Here’s the Thing…
Over the past few months, since I have been seriously focused on blogging, I have noticed an increase in mindless Instagram scrolling. Not just scrolling through Instagram in general, but specifically landing on blogger’s pages that I admire, look up, aspire to be like, etc.
The longer I scroll, the more I begin envying everything about them.
“I wish I knew how to edit my photos that well.”
“I wish that many people cared about what I have to say.”
“I wish I could pose for pictures like they can.”
This. Is. Not. Healthy.
On one hand, it seems kind of like, duh. Obviously, it’s not healthy, but I think we underestimate how easily we can get sucked in and how truly harmful it can become.
The Root of my Scrolling
It’s always the same situation: I will be working on a blog post, or an Instagram post, or just trying to figure out something about blogging in general. So, I will hop over to an Instagram feed that has inspired me in the past, with the intentions of looking at what other successful people have done, just to get some ideas.
(Sidebar: I do not think there is anything wrong with observing what other people are doing because, to me, it’s one of the most effective ways to learn. I’m not saying to completely mimic what they are doing, but if they are doing something well, it can be worth noting their methods.)
However, sometimes when I just hop over to an Instagrammer’s profile to look at something simple like how they wrote their bio or how they utilize hashtags, I end up staying for way wayyyy waaaaaaay too long. It doesn’t take too much time before I get lost in their feed and start majorly comparing myself.
“If I took better pictures I would get more likes.”
“If only I had more followers I would be more successful.”
“If I wrote better captions people would engage more.”
Besides the whole comparing issue, I think another problem with this is that I am working towards constantly trying to learn more and better utilize Instagram. It’s not like I am just sitting around waiting for things to happen.
I do my best to take and edit good quality photos.
I am trying to grow an organic following so I can have a genuine platform to connect with people on.
I spend lots of time crafting captions that I feel are engaging.
The problem is, when I am on other people’s Instagrams, they seem to just be doing it so much better.
The whole thing is really quite an oxymoron.
If my goal is to work hard and build my brand, then I really shouldn’t be wasting precious time comparing myself to others.
Yes, I can check out what so and so is doing about this or that. But then I should leave the page and work on it myself.
Scrolling and scrolling and comparing is not going to get me any closer to my goals. In fact, it is setting me back because each moment that I am ogling over someone else’s photo, is another moment that I am not working towards my potential.
As a blogger, there is always more to do. It’s not just about writing and publishing posts. It’s about website design, branding, SEO, social media, email lists, etc etc etc. So, truly, I do not even have time to be mindlessly scrolling! There is always something better I can be doing with my time.
Something I am well-aware of is that the feeds I get lost in are just normal people. They are not celebrities. They are not famous. They are just normal people, living their normals lives, who happen to have built a following of people who are genuinely interested in what they are doing and the things they have to say.
I know that, at the core, I am just like them: a normal person, doing normal things, that hopes to help people in some way.
I think the especially sad part about all of this is that even though I know their lives and the struggles they are going through, I sometimes wish I was them.
Like, “oh, they are really going through a tough time because of such and such. But I would rather go through that too if it meant I could have the genuine following like they do.”
How ridiculous is that?
I have idolized these people so much, that I have even idolized their struggles.
This has got to stop!
So what do you do when you find yourself three years deep into your favorite blogger’s Instagram feed? Well, I don’t have all the answers because I am a recovering scroller myself. BUT there are some things that I have been intentionally doing to shift the focus from comparison to me and my strengths.
- Recognize when you are on a feed to learn something vs. to aimlessly scroll: This is actually easier than you’d think. If you think you may be scouting out feeds for the wrong reasons, think about if you have a passive or an active mindset. If you are not really absorbing anything, it’s probably a toxic scroll. However, if you know you are actually retaining something of value, it is probably okay. Not all scrolling is bad!
- Limit the amount of time you spend on social media: When I took a step back and realized how much time I was spending on Instagram in general, I knew something had to change. Think about it: if you are spending hours doing something and you wish you were doing it better, but you can’t even try to do it better because you are busy watching other people do it better………and the cycle continues. Each person is different, but I have been super intentional about when I check social media. If I’m feeling down or discouraged, I definitely know to stay away because I am more vulnerable to comparison.
- Turn off your notifications: Awhile back I read this blog post from Blair Blogs about how to slow down and make your days feel longer. One of her suggestions was to turn off phone notifications. At first, I scoffed because the notion of not being notified seemed ridiculous to me. However, I decided to give it a try. I have every notification turned off on my phone except for texts and phone calls. That was two months ago and I do not miss it one bit. It is the most liberating feeling! I don’t have to know who’s liking photos. I don’t have to know who’s commenting. When I’m ready to consume social media, then I will log onto the apps; not just when I receive a notification.
- Don’t check how many likes you get: I used to constantly refresh my photos to see how many likes I had gotten. I would also scroll back and look at how many likes other photos had gotten. Guys, I got to the point, where I would know exactly how many likes each picture got. When a photo didn’t get a lot of likes, I would question what was wrong with the photo. The sad thing is, I only post pictures if I truly care about the photo, so I was essentially basing the photo’s worth on how many likes it received! How freakin’ toxic is that?!? To combat diminishing my photo’s value, I have stopped checking likes altogether. If I get a comment, I will respond to it, and often I will see how many likes the photo has. However, I stopped focusing on numbers alone.
- Know who you are: Piggy-backing off what I mentioned in the previous post, if you stay true to yourself and posting content that you care about and value, then you will have less negative scrolling experiences. When I post a photo, I try to put outside factors aside and determine how I feel about the photo. If it seems forced and unnatural and unlike myself, I probably won’t feel good about posting it, thus inducing a scrolling comparison episode. On the other hand, if I love a photo and do my best to present it in an authentic way, then there is no room for comparison! I am me. You are you. They are them. We are all different and so what feels right will vary from person to person. Remain true to yourself and your values and you are taking a big step in the right direction.
So That’s the Thing…
I am well aware of how extremely easy it is to get lost in the mindless act of scrolling through Instagram. And I am sure many of you have fallen victim to it as well.
But it has got to stop. All of us are so beautifully unique and have so much potential and with every comparing scroll, we are boxing up that potential and trying to be a clone of someone else.
You and I were not meant to be clones. We were meant to embrace who we are and all the wonderful things we have to offer and do our best to use our gifts and talents to make the world a better place.
Because no one ever changed the world by doing something that had already been done.