Have you ever decided you needed more positivity in your life, so you go through your social media accounts and purge anyone whose posts read as antagonistic, depressing, or negative in any way? Maybe you also dropped that friend who was always angry, or who never wanted to go out with you? If you’ve never done this, I guarantee you know someone who has. Deleting or ghosting people with negative vibes has become a really popular way of embracing positivity. Problem is, it’s actually one of the most unhealthy things you can do.
You’re Probably Doing Positivity All Wrong
Several studies have shown that social media may contribute to depression, which has led many people to conclude that quitting social media–even for just a few days–can improve mental health. I recently saw a “quitting social media” declaration by a Facebook friend (there’s always a declaration) who claimed the purpose was to “get away from negativity.” Ironically, in the comments, several people suggested she merely unfollow the negative people so that their posts don’t show up on her feed anymore, and she responded that she already had, but it wasn’t working. Hence, quitting social media. Quitting social media probably will invite more positive feelings in her life, but for quite the opposite reason she thinks–and that’s also exactly why unfollowing all those “negative” people didn’t help.
Social Media Isn’t Harmful Because Of Negative People
When you read the hypothesis on why social media is bad for our self-esteem and our mood, it’s not because it brings us in contact with too many negative people. In fact, over and over again we read that social media is bad for us because most people use to flaunt their positive experiences. But people aren’t actually that happy. So when we look at these smiling photos and exciting experiences, and (of course) compare our own normal, imperfect lives to them, we fall short. We feel that we are too negative, too boring, too depressed–even though that person’s feed is really just a “best foot forward” mirage.
When people have the courage to publicly admit to struggling, needing help, or feeling angry it demonstrates a more rounded version of reality. It may not be extremely helpful to have your newsfeed set to show you five different versions of “Tragedy Media Outlet” 24/7, but having actual people on your feed who are willing to show their “negative” sides is actually really positive. It helps you recognize your own bad moods as normal, and keeps you from getting swamped by all the uber-happy posts everyone else is showcasing.
Getting Rid Of Friends Who Are Angry Or Sad Kind Of Makes You A Bad Person
If you dump a friend who is struggling–even if that person has been struggling for a really long time–then you’re kind of a horrible person. People like to justify these actions by saying, “this is my one and only life, I need to surround myself with positivity,” but that is actually incredibly selfish. Humans are a social species and we rely upon each other. If you’re the kind of person to walk away from a friend in need, then you absolutely cannot expect anyone to be around when you’re in need, either. I think it’s ironic that these positivity-chasers believe they can cause harm to people who need help and still be surrounded by “good vibes” forever.
It’s also important to remember that literally no one on this planet can avoid suffering. As the Buddha says, life is suffering. The notion that it’s possible to surround oneself with only positive energies is delusional. Delusions are, by nature, unhealthy. Once you finally get hit with that truth-bomb, it’s crushing. Not to mention, if you have such a pathological drive to purge all semblance of negativity in favor of what looks like positivity, then you are very likely hiding from some big, bad emotions–which means you need to address them asap, not push them away or hide them behind a dancing hippy.
Healthy Isn’t A Custom-Made Reality
Look, I’m not winning any Miss Positivity awards. If you follow my blog or writing at all, you know I have PTSD, depression, and a history of drug addiction. My upcoming birthday is also the anniversary of a near-fatal suicidal attempt. I’m the kind of person who would title a post “you’re doing positivity all wrong.” I’m not the first person you’d go to for happiness advice.
But I do know how much it hurts to be cut off, put down, or shunned for suffering. It just doesn’t make sense that true betterment can come by causing innocent people pain. If you’re the type of person to say, “those people don’t matter, this is my life and I need to take care of me,” about people who have done you no intentional or direct harm and simply need help, then you’re not actually very positive, are you?
Building a custom-made reality is the not the answer. The wall you build between yourself and the suffering of life will inevitably break. When that happens, you’re going to be caught tender-skinned and frantic in a world you do not have the tools–or allies–needed to navigate. On the other hand, if you show people care and respect when they are in need, you’re more likely to have someone at your side when you are in need. So next time you want to invite positivity into your life, try practicing compassion, rather than trying to construct a fake reality that only includes the happy and prosperous.
The Worst Social Media Is…*drumroll please*
Some research has found that quitting–rather than purging–social media does have positive effects on your mental wellbeing. Too much social media use may be linked to depression and suicidal ideation. Ironically, it leads to social disconnect (the key here is heavy social media use, as social media has the ability to connect people when used in moderation). It can prevent people from doing healthy things like going outside or exercising. Finally, it often showcases a false narrative of happy, seemingly-perfect lives that are impossible to match (namely because they aren’t actually real). If you want to quit social media, go for it. It might just do you some good.
If you aren’t ready to quit all social media but think shutting one or two platforms down will do you some good (it will; I’ve done it), consider letting go of Instagram. Last year, Time and several other outlets reported that a study found Instagram ranked highest in negative attributes like depression, anxiety, and bullying. Want to get rid of just one social media account? Think Instagram.
If you’re planning on taking that leap and deleting your Instagram, would you consider doing me on quick favor first? I am trying to win a free tattoo session. Tattoos were a love of mine that dropped when my addiction took over my life. I haven’t been able to come up with the capital needed to buy me some new ink, but my birthday’s coming up right on the heels of this contest and ohhhhhh I’d love to win….so before you shut down Instagram, would you click one last like for me? Help me win the contest riiiiight here 😉
LOOK at this gorgeous ink by @judeletronik, a local Seattle #tattooartist who I just discovered through a friend! Please like this photo; I’ve been craving some new ink for a while. What do you think about self-expression through tattoos? #tattooart #seattletattoo #artisthighlight #queer #queercomminity #queerpride #transartist #artist #giveaway #contest #sealife #blackandwhite #ink #newink #bodyart #bodymodification #artshowcase #likesplease #needlikes