The types of people we follow on social media have a huge impact on the type of content we spend hours seeing. Here's a method for staying conscious on who to follow:
If you’re reading this article right now, chances are that you spend a significant portion of your day scrolling through posts across various social media platforms. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this! In fact, I feel that your time spent using social media can have the power to make a positive impact on your life,
but only if you’re wise about the people you follow.
When I was 13 years old, I had just acquired my Instagram account (which back then was dubbed with a youthful username involving penguins and a series of numbers), and excitedly dove into the endless possibilities of accounts to follow. I mostly stumbled across fine arts photographers and individuals who made intricate edits via Photoshop, sparking my interest in photography and guiding me towards my future lifelong passion. But my young, impressionable eyes also had the misfortune of coming across a post by some #justgirlythings account that praised the beauty of the thigh gap. The comment section was full of young girls like me lamenting their “ugly” thighs, and I naively followed suit, leaving me with self esteem issues that took years to conquer.
But as time passed, I began actively questioning who I chose to follow on instagram, and I’m glad that I did. I’m happy to say that I currently follow a plethora of artists, adventurers, creative people, and friends new and old, who’s posts all brighten my day and leave me feeling inspired and cared for. And I’m here to share with you a few questions that I ask myself before I decide to follow an account.
Are you following them JUST because they’re pretty?
There’s plenty of facetuned, perfectly lit and lavishly styled posts from instagram models who use their beauty to sell products and promotions. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. But if you see a photograph of an impossibly-beautiful person who’s been glammed by professional makeup artists and you’re hit with a train of envy or self consciousness, you’d be doing yourself a favor to avoid these accounts. Don’t get me wrong-- there are so many beautiful people in this world (including you), and it’s a wonderful thing to admire this beauty. But if seeing it on your feed day in and day out is messing with your ability to see your own beauty, you might consider following some accounts that promote unique beauty and its place in art instead, such as @girlgaze or @milk.
In what ways does viewing their content benefit you?
In saying benefit, I mean to ask yourself how does seeing this content make you feel? Are you inspired? Excited? Nostalgic? Motivated? If you can answer yes to any of these, good! The images and videos you see every day should leave you with nothing but positive, contemplative, or inspirational emotions. If an account that you follow posts images that leave you with envy, hunger for materialistic things, or anger, you’ll carry these emotions into your everyday life, allowing social media to cause you real grief. Instead of this, I suggest following undiscovered artists, people who share their adventures (in a non-surface level way), comedians who can give you a good laugh, sweet accounts full of cute puppies to make you smile, or individuals who you look up to. A few of my favorite accounts that you could check out to leave you feeling lovely are @angeladeane, @kirbyjenner, @humansofny, @kookslams, and @furrylittlepeach.
Are they a genuine person?
Whether they have 100 followers or 100,000, you should always ensure that the people you follow radiate genuine personality. It’s draining to follow accounts that post only sponsored ads for products they’ve never even used, or photos of themselves relaxing by a luxurious pool in some beachy destination with no insight into the rough moments and expenses that accompany traveling. These things are just not a realistic view of our life here in this world, and these emotionless, promoted posts do nothing to connect you with new people and places. Try to follow individuals you could see yourself becoming friends with in real life, or who you’d go to for advice about a hiking trip you’d plan, or who are lending themselves to a cause near and dear to your own heart. A few of my fave instagram personas are @chelseakauai, @sharkgirlmadison, @fireandjoy, and @chrisburkard. They’ve all amassed quite a following, and yet remain true to their passions and personalities, which I deeply appreciate.
I hope that you’ll try to implement my questioning system to curate your following lists, as it really has helped me change my experience with social media--mainly Instagram--from one of negativity and self-consciousness to one of joy and inspiration. The people that I follow now have led me to my choice in undergrad major, my passion for photography, art, and travel, and to really truly value the positive unifying power of social media.