It’s no secret that times are tough. It’s also no secret that social media can very often negatively affect your mental health. Marry the two together and what do you get? The self-isolation from hell.
I work in digital media and therefore spend 90% of my life on blogs and Instagram, so I have built up pretty thick skin when it comes to keeping up with the Joneses. But with the entire world staying home, social media has now become a 24 hour diary for many, and is an entirely different ballgame to grapple with.
First it was the person who lives on the Palm and can have the sand between their toes at any given moment, whilst the beach is but a distant memory for me. Then it was the PT who set up an fully functioning gym in his back garden, whilst my workouts have been reduced to a 5 x 5 meter square in my living room. Then it was the couple who live in Arabian Ranches and have their own private pool to luxuriate in, whilst I don’t even have a freakin’ bathtub. It’s enough to give anyone a complex. Instagram had become a highlight reel on steroids.
Accounts that used to be my favourites to follow now just breed feelings of melancholy. It's eerie to resent your friends for doing so well in self-isolation, and it’s perverse to wish ill upon people when you know you don’t even have it half as bad as others out there.
I know I’d feel morose if I watch their stories, but for some reason I can never resist the slightly shameful urge to pore over (what I deemed to be) their perfectly non-quarantined lives. Like when you have a bruise and you know it hurts to touch it, but that only makes you poke it more. I was a social media masochist.
Perhaps I needed to take a Marie Kondo approach and make like Beyonce and Adele, who are both following zero people on Instagram? No. Too drastic. I didn’t want to go as far as removing these people forever (I am still very much of the opinion that to unfollow is tantamount to a public slap in the face). I needed an in-between.
It benefits almost no one to maintain these online ties. So eventually, after mentally beating myself up for a few days, I pulled out my phone and thumbed to various peoples’ Instagram accounts, crowded with stories of their massive houses and huge gardens, and, with a sense of liberation, I hit mute.
Ahhh, mute. The heaven’s sent button that allows me to preserve IRL relationships and take care of my mental health at the same time.
It’s not forever. Heck, knowing me it probably won’t even last a week, but I took comfort in knowing that I wouldn’t be accidentally antagonized when tapping through Instagram tomorrow morning.
Looks like ignorance really is bliss.