Navigating Social Media

“The average person spends about five hours a day on their mobile device, which adds up to be 35 hours a week, 6 days a month, and 72 days a year.”

Picture this as a scenario. After years of following the same people on social media and idolizing and applauding their feed, you realize that your goals do not align to theirs anymore. Social media has undoubtedly become a core aspect of our daily lives and how we communicate and educate ourselves on various issues.

Using social media we have been able to connect with people from all across the world, whom we might not have had an opportunity to interact with otherwise. Consciously or not these interactions affect how we view ourselves and have a far reaching impact on our mental health. Before I started my fitness journey majority of the feed across all my social media platforms was food centric.

The images I would be exposed to daily were of the most amazing looking burgers and pizza

slathered in cheese and all sorts of other additives that I didn’t even realize were triggers for my brain to binge. Taking accountability of my goals meant having to perform an introspection of the accounts I follow and how they play into me reaching those goals.

Being a self proclaimed food connoisseur it was imperative that I switched to food accounts that promoted a healthier lifestyle and encouraged me to eat healthier meals. Additionally to my surfeit of food accounts, I followed many plus size body activists, whom promoted loving your body as it is. This is an extremely important message that I stand behind 100%. However many plus size influencers believe that loving your body means you should not want to change it. I have seen posts from leaders in the community proclaiming that before and after weight loss images are toxic.

I do not share that perspective and believe that you love the body you are in enough to want to make it the healthiest version of itself. I have had to take a step back and unfollow accounts that pushed this one sided view and look into accounts that promoted self love and change simultaneously. Right now, I’m in a stage of life where fitness is a top priority for me, I enjoy working out and learning about other people’s journeys. Falling into a similar cycle I found myself following a plethora of accounts based on the concept of “fitspiration”. So many of these accounts brand themselves based on how they look and the lavish lifestyles they lead. I have found that in these spaces perfection is promoted even unknowingly at times. It is fair to say that every community niche online has positive and negative aspects associated with how they portray themselves.

It is not the responsibility of the influencer you follow to take care of your mental health. At the end of the day they are sharing their experiences and it is up to us as consumers to follow along their journey or make the decision to step away. This maybe a bit more complicated when it comes to people we have personal relationships with in real life, but honestly the same concept applies. You can mute or unfollow anyone who isn’t positively serving your growth.

It is important to align yourself with accounts that promote core messages that you can stand behind and are willing to promote. Your social media experience is tailored to your interests so make an effort to follow accounts that positively impact those interests and serve for your improvement and not your detriment. Only you can determine what makes you feel good and what does not.

To be honest there is no metric concerning who you should be following on social media. This is a personal choice, that I believe requires thoughtful introspection about how they affect your mental health and overall wellbeing.

Written by: Lwimba Mufune (Co-founder @ SWEAT)

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