I used to take social media so seriously, pining for likes.

Still do sometimes.

I stress myself out overanalysing why someone else got more followers than me on Instagram.

She has how many?

Doing that?

What does a guy have to do to get followers and likes these days?

And then I laugh.

Why am I allowing a social network to show me my artistic self-worth?

What is going on?

It’s easy to get all hung up on the ‘rules of success’ social media has created for us.

We use these made up benchmarks of likes, follows and comments to compare ourselves with others in meaningless ways.

A like for one person next to someone else of equal or even superior talent being ignored.

Yes, social media is useful, and that is why I choose to use it.

But I know that by entering into this world, I cannot allow myself to take seriously the hollow parameters set by corporate committees to make us more hooked; more addicted.

Social media is like the Internet. And, in a way, the Internet is like life. We can make good of it, or we can allow it to beat us down and consume us.

In the end, we have a choice.

We can choose to use it creatively, or we can use it reactively.

We can see it as a source of inspiration or unhealthy comparison.

We can use it to propel our careers, or confirm our ‘inadequacies.’

At its core, social media is nothing more than a means to connect with others — it is a way for electrons to smack into each other so that we can send information to one another.

There is no way it can define who you are as a person.

It is a toy at best.

Many won’t see this or grasp this, but it is true. You can’t base your sense of success on some stupid algorithms and pixels.

You need to see past that. You have to focus on using it in a way that brings you joy or true benefit, but you have to know your limit. There is always a limit.

That point of no return, where you are no longer using social media: it is using you.

When your mood is dwindling from using it, you’re past that point.

Shut it off.

When you find yourself on the scrolling carousel of endless wonder — you’re well gone.

If social media is affecting you, it is better to switch it off and go without exposure than for it to affect your confidence — at least for a while.

You must always have the sense that you are on top of it.

Ultimately it is you who is responsible for your focus and your well-being. Just because we live the in the age of Facebook doesn’t mean that we can’t be productive and happy.

You have the freedom to use it if you want.

But you have the power to turn it off.

You can use it for creation and positive connection, rather than emotional reaction and rumination.

If we feel like social media is eating us alive, it’s time to peel back or shut down.

If we choose to play this game, we must treat it as exactly that — a game.

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