Ask CYOO: Help! I'm burnt out from social media
How can I deal with social media burnout?
Oh, social media. How we love you, hate you, and can’t ever seem to quit you. This question feels extra timely this week with the painful news of Russia invading Ukraine. It can be really hard to stop doomscrolling under the guise of staying informed.
There are many possible factors for burnout but without knowing any specifics, here are some of the top reasons I think we can feel burnt out from social media:
Doomscrolling, as mentioned above—absorbing lots of negative, saddening news and losing motivation or feeling increased anxiety
Comparing ourselves to others—looking at others’ work and thinking we won’t ever be as good, rather than being inspired
Feeling trapped on the content hamster wheel—not satisfied with the quality of content you’re posting, but feeling like you can’t stop and possibly lose engagement or followers
The most effective solution to combating social media burnout is to take a break! Or you can quit outright, especially if this isn’t your livelihood. When we talk about burnout in the context of work this advice is less practical since not many of us can simply quit our jobs, but most of the time we can quit social media. Frankly I think we often trick ourselves into thinking that we need to be available on every platform on the off chance one more person notices us, but often social media is not what’s going to bring you customers, clients, or the specific connections you need to grow. There are other avenues of marketing and self-promotion that may be more effective, such as blogging, email, in-person events, and cold outreach.
The suggestion to take a break sounds plain and simple, but it requires commitment to intentionally consume less. The break may not be perfectly meditative and peaceful—when I went on an Instagram fast a few years ago, the hours I spent watching Youtube went way up. Have forgiveness for yourself and prioritize distancing yourself from the platform that leaves you feeling the most anxious or lethargic.
Now that you’ve exited the dopamine feedback loop by either quitting outright or logging out of your app(s) for a few days, you can start thinking about your motivations of being on social media, and what you would rather be spending your time on. Often as artists and creatives we want to be using our time to create rather than consume, and social media wrecks our best laid plans! At the same time, there is benefit to using social media as an artist for the connections we make and, to be honest, the confidence boost we receive. It’s nice to know we have the ability to inspire, teach, or just make someone’s day with what we share.
From this step, you can decide on whether social media is worth it for you. Do the upsides still happen frequently, or have they decreased over time as the platforms shift and change algorithms? Maybe you’ll decide to leave certain platforms and not others, or delete personal accounts and only have professional accounts. Maybe you’ll stay on the same platforms and decide on a posting schedule, only spending time on the apps on those days. The specifics of execution are less important than setting and reaffirming your intention with social media, and checking in with yourself as you scroll whether you’re sticking to your intention.
Last of all, remember you are not alone in feeling this way! I’m feeling burnt out from social media this week myself— this usually seems to happen after I get an influx of engagement/followers and I feel greater pressure to post the “right things.” I’ve been on Instagram less than usual but my mind still feels frazzled, like it doesn’t have the attention span to read a book or work on a painting. Be gentle with yourself—our minds and bodies deserve rest and time to adjust.
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