Do you remember the beginning of social media? I do.
I remember thinking, “This is so amazing! I can keep up with all my friends and family even from afar! What a great way to nurture my friendships!” Okay, that wasn’t word-for-word, but you get it.
And as someone who has lived in four different states across the country over the last ten years and has loved ones all over the world – I still love that social media allows me to drool over my friends’ babies and celebrate marriages and pregnancies from afar.
I’ve also learned a lot on social media and met incredible people who I wouldn’t know otherwise. And honestly, some of my favorite products have come from Facebook ads. I mean, have you seen Lume deodorant ads? Truly just a rare piece of gold in our society.
The Problem with Social Media
Unfortunately, it is downright impossible to be on any social media platform without also coming face to face with hatred.
We’re all human – but that’s easy to forget through a computer screen.
In real life, we don’t have to agree on things to be friends and to be kind to each other. I have cousins who are on completely opposite sides of the political spectrum and SOMEHOW, some way, there have been no murders in our family.
But when you’re looking at a phone or computer screen and seeing the unfiltered thoughts of a complete stranger, your own unfiltered and unkind thoughts can spill out a little too easily.
Of course, having the freedom and courage to share your thoughts, beliefs, and opinions is not a bad thing in itself. And having #nofilter on Instagram is quite different than having no filter when you post comments online.
The unfortunate result is that social media showcases the absolute worst in many people. And allowing yourself to constantly be exposed to the worst in people can turn into a breeding ground for anger, depression, and anxiety.
But here’s the good news…
You are not powerless against the negatives of social media! You don’t have to just let yourself be exposed to the worst in people and lose every ounce of faith in humanity. We have control over what we consume.
In fact, I stumbled on two incredible friendships that have actually helped ALL my other relationships and my decisions online. I’ve grown very close to these two friends, and our rock-solid relationship has single-handedly prevented social media from sending me to jail.
Their names are: block and unfollow.
Why Blocking and Unfollowing are the Best Parts of Social Media
You will never be able to control everything you see online–but you can manage it by cutting out the pieces that are unnecessary and unacceptable.
In real life, I’ve never had anyone run up to me in public and start calling me names because they overheard one sentence of my conversation. But that is exactly what happens in Facebook groups at just about every second. I have about four examples I could show you on hand, but I’ll spare you.
If you find that certain comments or even seeing someone’s name immediately makes you feel angry, annoyed, jealous, judgemental, or any of those other yucky feelings… it’s time to call in the big guns. Block and unfollow.
What Blocking and Unfollowing is Not
For the record, I’m not suggesting that you run away from your problems or bad feelings. Even your closest BFF buttons won’t make you mentally and emotionally healthy–that takes inner work.
But the block and unfollow buttons give you the space to do that work.
It takes about three clicks. Click on their name, menu, and block.
Then move on with a social media feed that is uncluttered with hatred. Trust me, fifteen seconds of self-control feels so much better than being sucked into an online argument. I promise it’s true.
How and When To Unfollow Someone
If you let me get technical for just a second, unfollowing is slightly different on Instagram than it is for Facebook friends. On Instagram, you can “restrict” or “mute” people–so you still technically follow them, but you won’t see their posts in your feed.
On Facebook, this is called unfollowing.
This is for those friends and family members who you love–dearly–but their social media posts aren’t exactly improving your life or your relationship.
Unfollowing or muting is great because you won’t ever have to explain to your mom why you aren’t Facebook friends with Aunt Patty anymore. She never has to know! This can (and should) be done out of love.
For example, I have some MLM friends who are just rocking it. They really are, and it’s awesome! I’m so happy for them. But I am just legitimately not interested in that opportunity. So after the fifteenth post about their income (that week)… let’s just say that my thrill for them had dwindled.
I know you can relate.
Should I tell them to stop? Um, no.
Can I control their choices? No
Can I control their posts? Nope.
Can I work on whatever is causing me to feel angry and annoyed at someone else? Abso-freaking-lutely.
And in the meantime, I can limit my exposure to the things that cause me to make bad decisions and damage my relationships.
Thank you, unfollow.
How and When To Block Someone
Before my relationship with the block button really flourished, I thought it should only be used as a means of safety. But no, blocking is a gift designed for more than just stalkers and scammers! Use it freely!
Next time you see a post or comment from a stranger and you notice some not-so-rosy emotions start to stir, take a second. Take a breath. And block them.
Arguing with a troll online has yet to make the world a better place. Instead, just remove yourself (and the obscenities that want to leap out of your fingertips) from the situation.
Just a few seconds to eliminate an unnecessary source of stress.
How NOT to Block or Unfollow
With great power comes great responsibility. And listen, these buttons are my besties, so use them with care!
Block and unfollow are not designed for you to get justice or revenge on the people who disagree with you online. If that were the case, you wouldn’t be able to work a job or have a family – there just isn’t enough time in the universe.
Instead, use these buttons to maintain your own boundaries and take care of your mental health. The internet doesn’t need you to be the hero and tell people WHY you’re blocking them, unfollowing, or reporting. If you ever feel like making a choice online because “That’ll show them!” then you’ve already gone too far.
The next time social media makes you angry, say it with me: block, bless, and release.