Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Hey guys, I want to talk to you about something personal. So, I’m sure we all remember a few weeks ago, last month or so, there was the great Facebook/Instagram outage. It was a Monday, I believe, and it was out for only five hours, but I have to admit something. I run a social media company and that was the best day, maybe all of the year! There is something relieving about not having to worry about social media for five, six hours. And it really, honestly, gave me a little bit of an existential crisis, and I’ll explain to you why. 

I love social media. I love that we can use it to connect with other people. I love that we can use it to meet people that we wouldn’t have met. Otherwise, having grown up in Peru for 15 years of my life, I love it because this is the one way that, even though I live in a whole different continent now, I can still stay connected to a lot of these people. But I also see how it affects my own mental health and the mental health of my employees and the people around me. Literally, I don’t think anybody has been spared — and if you are, please tell us your ways — from the mental health insecurities that social media can cause at times. 

I mean, everybody’s talking about it, or at least if you’re on social media, everybody’s talking about it. But the comparison game, all of…yeah, that’s like the biggest thing, I guess, like the comparison game. The pressure to purchase. I know somebody who had to get off of social media because it was making them, or helping them, become a shopaholic. But I think that that’s where we have to be really, really diligent about protecting ourselves. And so, yes, I still run a social media company, you guys, don’t worry. And we still love using social media for our clients, but I personally, and I tell my team members, too, we have to protect ourselves. 

Social media, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, Instagram…it is not their job to protect us. It is our job to protect ourselves. And so I have done some really different things over the past few years that have really helped me detach myself from social media. And so I wanted to share them with you in case they might be helpful. You may have about a lot of these and I have tried almost everything under the sun and I have finally figured out a way that works for me. So without further ado, let me tell you about a few things that have helped me. 

So one of the first things I did is, in 20, gosh, I don’t know, it was when I was 25, so 2016? You can figure out the math, how old I am now. But 2016, I left a big chapter of my life behind, and in order to create distance and that view, or be tempted to search things about a previous relationship, I deleted my Facebook and my social media, like my Instagram. And it was hard at first, but guys, I felt so much freedom.

The hardest part was that, where I was living, and not everybody lives in a place like this, where I was living people depended on Facebook Events to make plans. And so I had to train my friends to text me about something rather than to assume that I saw it on Facebook. But other than that, I did not miss it. I only finally set up a new Facebook account when I needed to do so for a work gig. And then I knew I would need to keep it for my social media business. And you’re probably wondering like, Julia, you went from having no Facebook to running a social media business. And yes, sometimes I am surprised by myself as well, but I learned so much about my own mental health so that when I did get on Facebook, here’s like the second thing that I did, is I unfollowed everybody.

So yes, I had to set up Facebook for a work gig. But when people would find me, like all of my acquaintances, I had a rule of thumb: I would never go search for anybody to add them. But if people found me, I accepted their friend request and then immediately went to their profile and unfollowed them.

So true confessions, if you’re my friend and you post things on Facebook, I probably am not seeing it. And it’s not because I don’t love you, but it’s because I found that when I would get sucked into my friend’s personal lives, I would get, one, sucked in, just like I said, but then also like, then I would start playing this comparison game. That time in my life, I wasn’t really happy about a lot of things, and so it was really, really, really easy to compare myself to the other people in my life who had lives that I wanted. 

So that was the second thing. The first thing is I took a massive break. The second thing is that when I got back on, I unfollowed people. So obviously you don’t have to do major breaks. I think mine was like a two-year break and I loved every second of it. And you also don’t have to do a massive unfollow of people, but I would recommend that you take small breaks. I have a friend who, for Lent, gave up all social media and it was really, really good for her to realize that she wasn’t attached to it.

I also have instituted where I don’t have it on my personal phone. That was another way of setting up a boundary is, I have a work phone and a personal phone. Thank you, T-Mobile for a free line promotion! But I only have social media on my work phone because I use it for work and then I also have it on my computer.

So I don’t have it on my personal phone except for Pinterest. And Pinterest has been sucking me in lately so I’ll probably have to delete it and take a break soon. But I purposefully, even though I’m not taking long periods of breaks, I’m taking breaks from where I can find it or access it. So my personal phone is just basically an old-fashioned cell phone that has smart features. But I think that that has been super, super helpful. And perhaps you’re not ready to do a massive unfollow of people.

On Instagram, I don’t unfollow people because I do love scrolling through and celebrating my friends and right now my life is in a place where I don’t feel like I’m always comparing myself to others so I don’t feel like that is what’s most harmful to my mental health right now. So I will scroll through Instagram, but every once in a while, and we all have it is, we have somebody who’s posting stuff that is really creating emotion in us, whether it’s anger or envy. Whatever it is, start noticing those emotions.

And if you’re finding that a certain person’s activity is what’s creating that, consider whether one, you can change the tide on your emotions on your own. And if you can’t, consider unfollowing them, even if it is just for a period of time. I think sometimes the best way to take care of our mental health is to deal it face-on, and I think other times it is perfectly acceptable to mute somebody. And whatever is your hot button issue, I think I want to give you permission to mute somebody if you need to. 

Here’s the thing, you guys, is habits like these don’t happen overnight. I just talked with somebody who said to start a new habit and an old habit, it takes 30 days. Some people say 21 days, whatever it is, I don’t really care, but it doesn’t happen overnight. But the way I talk about these habits is kind of like flexing a muscle. You have to exercise to be able to build your muscle. And even these habits and disciplines are like muscles that we get to build.

So consider what is going to be most healthy for you as you relate to social media? Because if you were as relieved as a lot of the people that I talked to that Monday when Facebook shut down, it probably means that we have a problem, you guys. I talked to so many people. Myself, colleagues, other business owners, who just felt this sense of relief.

And if that’s the case, what do we need to do to change how we relate to social media? I really have, I really think that that is something that you have to decide personally. But I would challenge you to notice how you’re feeling when you relate to social media so that you can protect your heart, your head, your soul from any of these challenges that social media could bring up.

I’d love to hear from you. Head on over to our Instagram, if you will, and tell us how you are taking care of yourself as related to social media. There are some really, really cool people out there doing some really, really cool things around social media wellness. And so make sure you check them out as well.

All that to say, you guys, we really hope for the best for you. And while we love social media and what it can do for our businesses and our clients, we also really think that it’s important to protect ourselves and you as people. So be well, my friends. Do hard things, even if it hurts when it comes to social media.