Navigating Social Media Burnout
As author Issy Beech writes in her fantastic book How To Be Online And Also Be Happy, “While spending time online can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of our lives, it's also a source of great discontent, addiction and anxiety.”
This sentiment could not be more true in a time where the internet, and in particular social media, feels like it’s become a place of doom scrolling and discontent. Maybe it’s pandemic burnout, maybe I’m getting old, but I’m just finding myself more and more disillusioned by social media.
It has its wonderful moments of course. It’s a haven for me to connect with my community and make friends (especially post-pandemic now that my introvert side has taken over and I’m a hermit). It’s an accessible on-ramp for people to discover my business and for me to market my services and connect with my community. And when I need an escape from reality, it’s a place for funny cat memes and comic relief, maybe even a bit of inspiration too. I love all of these things!
But over the last couple of years, there’s been a shift in the way I feel when I’m on social media. While I enjoy and cherish all the positive things above, I can simultaneously also feel anxiety-ridden and stressed when I’m on social media a lot of the time. It’s weird that you can have a positive and a negative experience with something at the same time, and I don’t quite understand why that is, but it’s definitely happening to me, and maybe it’s happening to you too.
The duality of loving and loathing social media
As a user, I’m feeling more and more overwhelmed and exhausted by what I can only describe as the endless noise of social media. So many things to look at, click on, absorb and form an opinion over. So many new platforms to keep up with. Then there's the way it’s designed to make me feel FOMO when I’m not on it… I can see this happening to myself all the time but I still continue to engage, because despite everything, I like being there and I don’t want to miss anything.
As a brand trying to use social media as a marketing platform, I sometimes feel like I’m playing a game I can’t win. The constant changes and updates feel like they’re putting pressure on creatives to jump through so many hoops just to have our work seen, when we actually just want to focus on the creativity, and then have a safe, positive and nurturing place to share it without the stress of battling an algorithm and having to prove our worth through likes and follows.
That being said, I actually LOVE content creation (I’m an OG DIY blogger after all), and I do make a significant portion of my income creating content for brands, which I enjoy. I couldn’t do a lot of that without social media. It’s created an income stream for so many of us, and it’s no lie when I say that income is what got me through the pandemic.
So I enjoy the content creating part! It’s more the platforms themselves and their “keep up and play our game or you’ll be irrelevant” mentality. I’ve always had a problem with authority 😅 so I think relying on a platform run by a huge corporation that does whatever they want and is just out here trying to get even more rich while the world burns makes me uncomfortable (although one could argue that big corporations run everything so should I just suck it up and deal with it?) As much as social media apps gaslight us into thinking all these updates, tools, filters and new ways to engage are here for our benefit and enjoyment, they’re really just trying to keep us scrolling longer so they can make more money, right? Or am I just a bitter, jaded crafter still mourning the death of Blogspot? RIP miss u bestie 😭
This is the duality of loving and loathing social media. We can simultaneously enjoy it and find it toxic. And reading this back, it’s easy to see how this constant back and forth situation might leave us feeling more burnt out than ever.
I recently surveyed my audience on Instagram to see what they thought about all this, and pretty much everyone who answered me felt exactly the same. There’s a comfort in knowing we’re not alone in what we’re feeling. But what do we do about it?
Ideas on how to reduce social media burnout
I know I need to engage with social media to some extent. I have a business to run, and although social media is just one small part of my overall marketing strategy, it is an important one. I also love my community and I don’t want to lose my direct link to them! So she’s staying for now folks. But ideally I want to find a healthier way to exist on social media, and allow myself the space to exist around it without it burning me out completely. I haven’t quite worked this out yet, so I might update this post again as I navigate my way through. But for now, here are some initial thoughts:
If social media isn’t “it”, what does the ideal space online look like to you? For me it’s not on social media at all. It’s a place where I can share my work, but also simultaneously engage with my audience. It’s a place for creative nerds to geek out over stuff and where no one needs to feed the algorithm monster to have visibility. If I had a place like this, I might use social media differently and with less pressure. I do have my blog and my newsletter, already, but I like the idea of something like Patreon, or Mighty Networks (a similar platform) where I can monetise the work I share, but also give my audience an opportunity to engage and make friends (which isn’t really possible through a newsletter or website).
Put more effort into other platforms. I want to start blogging more! I love writing and sharing in a blog-style format. And I love my email newsletter. It's a lot more effort to create content for these, but focusing more on them from a marketing perspective might take some of the pressure off feeling like I have to be showing up on socials constantly for my marketing, so I can spend less time there.
Better boundaries! This is something I’ve always found hard. I need to be better at being offline. This is a long term journey and how to achieve it looks different for everyone. For me, it’s finding new hobbies to spend my time on, being strict with phone use, not looking at Instagram the minute I wake up (guilty as charged!), and injecting more quiet time into my day, where I just sit there and let my mind wonder without being distracted by a device, or any kind of content, real or online.
De-clutter my digital world. I want to look at all the apps and platforms that I use and trim them right back to only what is relevant and absolutely necessary for my business and life. The rest is just contributing to that noise. I also feel like going back through who I’m following on social media and unfollowing accounts that aren’t filling up my cup might help too.
Pre-plan my content. In all honesty I feel I’m okay with this one, but could always do more. As much as I’m a spontaneous person, I need a bit of structure when it comes to using social media for work. I like to have strategies in place, and pre-plan my content. If I don’t do this, posting feels so haphazard and I find myself spending too much time trying to come up with stuff to post and it becomes overwhelming. Sometimes I’m on point with my scheduling and planning, but when stuff gets busy in the rest of my work life, this can go out the window. I feel like being a bit more diligent with this will free up more time to spend off social media.
- It's okay to love and loathe social media at the same time. It's okay to want to use it to market your business but also feel like it’s wearing down your soul. We're the ones who get to decide what our relationship with it looks like, and we also don’t have to follow the rules either. It’s okay to be an imperfect social media user, I definitely am!
Here’s some recommendations from me and my community on IG, all about this topic. I recommend the books especially - they’re great!
I would love to know your thoughts on this topic - do you find yourself burning out from social media too? And if so, what do you think we need to do to manage it? Leave your thoughts in the comments - I’d love to hear from you. Thank you for reading!
Save this to Pinterest!