And nip those nasty internet habits in the bud.
Only a few weeks ago, in the midst of working at home thanks to the pandemic, the thought popped into my head that the jobs both myself and my boyfriend have didn’t exist when we were born. And what we have to thank for that is the internet, the wonderful world wide web that we often take for granted. It allows us to find a gorgeous recipe to cook for date night, lets us order an equally delicious (or even more so) pair of studded, open-toed sandals that we reached for all summer long, and is the main source of income for many, many people around the world. On top of that, it allows us to educate ourselves more and more each day, discover new places and even strike up friendships and relationships that may never have happened if it weren’t for a bit of screen time.
But, along with all of these fabulous things, the internet can be a dark, negative, and very upsetting place. One thing that we could all do with is less negativity in our lives, but without putting ourselves in a bubble, away from everything that’s actually happening in the world around us.
We all know the results of spending time with a negative person. You know them, the kind that always finds the worst parts of a situation, who focuses on the worst parts of our daily lives, whose glass is basically almost empty, rather than half full.
Frankly, they’re exhausting, and their negative feelings can spread as easily as real butter on warm toast.
So while we know the effects they can have on you when you spend time with them in real life, it’s safe to assume that the same goes for ‘spending time’ with them online.
Ireland seems to have a bit of a problem lately with trolling. Influencers are reporting even more vile messages than usual, some are being targeted in real life, and more are being dissected on horrible message boards set up just to breed negativity because online personalities date to “put themselves out there”.
Of course, it’s not possible to live in a happy, feel-good movie where everything is sparkles, with rainbows and slow-mo running through a field of flowers and a flower crown placed on top of your head. We need to know what’s happening in the world, but we don’t need to constantly look through a negative lens online.
With all this in mind, and because it’s not always feasible to completely log off from the online world, here are the small steps you can take to avoid inviting even more negativity to you through your phone, without wrapping yourself in bubble wrap and steering clear of the real world.
Let’s face it, there can be a bit of politics when it comes to what you do online. For example, you can’t exactly unfollow your husband’s annoying cousin on Instagram, especially when she might even bring it up at the next family gathering. So, now is your time to take advantage of the mute button. Of course, if you’re feeling rather cutthroat, you can blatantly unfollow them and never look back. But, the secret to avoiding certain people and topics online, as well as those awkward conversations if they find out you’ve unfollowed them, is the glorious mute button. You can mute and unmute certain people you follow, without them ever knowing. If what they’re sharing isn’t floating your boat, bringing some negative vibes down on your parade, it’s time to say bye, Felica. Or indeed, shh, Felica.
This also works for certain words and hashtags on Twitter. Twitter can be a sea of gas memes and equally gas, sarcastic jokes, but it’s also the go-to place for people to revel in their own opinions – and of course, a LOT of those opinions can be negative, and even worse. If you go into your Twitter settings, you can block certain words, people’s names, and events in a matter of seconds. So, if you feel like the opinions of a certain author of a fictional wizard’s school upsets you, it’s time to block that name from your Twitter timeline so you don’t have to see it pop up time and time again.
We all know it’s much easier said than done, but try your best not to compare yourself to what you see online. Even if what you’re looking at isn’t actually a negative post, like Karen from college completing her 5k while you’re still sitting on the couch after promising you’d start Couch to 5k two weeks ago. Or Yvonne from finance posting boomerangs of bottles of Moet celebrating her one year anniversary. Once you start to compare yourself to anything online in a negative way, you’re going to feel the results of that almost immediately. Particularly if you’re having a worse Tuesday than usual, opening Instagram and seeing every Tom, Dick and Sally having the time of their lives, from promotions to proposals, can make you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.
According to researchers at the University of Strathclyde, Ohio University and the University of Iowa, when people compare themselves and their lives to what they see online, it chips away at their self-esteem and weighs them down emotionally. Basically, comparing yourself to what you see online opens yourself up to a whole lot of negativity that you really don’t need (or want, whatsoever) in your life.
Granted, those ‘who unfollowed you’ apps aren’t as popular as Instagram or TikTok, but you’d be surprised at how many people download these kinds of apps each day. I can put my hands up and include myself in that, initially out of sheer nosiness. But really, nothing, and I mean nothing, good can come out of apps like this. They only allow you to get stuck in a dangerous circle of checking who has unfollowed you, then wondering why certain people did, and what they think of you. Which, lets’ face it, will only make you feel downright shit about yourself.
So rather than focusing on your ex-colleague who decided to hit unfollow and letting that negativity bring down your mood (even if it is only for about ten seconds), just delete that app off your home screen and thank us later, because you really don’t need to know who’s unfollowing you. It’s true what they say, ignorance really is bliss.
It really helps to just put your phone away and switch off from the world sometimes too. Think of it as a bit of self-care, because it isn’t only facemasks and bubble baths that we need from time to time. Honestly, there’s enough negativity in our day to day lives as it is, whether it’s the news on the radio in the mornings, those sordid stories retweeted on to our timelines, or the actions of others that we’ll never get our heads around.
So taking even one step to try to make your online spaces a more positive place can ultimately boost your mood, rather than bringing you down.