When you open up Facebook or Twitter, what do you see? Posts that make you feel connected and happy, loved and supported? Or is it a stream of negativity, with endless memes about how it’s ‘always wine o’clock somewhere’?
Most of us check our social media news feeds several times a day and they can have more impact than we realise. It’s so easy to accidentally surround yourself with messages that can skew your perception and make you feel left out. When I first stopped drinking, social media seemed to increase my sense of isolation. It felt as if everyone else was drinking and having fun.
Despite that experience, I don’t have a downer on social media. In fact nowadays, I kind of love it. I realised that technology is not inherently good or evil; it’s the application that produces positive or negative results.
When used correctly, social media can support you to do big and amazing things like stop drinking. It can lift you up and help you become a better version of yourself. It can connect you with other people in the same situation and give you a place to talk. It can be very liberating to be able to express yourself properly and find your voice.
So if you’re struggling to stay motivated at the moment, make sure you take a closer look at your social media use. Here are 5 strategies for using social media in a way that will support your sobriety:
Unfollow people who are getting you down
In real life, friendships come and go and we make peace with that. It doesn’t have to be any different on social media. If you don’t want to defriend someone, just unfollow them. Your news feed is a bubble that you have complete control over. It should leave you feeling good about the world.
Start adding people who inspire you
It doesn’t just have to be sobriety related stuff. You might feel motivated by food bloggers, fitness writers, health magazines… follow people and organisations that will help you stay on track. If you’re on Instagram, this article has some good tips on sober related hashtags. And The Sober School facebook page is right here.
Consider setting up an alternative profile
There’s nothing to stop you setting up a second account on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest and it can be very freeing to just post whatever you like. Facebook does not let you have two accounts, so if you’re worried about other people seeing the pages and groups you’ve liked, just change your privacy settings.
Every now and then, ask yourself how using social media makes you feel. Sometimes we’re so busy chasing likes, comments, replies and retweets, that we forget the reason we’re using social media in the first place. If something isn’t making you feel good, then consider taking a break or removing the app from your phone. You can always put it back if you change your mind!
When it comes to social media, there are loads of advantages to being sober. You’re much less likely to stalk your ex, post embarrassing status updates or get tagged in photos that you can’t even remember being taken. And long term, you’re more likely to remember that social media is just a glimpse into other people’s lives. It’s a highlight reel, that’s all. By letting go of a habit that’s holding you back, you are well on your way to building a life that looks good on the inside as well as the outside.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
What are your tips for getting the most of out of social media? What’s really worked for you and what might you do differently in future? Let me know in the comments!
Yes! I love this post and I’ve found it to be so true when I gave my Facebook feed a makeover. It also makes you feel *much* less alone in sobriety. When you wake up first thing in the morning and everything you check on Facebook is positive and reinforces what you’re striving to live out, it is a really easy way to make so much progress and feel great about yourself!
Also I use the unfollow button a lot. Means you don’t offend anyone or lose a friend in real life- but if someone is being very negative or not helpful then you can avoid them.
Thanks Ruth. I’m also a big fan of the unfollow button. Sometimes you don’t want to unfriend someone, you just need to hear less from them for a bit! 😉
This was really helpful, especially the advise to follow others that inspire you. Being a problem drinker for the majority of my twenties meant that a lot of my friends are also big drinkers and it can be hard seeing there pics of boozy weekends when I’m trying to make my mind off drinking and aim for something different. I have always been put of off adding sober pages and sites by the thought that this would appear of my friends time lines, but I am going to change my privacy settings and maybe unfollow some friends for a little while X
Giving your Facebook feed a makeover makes a real difference. And you can always change things back if you don’t like it. Go for it!
This blog posting was timely for me. I am newly sober and struggling with isolation and lack of community in my new city. Facebook was exacerbating the loneliness. It isn’t a great substitute for real connection. I’ve been trying to cut out negative influences and find myself more engaged in sobriety blogs and chat rooms right now. I decided to deactivate my Facebook account for awhile and see how I feel.
Anyways, that was a bit of a babble. Thank you for sharing, Kate.
Thanks Jennifer. The great thing is that you realised the effect Facebook was having. It will be interesting to see how you feel after a bit of a break. Good luck!
I had to cull a few of my drinking buddies. A bit harsh but not one ever did anything with me except drink.
So I set up a new account, set my privacy settings to friends only and changed my online behaviour.
It’s amazing how funny you aren’t when you drink. I can’t think about the amount of inappropriate comments I made on Facebook when I had a few glasses.
You can delete them the next day but the damage is usually done by them.
I think I am being a lot more professional and grown up on social media now.
I also told everyone I’m having a break from booze. That way it won’t be such a surprise to them when we meet up.
No one was that bothered. Turns out the world doesn’t revolve around me after all!
this post is awesome. All of it is so true. I also use the “unfollow” option on facebook a LOT, especially to stop seeing all the negative posts about needing alcohol to cope with having kids!! Also the people who promote drinking like it’s a “passion” or an “interest” yeah those posts have no place in my world of social media any longer. One thing I’d like to hear from people is some pages or people to follow that are similiar to the Sober School. I have found that many of the sober pages I have followed are too extreme for me, either posting stuff that’s too much information or posting 50 times/day.. let me know if you have any suggestions! I like health pages too and running pages
This post could not have come at a better time. I actually just deactivated my FB account and started a different one for this very reason. I couldn’t stare at pictures of my “friends” out having a good time with drinks in their hands. I just couldn’t. I’m so glad others can relate.