leave me feeling uninspired puts me in a negative mental space.
I am the type of person who has always been very quick to compare myself with others. I think it’s probably somehow related to my anxiety. I’ve always been worried that I’ll be left out, or judged, or someone will be better than me at something (which hello, Natasha, there are millions of people better than me at millions of different things). But my point is that I start to play the comparison game. And if I don’t feel like I’m up to parr in an area that someone else is excelling at (or leading us to believe they’re excelling at), I start to wonder what is wrong with me. And then I start to pick myself apart. And it all just goes to shit after that.
It’s not to say that if someone is succeeding I automatically unfollow them or that I can’t find the joy in their happiness. Not even close. What I’m saying is, if I find myself viewing someone else in a way that makes me value my own self less, then that’s a problem that needs to be addressed. When I see accounts that seem staged. Like their life is perfect, and everything is on the surface, I don’t connect. Instead, I compare. And I see how my life is so messy. And busy. And imperfect. And then I think.. well fudge. I suck. I tend to start feeling bad about myself, instead of recognizing that the other person’s truth might be very different from my own. And it’s not to say that what they’re doing is wrong. They may have their own reasons for not getting super personal with the entire world, or for choosing to share the content that they do. That’s totally fine. But it’s not what I need when it comes to looking for inspiration on social media.
Our mental health is so dang important. Just like the food we put in our bodies, and the work we do to make ourselves healthier. We should be making the same effort when it comes to what we allow to invade our thoughts, our space, our time. This goes for our relationships in person, too. When we are constantly surrounding ourselves with people who make us feel less than, guess what? We start to exhibit those feelings. We start believing that we ARE, in fact, less than. This could be an intentional message from people around us, or something that we are imposing based on our own perceptions. But regardless of how we get to that, we need to find an effective solution to remove ourselves from it.
Speaking of mental health: life is too short to be anything but happy. Unlock the first secret to finding happiness in everything you do :
When should you unfollow someone on social media?
So.. how do you know when it’s time to disconnect? If you find yourself experiencing these feelings often with a specific account, it may just be time to sever those virtual ties. Just like Marie Kondo says.. if it doesn’t bring you joy, it may be time to throw it out. (Or in this case, click that unfollow button).
When you find their content offensive
When they’re commenting negative remarks on your posts, or vice versa
When you don’t interact or have any intention of interacting with their account
When you find yourself comparing your life to theirs in a negative way
When you feel bad about yourself or your life/achievements after viewing their content
When you feel angry, annoyed, or emotionally drained after viewing their content
When you find the content fake, or inauthentic, or you just can’t relate
When you walk away from viewing their posts and you feel guilty about your own life or decisions
When you don’t walk away feeling happy, inspired, educated, or empowered
Keep in mind if you’re feeling this way about someone else or their social media account, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve done something wrong or that you’ve done something wrong. Sometimes it’s just a good reminder that we need to reevaluate the energy we surround ourselves with and what we allow in our lives.
For me personally, I like to follow people on social media who make me feel uplifted. I look for accounts that make me laugh, challenge my thought processes, and teach me something new. I like to be inspired, and I like to follow people who I can relate to – in all aspects of life; the good, the bad, the ugly, the funny, the cry-worthy. All of it. I also like to use it as an opportunity to make new friends and to get to know the people that I interact with in real life. You don’t always have to post an inspirational message to get me to stick around. I just want to know there’s a real live human on the other end of that profile.
If you’re considering “cleaning up” your friends list, I think it’s important to ask yourself a few questions first: What made you decide to follow that person to begin with? Was it because you initially enjoyed their content or found it valuable? Or did you follow because you felt like you had to – or you were being nosy? (Come on, we’ve all been there). Because your mom told you to follow her cousin’s sister’s aunt Betty from Georgia? Just because you may know someone, or even if it’s a relative – if they’re posting content that ultimately is upsetting you, you don’t have to continue following them.
Want to know a super cool hack that works for both Facebook and Instagram? You can unfollow (or mute on IG) a person without actually unfollowing their page. This just means their content will no longer show up in your newsfeed, and the only way you’ll see it is if you seek them out. I may or may not have done this with some family members who like to get political-post-happy. But I won’t name any names – because the best part is, those people have no way of knowing they’ve been muted! 😉
At the end of the day, social media should be a positive thing. If that general theme has been lacking lately with your online use, it may be time to reevaluate how you use those apps!