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Social media can be a beautiful tool to connect with people in your local community, or from anywhere around the world!
It’s a wonderful thing, to be sure, and gives us an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to each other on a global scale.
But social media can also be super toxic, or even dangerous at times.
Here are some tips for setting social media boundaries for the sake of your own mental health (or, in some cases, for your safety).
Setting Social Media Boundaries for Yourself
Curate Your Feed
Your experience on social media is entirely up to you.
You don’t have to follow anyone you don’t want to!
Set boundaries for yourself on social media by following these guidelines:
- Only follow accounts you actually care about. If they’re not adding anything to your life, don’t follow ’em!
- Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t actually want to be friends with. Do you really want your obnoxious coworker clogging up your Facebook feed? Just don’t add them in the first place!
- Re-evaluate whether you actually pay attention to certain accounts. Do you consistently skip over someone’s posts because they bore, annoy, or upset you? Maybe it’s time to unfollow them…
- On that note, go on unfollowing sprees from time to time! No matter how long you’ve been following them, you don’t have to keep following them, even if they follow you back. Odds are, they won’t even notice, and if they do, and they confront you about it, just tell them you’re trying to cut back on social media and only following certain accounts. If they’re offended by that, that’s their own insecurity they need to work through!
Post What You Want
You can have an account full of blurry photos of your cat, or ridiculous memes, or political activism, or anything and everything in between!
Even if you are using social media to grow a following for your business, make sure you’re posting what you want to post.
In fact, authenticity on social media is what tends to make an account stand out!
Post what’s on your heart, and your people will find you.
On that note…
Don’t Post What You Don’t Want!
You are not obligated to post anything, ever.
Ask yourself why you’re posting what you’re posting, and re-evaluate your decisions accordingly.
Try not to post anything out of guilt.
Ignore those ridiculous “if you really care about ____, you’ll share this” chains.
It is not your responsibility to curate an account full of world-changing posts.
Oftentimes, people feel guilt-tripped into “signal boosting” things, or sharing political posts to make it clear where they stand on an important issue.
But most of us are just preaching to the choir, in those cases.
Does adding that post to your Story really benefit anyone, or are you being led by your ego and trying to look cool and knowledgable about a certain topic?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself about to post something political, when I realized most of my friends and followers already agreed with me, and the ones that didn’t wouldn’t be swayed by my ranting.
Once I realized I wasn’t actually adding anything to the conversation, I deleted my draft and got on with my day.
Know When to Log Off
Don’t worry, the news isn’t going anywhere.
Reading post after post about how utterly screwed we are as a particular minority group, or a country, or a species as a whole is not doing any of us any good.
Take a breath, and take a break.
Yeah, it’s important to stay informed, but don’t keep reading alarming posts, or you might find yourself spiraling into fear and hopelessness.
Of course, it isn’t just bad news that might necessitate a social media break.
Social Media Moderation
If you find yourself aimlessly scrolling instead of tending to your own needs and/or responsibilities, you might need to turn your phone off to avoid the temptation.
I’m particularly struggling in this area of social media usage.
Social media addiction can be a tough one to break, but there are ways to hold yourself accountable:
- Set time limits on your apps. Many phones and computers have built-in ways to limit screen time on certain apps, just go into your system settings and search for parental controls–Hey, sometimes you’ve gotta be your own parent! Or, use another app to manage your time spent on social media, like AppBlock for Android.
- Tell your friends you want to limit your social media use. Ask them to text you directly if they have something important to say, rather than use DMs on social media. You can even ask them to check in with you periodically to ask how you’re doing with your social media usage.
- Try No Social Media Monday. Or, you know, whatever day would work best for you. Pick a day of the week to not use social media at all (unless it’s necessary for work). I am going to be trying this, myself. Maybe I’ll do another post on it if it goes well.
Setting Social Media Boundaries With Others
You don’t have to respond to that DM right away. (Or at all, really.)
You’re under no obligation to view, like, share, or comment on anyone’s posts – even if they’re friends, family, or coworkers.
Setting boundaries on social media can also look like directly informing someone of your boundaries.
Here are some examples of things you might say to establish social media boundaries:
- “I don’t do video chats.”
- “Please don’t tag me in your posts.”
- “Don’t repost my artwork.”
- “Feel free to message me, but know that I might not respond right away.”
- “Please don’t start arguments in the comments of my posts.”
- “Please ask me before tagging me in any photos.”
- “I don’t want to see posts about _____, please stop sharing them with me.”
I’ve seen a lot of people on Tumblr make posts about their personal life and tag it something like “#don’t reblog”, indicating that they just wanted to vent and don’t want their posts to be seen outside of their follower circle.
But, sometimes, despite your communication, people won’t respect your boundaries.
That’s when we break out the handy dandy “block” button! 🙂
A lack of respect for your boundaries is a clear signal to block someone.
But you don’t only have to block people when they disrespect your boundaries!
The second I see someone bullying someone else in the comments of a post, I block them.
Sure, we might not have been following each other, anyway, but I don’t even want to have the possibility of seeing their toxicity again.
Decide what kind of behavior you will not tolerate on social media, and apply the block button liberally.
Need a break from someone, but don’t want to block them entirely?
Most social media sites give you the option to temporarily stop seeing posts from someone you follow or are friends with.
- Facebook: How to temporarily “snooze” or “unfollow” someone on Facebook
- Instagram: How to temporarily “mute” someone on Instagram
- Twitter: How to temporarily “mute” someone on Twitter
On Discord, you can “mute” entire servers or channels within those servers. Here’s how to do that.
Set your account to private if you want and/or need to.
Sometimes, this is what’s best for your own safety.
The internet is still a scary place, and a lot of us share more personal info than we maybe should.
Another benefit of making your accounts private is it takes away some of the pressure to try to look Cool online.
If you know your posts can be seen by anyone, you might stress over making sure you’re perceived the Right Way.
Or, fall into the trap of constantly seeking your five seconds of fame.
Is it really worth risking your safety to have a TikTok go viral?
Determining Social Media Boundaries: Is It Adding to Your Life?
Social media shouldn’t be a drain.
Ask yourself: is your experience on social media adding to your life, or taking away from it?
The answer might differ from platform to platform.
I get a definite benefit from Discord, because I’ve found a few really good communities there and they meet a need that hasn’t been met anywhere else.
Tumblr, despite all its chaos, has been a great source of humor and mindless entertainment, now that I’ve learned to be more careful about who I follow.
But Twitter, I realized, has never actually given me anything worthwhile.
Delete, Delete, Delete
If it’s not serving you at all, consider deleting the account entirely.
I did this with Twitter when I realized I wasn’t actually getting anything good out of it.
There’s a strange burst of freedom that comes from deleting a social media account that’s no longer serving you.
Whatever social media you use, I hope you use it as a tool for connection, growth, and entertainment, and drop anything that doesn’t add value to your life.
Setting boundaries is an essential part of self care. Here are some other tips for honoring your needs.
What social media boundaries do you have in place for yourself already? Do you think you’ll implement any others? Share your thoughts in the comments below! ⬇️⬇️⬇️