How to Turn Depressing Social Media Into a Positive Influence

To make Twitter as pleasant as possible, unfollow with extreme prejudice. Only follow accounts that only post content you’re sure to enjoy. It’s also worth considering many of the best accounts also have Instagram and Facebook.

The tips above are how to make these services show you what you want to see. But what do you show the world? This is certainly a very different question. Amy Liu, 22, felt she was putting on a fake persona in her digital life, and that was one of the reasons she dropped social media. “I felt I was portraying this fake version of me that wasn’t real, especially on Instagram where your life essentially can’t have flaws and missteps, because it’s all reduced to a pretty picture.”

I can certainly understand this. I travel for half the year, and I post a lot of stories on my Instagram about where I am and what I’m doing. It’s public, but it’s also for my friends. I rarely, even on my private Facebook account that’s just for friends and family, post about negative experiences. When I’ve done this in the past, I’ve gotten comments along the lines of “you’re traveling, everything is perfect, stop complaining.” That’s unfair, and untrue, yet when what you choose to present to the world seems perfect, people think everything is perfect. I’ve stopped making posts like that, which is a challenge when things aren’t great, but I’ve learned that social media isn’t usually the place to get support.

Here’s the thing: You don’t have to post anything you don’t want to. You don’t have to post at all. There is a pressure to share, of course, but what you share and how much is entirely up to you. It’s unlikely anyone will notice if you don’t post in a week or more, especially if you remain active and comment on other’s posts (if you want).

So what happened with my digitally disappeared friend? Well, she’s still gone. For selfish reasons that makes me sad, as I don’t get to see what she’s up to with any regularity. But we still talk every few weeks to catch up. For her, though, it has been an entirely positive step. She doesn’t know if she’ll be back, but knows that’s an option if she wants.

That fact might make the decision easier for you, too: You could always reactivate your accounts. Or even just start a new one, with a very select group of friends. Perhaps after some time off, you’ll have a better idea of what you miss and what you want out of these services, and fine tune them to only show you that. It’s a tough world out there. I recommend puppies. Lots of puppies.

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