Empowerment Blogging

Social Media Detox

social media burnout
I want to share and create, but I don’t want to go back to endless scrolling, meaningless likes and random comments just to be polite or gain random followers.

If you have a business you know that being on social media is almost a staple in today’s technology dependent world. Sharing a product in a storefront for example might get local sales, but social media can push that product beyond the store window and even take it global. Gaining new followers to a business, marketing to the masses and find ways to grow support becomes almost addictive.

As a 15 year solopreneur I have used connections on social media to network, gain clients and grow my income. During the pandemic social media especially helped me. I was able to work virtually with brands and to make a much needed income posting online since I couldn’t represent brands in person. It seemed like putting more time into social media was just what I needed in my down time from in person events and work.

During the summer of 2020 I pushed hard to post daily, make creative stories and dabble in reels. I felt I was developing a support system too of like minded people. Most of these people called themselves creators and push to make an income from creating content for brands in exchange for free/gifted products, discounts, a percent of sales from the promoted products or a direct payout for the content.

The Positive to Negative Shift with Instafriends

After a few months of doing collaborations some people that had followed me since I started my Instagram account in 2016 were sending me DMs telling me they couldn’t support me any more or wouldn’t be following me since I was now making an income from my account. It turns out all those people that claim to be friends get jealous real quick when they see someone else being given something they aren’t. I even had people ask me why should I be, “gifted”, something if they weren’t. The shift from positive to negative comes quickly and no one considers the work that may have went into getting those brand collabs or the networking it took to develop those connections.

The attitude of people that claim to be friends on social media, the jealousy, the amount of people that have bought followers growing to a 10k swipe up quickly, issues with the algorithm and fake accounts are some of the things that started to make me really dislike Instagram. I finally got to the point where getting onto the app felt like a chore. Even though I had content to create for brands and needed a certain interaction to get paid and attract more brands my heart wasn’t into creating the content or posting.

The Ugly Quest for 10k

During the rise in activity on social media from many people being home in 2020 I saw so many new accounts grow astronomically. Straight out of Fake Famous, many however many were growing in a way I knew was linked to buying followers. I made it my mission to figure out what these accounts were doing and was it really working.

I found some were growing by putting money into participating in loop giveaways as they invited me to participate as well. A loop giveaway is where a larger accounts post a chance to win a prize and everyone that pays in is tagged. All participants that want to win the prize have to follow everyone tagged to be eligible to win the prize. I participated in a small giveaway to try it out and out of the 200 people I gained I found they didn’t interact and were worthless to my account.

My money was wasted on what was claimed to be organic growth and a way to get exposure to new accounts. I reminded myself the accounts gained wouldn’t have followed without being dangled a chance to win a prize. They weren’t really interested in my content. Most people gained in loops likely won’t stay around and if they do won’t be active. I deleted those gained off my account and considered it a learning experience.

To keep accounts looking active I found some participated in hashtag pods. In hashtag pods, people will interact with you as long as you are interact with them. The same is for groups where a select grouping of people agree to like/comment on each other’s content to boost rank in the algorithm. It’s a trade of numbers and no one is probably really interested in your business.

I tried out connecting with people in my niche and networking this way and found it a constant cycle and time consuming. It wasn’t boosting me in the algorithm either. Then I started receiving DMs to directly buy followers, likes and comments. This was where I drew the line and wouldn’t participate.

The answer was clear and it seemed the days of creating content, posting, using relevant hashtags and having it shown to others without a lot of forced effort is gone. Changes in the Instagram algorithm for example caused most content to be shown to only about 5% of followers. I could understand why people would try out ways to gain followers and grow, but spending half a day liking on a hashtag or group content to grow an account isn’t for me.

I found people doing crazy things to having an account with the infamous 10k and beyond. I’ve seen accounts grow by 5k in a few days and with a high amount of followers. I’ve seen some accounts with a low amount of people liking and commenting yet 12k in followers. To me it is obvious their account is full of bought followers and they are cheating, yet people praise them for the numbers on the account. Big brands aren’t as easily fooled, but smaller companies are still dishing out money for people with fraudulent numbers.

In the quest for 10k and above people are spending large amounts of time on the app to boost their numbers and be ranked higher in the algorithm. A lot of unfavorable things have come out in the news about Instagram recently. Information has even been leaked by people that work at Meta (Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp), that suggested the app favors people that stay on it and creators that help facilitate keeping people on the app. Instagram of course claims these accusations to be false.

Instagram also, claims shadowbans don’t exist and I can speak from my own experiences that Instagram does seem to block content from being seen if it is supporting certain political affiliations or topics they flag as being controversial. I have seen analytics for example where a post has only reached 20 people when the account has over 6.5k in followers. This is a form of censorship and everyone seems to sweep it under the rug and think it is ok.

How I Went Wrong on Social Media

For me I always try to be as transparent as I can on social media and not portray a perfect life. I want to share the good and the bad. I had shared during the past year about personal trauma and assault. I had shared how I had three deaths in our family this year, about the loss of my dog of 14 years, the death of a kitten I raised since 3 days old and the passing of my handicap bunny. Being transparent wasn’t a good idea though nor was reading people’s shallow comments. I received ugly DMs from followers claiming I’d shared this type of personal information to gain more followers for example. I even had someone I was friends with in real life unfollow and stop talking to me because I’d told something on social media she didn’t know.

All these things started to add up and I quickly got to a point where I was tired of sharing on social media. Looking back I made the mistake of oversharing on social media to the wrong people. I found that most of my followers were only happy with cute quotes, pictures of my closet, clothes and travel. This wasn’t the direction I wanted to take my account as I had hoped by sharing my story it could help someone else.

Another thing that started to bother me was I had people on my followers list I hadn’t talked to in person in 15 years. I had no idea why they were following me or watching every story I posted. I started to look more at this and found the amount of nosey people astounding. These accounts were not supportive as they didn’t save, share, like or comment on my posts. These accounts were frustrating to me and no different than a ghost follower.

For me I started out following people that inspired me, brands I enjoyed and accounts that made me laugh/smile. Looking back another mistake I made on social media was when I started trying to follow instagram etiquette and follow back all those that followed me. Doing this I created a feed I didn’t really enjoy.

The same went for always trying to like back photos from those that had liked on something of mine. Often times I’d find myself trying to be polite and liking on a photo I otherwise wouldn’t have out of a feeling of obligation. Having a feed full of photoshopped randomness with women even geotagging places they weren’t even near and doing everything the could to project a perfect life becomes too much to scroll past.

I became so fed up with the fake that seemed to make up much of social media and found myself not enjoying time on it at all. The week of Thanksgiving, I had just attended the funeral of the third person to die that year in my family and I finally decided to delete the app and go a few days without social media. My intentions were to getting back on and share thanksgiving posts, but the more I thought about it the more anxiety I felt about actually getting back on it. When I did get back on after Thanksgiving it didnt make me happy to post and I knew I needed to take a serious step back.

My Social Media Detox

As December approached I wrote emails to brands that had offered to collaborate with me, offering to send back products and declining new collaborations explaining I was at a point in my personal life where I needed to step back from social media. I was a bit worried if I was making the correct decision when I was literally taking money away from myself. Many of the brands were understanding and didn’t expect products to be returned. For those that haven’t participated in brand collaborations some brands have strict posting guidelines and even contracts with creators.

As for my large friends list, out of all the people that professed to enjoy and like me on social media only a handful reached out via my email to see if I was ok or to ask what was going on. Not many returned the sentiment I gave when I saw someone disappear for a bit. Some followers begin to unfollow when I wasn’t active. This further pushed my feelings of social media burnout and made me question if I wanted to ever get back on. All the people that never showed support I started to considered ghost followers. They definitely weren’t helping my account in anyway. Some would see it as account suicide, but I took a hard look at this and removed many of these followers by the 100s.

As Christmas approached I really was perplexed about my choice. I wanted to wish greetings to those that I enjoyed and to show everyone despite not posting daily I was enjoying my life. On Christmas Eve I used my Facebook to be able to create Instagram stories without getting on the Instagram app. Doing this I didn’t have to see my feed or have the anxiety of reading pointless DMs or returning expected likes and comments.

Though I have been absent on Instagram for the majority of December and January I maintained keeping down my thoughts and sharing on my blog. I love blogging and always have enjoyed putting my thoughts and ideas in writing. I wish I felt excited about social media as I once did. My background is marketing and I really liked learning more about social media marketing and making a side income. Creating content, posting daily and keeping up with everyone though was costing me my inner peace and making me feel anxious about things I didn’t need to.

Social Media Burnout is Real

I have read several articles by creators that felt similar feelings towards social media and became burned out. None of the articles I’ve read seemed to have found a happy medium between sharing on social media and the anxiety it can bring. No one really seemed to have found the key to a balance. I hope that in sharing my social media detox story it helps others realize they aren’t alone in feeling burned out from social media. In today’s fast paced world I think it’s important to step back and to force a slow down. I know what some of my mistakes have been on social media and what caused me to feel burned out.

In my absence of posting to Instagram or TikTok and sharing to Facebook or YouTube my life still went on. I traveled, ate fun foods, tried new things and captured photos and videos even though I wasn’t sharing the media I was taking on the journey with people on my friend’s list. In my absence I felt a weight off my shoulders. I wasn’t preoccupied with what brand collaboration I needed to create for or how much money I could make if I got more views on a reel. Instead I focused more on being present with my family and friends. I posted meaningful content on my blog and pinned things to Pinterest. I didn’t have anxiety online because I knew I wasn’t going to have to field a discussion over my posts, worry about likes and comments or keeping up interactions.

Life After Social Media Burnout

During my detox and absence from social media I realized that a certain aspect of my business’s networking depends on social media, but found other outlets to network and grow. In my time away detoxing from social media I am glad I could identify some of the mistakes I’ve made on social media. Leaving social media honestly was a great thing for my mental health and if you’re considering taking a break yourself I suggest it.

If you’ve experienced social media burn out you are not alone. I wish I had the answers, but I am still not 100% sure how to utilize social media and not drain myself except to have boundaries. The constant demand of creating content and then having it scrutinized by others is what took its toll and why I needed to detox from it. Seeing so much fake daily also, started to aggravate me.

Looking at my own goals I know I want to share and create, but I don’t want to ever go back to endless scrolling, meaningless likes and random comments just to be polite or gain random followers. I want to keep it real and I am always open to your thoughts. You’re welcome to stop by and say hi to me (@thevirginiahypegirl) as I find a balance. Setting boundaries in my work life and on social media is part of my quest in this new year.

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