Note: While we typically write about content from a business perspective, recent conversations have compelled us to write a sort of PSA for the general public.
For a long time, I was logging off social media feeling worse than when I arrived. It's a problem platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been facing for years: People log in thinking they'll get to communicate with friends, but they end up arguing with people on a variety of contentious topics. Yet people still coming back because there's a reward system in social media that makes it intoxicating. But once people log in, their moods plummet.
It's a serious problem with some serious research behind it. Researchers from NYU recently published a study that found users who deactivated their social media accounts for one month showed decreases in depression and anxiety and increases in happiness and overall life satisfaction.
I first noticed the issue a few years ago, when a high school friend began complaining about how much he hated Facebook. Although we had a major overlap in connections and shared many of the same values, his social media experiences were often much different than mine. It was making him miserable.
But I was fine.
The difference, I soon realized, was thanks to those few individuals we didn't have in common. I had customized my experience to the point that I no longer saw negative comments or posts from people I couldn't stand.
It's an action you can take as well.
Recreating Your Social Media Experience
It's important to remember that you determine the bulk of your social media experience. Yes, you'll be exposed to ads on the platforms, oftentimes whether you want to or not.
But the bulk of the content you come across—the posts and comments other people deliver—is up to you.
On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there is a small icon in the upper right hand corner of each post. On Facebook and Instagram, it's three little dots. On Twitter, it's a drop down arrow. Both of these icons provide some helpful opportunities, depending on which platform you're on.
Blocking is the quickest way to boot someone from your feed for good. You'll no longer see any of the content they post—and they'll no longer be able to contact you through the social platform.
This is less severe than blocking. Unfollowing or muting is like unsubscribing to an email list—you'll no longer have to see that individual's posts.
Snoozing someone is the same as unfollowing or muting—but for a limited time. After a specified duration, you'll start seeing that individual's posts again.
Hide Post/Show Less Often
This is a way of teaching the algorithms what you're most interested in seeing. It's not a perfect system yet, but clicking one of these options will immediately remove the offensive post from your feed. As you continue to teach the platform what you don't want to see, your experience should improve.
Turn on Notifications
While the other options were about eliminating content from your post, this helps you experience more of the content you want to see. Let's say your friend posts something you really enjoy, and you want to see what everyone says about it. Turning on notifications will send you alerts whenever people comment.
If you spend any amount of time on social media, you deserve to have a positive experience. The platforms are constantly evolving to please users, but they've fallen behind. You must take control of your own feed.