08 Oct Social media curation
Firstly, thank you to everyone who has read, commented on, shared and emailed following my relaunch post a few days ago. It’s obviously been quite some time since I was posting here and it’s wonderful to see that people are still interested, as well as seeing some familiar names in the comments.
Today I wanted to ‘talk’ about social media. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately (evidently?) and actually earlier this year I got the opportunity to assist the UK Eating Disorder charity Beat and researchers at Loughborough University in the creation of a short film about how social media can be both helpful and harmful to those with Eating Disorders.
INSERT VIDEO : Beat/Loughborough animation
Participating in this project got me thinking about how we often don’t discuss (with clients, friends, or anyone, really) the need to be intentional about how we use digital media. This is especially interesting when you consider that more often than not our access to this is in our hand, or our pocket (in the form of a smartphone), at most points throughout the day. I’ve read a lot of information, and heard a lot of personal stories over the year about how damaging social media can be.
You’ve probably seen some of the current and ongoing focus on the potential for Facebook and Instagram to be damaging – especially for children and young people. However, I have also heard time, and time again, how social media (and wider digital media) is a person’s access to community. In fact, throughout much of the pandemic it would have been the only way to communicate with another human being for many of us!
As someone offering therapy online, running a blog and acting as Co-Chair of a social media committee, I might be a little biased; but I think most things can work for good if we want them to, and social media seems a prime example of that. So, I really do think it’s time that we started to talk about intentionally using social media; especially curating our social media feeds with our own values and mental health in mind.
If you grab your phone right now (you might even be reading this on it) and open your Instagram feed (for example) you only need to scroll for a few seconds on your home page, and a few seconds on your suggestions page to get a vibe for how well you are curating the content you are viewing.
What posts show up there? Is it content that will enrich your day in some way? How can you IMPROVE what you are seeing if it’s not aligned with your values and mental wellbeing?
I’ve started literally asking clients to do this as an activity during a therapy appointment. Opening up that page and thinking about what it shows, and how it might be harmful or helpful. When it comes to the world of Eating Disorders, it could be that someone’s feed is filled with pro-eating disorder content, images of food, or more subtlety pictures that might leave them feeling really negative about themselves in terms of achievements or body image. Then BANG every time they open their phone they are met with a trigger. The cool thing is it’s easy to change. You could go as far as resetting your account if necessary – but simply unfollowing the accounts that are unhealthy and then following a bunch that would be more positive also does the job.
Whether this means finding accounts that post positive or inspirational quotes, create informative posts about mental health or something else of interest, perhaps it’s just cute dog pictures (they make everyone smile, right?), or finding those that might offer a better representation of the life you want to live.
I know some months ago I made a point of paying attention to the lack of diversity on my social media feeds. I then sought out people creating content to improve this; seeking out those from other cultures, in different age brackets, different body sizes and different abilities. My smartphone feels like a healthier place for it.
I feel like it was a positive step for me, and others I’ve had the conversation with have agreed.
I hope that for some people reading this post this in the reminder you need to engage with social media in as healthy way as possible. I’d love to hear if you make these changes, or perhaps you are planning to start asking your clients about this?
Also… stayed tuned, something exciting is coming THIS SUNDAY!