Sometimes it’s easy to forget that this whole Internet thing is there to solve your problems, to make you feel better, not worse.
Recently, I noticed I followed a lot of writers on Twitter who were just pain-in-the-ass, book-promoting machines. All of their tweets said things like:
@AnnoyingWriter: Angelique’s lover has a secret he can’t keep forever. A steamy debut from @omgnoonecares #erotica #HEA #OMG #buythisbook bit.ly/nonsenselettersandnumbers
Just yards and yards of this. No humans as far as the eye could see.
The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back
It’s actually not writing-related. I know this is a writing blog, but it’s MY writing blog and this is important, because I know I’m not the only one who does this to myself, and who want to write when they’re unhappy?
The straw that broke the camel’s back was… fitspo.
That’s right, fitspo.
I’m a runner and all-around personal fitness enthusiast, and I got suckered into following a lot of fitness blogs looking for smoothie recipes, floor workouts, and kettlebell advice. Pretty soon, my Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest feeds started to look like this picture you see here.
In case there was any doubt…
This Sucks and Is Bad
Twin creeks of annoyance and self-loathing flowed in to my psyche slowly from these disparate sources. Inauthenticity from the writers, the myth of perfection under a glaze of spray tan from the athletes.
Pretty soon, I started feeling the effects. Call me easily suggestible if you want to. I honestly don’t care.
This Is Poisonous Social Media
Looking at all these images of perfection and prolificity wasn’t inspiring. It wasn’t motivating. It didn’t confer some sense of hope. It was depressing. In the case of the fitspo, it was paralyzing.
I began turning my simple to-do lists into you-suck lists (more on that one soon). My approach to writing and marketing my work had started to stagnate a little. I started to enjoy running less, because facts are facts: no matter how many miles I logged, I simply would not look like those faceless, nameless perfect torsos filling my Pinterest page. I’m made of strong, hardy Italian peasant stock. I’m only 5’4″ and I have a short torso. I’m not built to look like a sinuous Argentinian Nike model.
Over time, I became less and less okay with that. All that garbage just made me less happy with myself, although I hadn’t changed at all.
Don’t Wait – Do the Purge
Does this resonate with you? Is social media bringing you down? Want to know how to purge this toxic waste from your social media streams? Here’s how.
Twitter – the very next time a writer steps over the line and you catch yourself thinking, “Oh my God, not another promo tweet again” – tap the writer’s Twitter handle. Navigate to her profile. Unfollow.
Facebook – Just visit the offender’s pages on Facebook and hit “unfollow” under their cover picture. If an individual on your Friends list is the culprit, navigate to their profile and click “Following” to change it to “Follow.” You’ll stay friends, but you won’t be assaulted at random times by their shamey or shameless posts.
Instagram – Go to the writer’s or fitspo’s or whatever-spo’s profile and tap the green “following” button to change it to “follow.” Refresh your stream.
On Pinterest, because it’s a learning algorithm, you have to X individual posts.
After the Purge
I’m always going to find something new to be annoyed about, so I wasn’t really expecting the removal of all the toxic posters from my social streams to have any sort of effect on my mood. However, I did start to feel better, very shortly.
All I know is the amount of time and thought energy I’ve expended since then, looking down at my horizontal belly button or wondering why some chick’s “before” picture wasn’t good enough because her body looks like mine, or glumly poking at bits of me that don’t look like the tanned and taut bits of others – all headless female torsos with impossibly long, skinny bellybuttons and jutting hip bones – has decreased considerably.
If you spend time wondering these things like I did and still do, sometimes, consider a fellow writers / fitspiration / diet & exercise website purge from your social media. You might just feel a lot better; I do.