How To Use Social Media As Your Personal Gratitude Journal
If you asked a crowd of people if they've ever felt personally victimized by their Instagram feed, I'd be the first one to raise my hand. There's nothing like scrolling through a sea of seemingly successful and happy people, pulling it off with seemingly little-to-no effort while you're laying in bed at 2 p.m., fist-deep into a bag of Cheetos.
While it's not fair to blame our shortcomings on Instagram models, it is telling as to how much a simple movement of the thumb can impact our personal wellbeing. And the amount of impact it can have is honestly, kind of frightening.
Rather than just accept the anxiety and negativity social media brings, why not do something about it?
Usually, when we're on social media, we're not spending time on the profiles of people we love and support. Or even hobbies or things or places we really enjoy. Which is funny because ISN'T THAT THE WHOLE REASON THIS STUPID THING WAS CREATED?
But no. Most of the time we're eight-weeks into the profile of some girl we never met who lives on some tropical island or big city and seems to spend all her time wearing cute outfits and drinking cocktails. We walk right into the trap of comparison, and we fail to realize that we're comparing our lives to that of literal celebrities.
These new kinds of celebrities created their fame in a way that makes them seem more accessible and relatable. Which, in turn, makes us feel like we're more like them. So why the hell are we not on the beach in a cute swimsuit with a Mai Tai and fruit bowl right now???
The other day, I found myself doing something slightly narcissistic — I was scrolling through my own Instagram page. And ya know what? It made me a little happy.
Scrolling through my photos and photos I was tagged in, made me smile and remember some good times. Seeing familiar faces (including my own) was a much-needed breath of fresh air from all the Kylie Jenners and Hailey Baldwins who usually crowd my feed.
I also think this is why I love TimeHop so much. Seeing photos and tweets from years ago that I totally forgot about is a quick way to bring a smile to my face — and make Al laugh if I said something particularly embarrassing. Facebook Emily from 7 years ago didn't quite grasp how to use winky-faces.
I always loved the idea of gratitude journals, but I never seem to keep up with them (currently experimenting with different ways to do that, so stay tuned), and looking at my own social media posts seemed to spark similar kinds of feelings.
Not everyone has old past social media posts that will spark joy, and in fact, some will spark some real pain. So if you want to try this out for yourself (because not everything works for everyone), take these three steps first:
1. Clean out your social media closet. If you're aware of a time that's particularly painful for you to see — and the thought of having it pop up on Timehop could seriously ruin your day — don't be afraid to delete it.
If it's on Instagram, you can archive a post, which will take it off your profile, but not delete it all together. If you're trying to weed out some particularly sad tweets, Twitter has an advanced search feature where you can search for specific words within your tweets (also a good tool if you're trying to make your Twitter more professional. I tweeted about vodka just one too many times in 2013).
I don't know of any similar features when it comes to Facebook, but you can always screenshot a post and store it in a folder on your phone if you're not ready to part with a memory completely.
2. Make it a part of your morning routine. In an ideal world, no one would pick up their phones for an hour or two after they wake up. But that's just not going to happen.
So rather than scroll through a feed that will put you right in comparison mode first thing in the A.M., set a reminder to look at Timehop or Snapchat Memories. It'll take some time to make it a real habit, but once it is, it'll be the best part of your morning.
3. Be intentional with your future posts. There's a time and a place for the harder-to-swallow messages on social media, of course, but positivity should reign supreme on your personal feed.
Now that you know that future you will be looking back on all your retweets, Insta-stories and photos, create them with the purpose of delighting her with a happy memory. Social media is supposed to be a highlight reel, after all.