It’s no secret that social media has become a huge part of our everyday lives. Especially as artists, we are constantly using social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok to share our own content as well as see what other creatives are up to.
While social media can be a place full of inspiration, it’s important to remember that it can also impact our mental health in a negative way. For artists and non-artists alike, it paves the path for constantly comparing ourselves to others.
In order to have a more positive relationship with social media, we need to develop healthy social media habits like cutting down screen time and putting a focus on the inspiration of it all instead of likes and follower counts.
As artists, how can we avoid getting down on ourselves and, instead, use social media as a place that fuels positivity and creativity?
First, we need to remember that social media is curated content at its core, which means that plenty of the pictures and videos we are seeing have been edited to look a certain way and fit a specific mold.
Posting is totally different from the outside world—we don’t have a chance to edit our conversations and actions when they’re with real people. From a dancer, singer, or actor’s perspective, there’s more room for error during a live performance… which is perfectly normal! During social media use, we don’t see as many of the errors or grit behind the post simply because it’s a finished product rather than a highlight of the process.
All this being said, there are a few different strategies and tips you can try to make sure you’re using your social media platform for inspiration and connection instead of allowing yourself to fall into the vicious cycle of comparing, contrasting, and feeling like you’re not “good” enough.
Focus on the good
Social media is good! It’s a peek into the lives of other artists AND a chance to engage with them. You can learn about their artistic process, why they create, or how they train which is something that can be so beneficial for performers just starting out as well as seasoned artists.
To keep positivity and connection at the top of your social media experience, find artists who you look up to, or who you’d love to connect with, and follow their pages to see if you can incorporate any tips or tricks from them into your own life. If you’ve found someone who has an incredible tilt, instead of comparing yourself to how flexible they are look for the stretches that they are doing daily and see if you can try them for yourself.
The next time you’re scrolling, make note of what pages have a negative or positive effect on you. The celebrity who posts a ton of selfies you find easy to compare yourself to daily? Maybe take a break from that profile for a bit. To avoid a negative impact on your mood, you’ll want to follow profiles that feed your creative energy and make you happy!
Lastly, look up a few aspirational pages. Maybe it’s a college you want to attend or a dance company you want to audition for. Use these pages’ social media posts to fuel your goals.
Tip: If you find yourself obsessing over the number of likes you are getting in relation to others, you can turn off this feature in your Instagram settings so that you are not seeing so many numbers as you scroll.
Find what’s real
As you’re navigating through the vast landscape of social media, remember that posts, reels, and stories are only a small highlight of someone’s day or process, and many times these pictures or videos are fitting into a specific social media strategy. It’s essential to make sure you’re taking into account the number of filters and edits that are present.
How many times have you re-taken a picture until it was exactly what you wanted to post? That’s okay! But, as you start scrolling through your favorite influencer’s posts, take a step back and think about how many photos they had to go through to get to what you’re seeing today.
Also, try following social media profiles that share more genuine content. We run into self-doubt and negative thinking when we start believing that overly produced content is reality.
Follow diverse profiles
Remember that artists come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds. There is no universal standard of what it takes to be an artist, which is what makes it so wonderful!
Notice if you’re following a certain type. Does your feed only consist of hyper-mobile poses and flexibility or dancers who look the same? On social media sites, there are algorithms that begin to pick up what you’re looking at and showcase more of the same to you. To keep an open mindset, remember that you have the ability to choose what you want to see, and make sure you’re not solely looking at pages that you are prone to compare yourself to.
Take a step back and see if you can unfollow profiles that are no longer serving you—if they are making you feel bad about yourself, you don’t need to be seeing them on a daily basis!
Tip: On Instagram, you can hide profiles that you don’t want to unfollow completely so they appear less in your feed.
Set boundaries and take breaks
Try taking a few days (or more!) off of social media and see how you feel. At the end of the day, Instagram and TikTok will be there even if you decide to step away. So, we encourage you to take as much time as you need. Taking a break may allow you to give yourself space from what everyone else is doing, find what makes you happy in the present moment, and distance yourself from the mentality of posting for likes or followers.
If you don’t want to remove yourself completely, try setting a timer the next time you’re scrolling or plan to schedule a block during your day. That ten-minute scroll can turn into a 2-hour endless dive—we’ve all been there! It’s important to establish boundaries to make sure you’re not spending too much time on your phone.
To set yourself up for a more positive inner narrative, try things like journaling and affirmations. Mel Mah has a great class on investigating your thoughts and learning how to shape a positive mindset.
Last but not least, have fun!
When it comes down to it, social media is an incredible aspect of our lives. Being able to create and publish content while building relationships with others is a wonderful way to stimulate our artistic minds!
Our final thoughts on a healthy relationship with social media are just to have fun with it and make sure you’re not publishing something solely for likes. Remember why you’re posting—because you have something to share and you enjoy it!