The Confident Girl’s Guide to Social Media-ing

The Confident Girl's Guide to Social Media-ing

Social media is such a two-sided coin. Personally, I’ve always loved it! Back in the myspace days, my friends and I used to go out and do little photoshoots for our profile pictures. We’d delight in our deep fifteen-year-old captions like “Behind Blue Eyes,” for an angsty up-close shot of our Maybelline-rimmed peepers. Oh, myspace! I miss the personalized wallpaper and profile songs a little…

Anyway, I have always been a fan of social media and probably always will be. But like all relationships, it’s one that must be maintained and kept healthy. Here are a few rules I like to live by:

The Confident Girl's Guide to Social Media-ing

1. Don’t Lurk When You’re in a Bad Mood

I’m sure many of you have read the Steven Furtick quote, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” I remember how much this quote helped me when I first saw it a couple years ago. I loved the animated little pearl of wisdom.  

The reason I advise steering clear of Facebook, insta, etc., when you’re in a bad mood is that it’s easier to get jealous or judgemental. You may realize on a mental level that you’re comparing your behind-the-scenes to other people’s highlight reels, but your negative emotions can overrule this knowledge. This chart demonstrates a couple examples:

PostMe lurking in a bad moodMe lurking in a good mood
Someone finished their master’s degree.“Ugh I wish I could go back to school. Gaining new knowledge and postponing ‘the real world’ for another few years would have been so chill.” “Wow look at so’n’so killin it! She deserves it; she's always worked so hard!! This makes me miss my English studies a little bit, but that’s okay. There are plenty of ways I can expand my horizons without going back to school. (Plus, I COULD go back to school if I wanted...)”
Someone got engaged or married.“Ugh I hate that my ‘turn’ is over. I miss being the bride. I miss all the parties thrown in honor of me and Stephen! Now this girl is going to get all the attention. She better not look hotter than me in her wedding dress or I’m gonna have a conniption…”“OMG THEY ARE SO CUTE!!!! I’M SO HAPPY FOR THEM!! I LOVE HER RING! I LOVE HER DRESS!! I LOVE WEDDINGS!!!”
Someone is in fantastic shape.“Why am I on Facebook instead of at the gym? Her abs are so nice. I wish mine were that nice! She probably has magical taste buds and doesn’t even like sweets. It’s probably easy for her.”“How awesome that so’n’so is fit and healthy! It’s so fun to check out what other fit people do for their workouts and get inspired by their progress.”
A high school or college “queen bee” type got less attractive. “HAH I WAS SO JEALOUS OF THAT GIRL IN COLLEGE AND LOOK AT HOW SHE LOOKS NOW. Sucks to peak at age 19!!!!! I guess her ugly character worked its way to the surface; karma’s a bitch!”“I shouldn’t have been jealous of that girl then and shouldn’t be vindictive now. I am going to continue to improve myself body, mind and soul. I want to think beautiful thoughts instead of ugly thoughts-- including about this girl.”

And so on and so forth.

Remember, whether you think positively or negatively about the given status-writer or picture-poster isn’t impacting their day. It’s impacting yours!

2. Think Before You Post

Posting to social media is the 21st century’s form of “shouting it from the mountaintop.” It can be super fun to announce something exciting, like “We’re engaged!!!” or “I just bought a house!”

Less exciting things include drama with friends, trouble in the workplace, family issues, or breakups. Unfortunately it can be just as natural of an inclination to shout those from the mountaintop. You’re mad, you’re sad, you’re looking for some kind of release. A public “eff you” to the offending party would be far more satisfying than a private one, right?

So wrong. You might succeed in making the other person look a tiiiinny bit bad, but mostly you’re just making yourself look bad. It’s juvenile to air your dirty laundry.

This also applies to more generalized “eff yous.” A status like “muhahahah all the bitches who were popular in high school ended up pregnant! Glad I went to college instead!” might get a lot of likes from other insecure people. But it’s also extremely mean.

(I have literally seen a variation of that Facebook status multiple times! And many other statuses that hated on young parents/accidental pregnancies in general. If you ask me, that’s immature and heartless.)

At the end of the day, does it make you look good to broadcast something like that? More importantly, does it make you feel good to broadcast something like that?

Think about that what you’ve typed before you hit “Post.” My humble opinion is if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it on the internet. If you’re feeling snarky, vengeful or pet peeve-y, call someone to vent instead. This is what moms, sisters, and best friends are for!

The Confident Girl's Guide to Social Media-ing

3. But Don’t Overthink Before You Post

Say your boyfriend bought you a surprise bouquet of flowers. You’d like to show them off on instagram, but you have some reservations.

I just posted a cute date night picture three days ago. I don’t want to look like I’m too “boyfriend-obsessed”…

My most recent insta is a hydrangea bush from my trip to the botanical garden. Will it look stupid for anyone lurking my profile to see two flower pics next to each other?

My friend just got dumped by her boyfriend. Is it bitchy of me to post this? Or is it silly to limit myself in order to protect her feelings?

I’m definitely a {recovering} Chronic Overthinker. Anyone else?

Overthinking each and every social media post is a fantastic way to waste time you could be spending on more important things. For “should I post this or not?” situations, I recommend saving the status, tweet, etc in your Notes. Go do something else and totally take your mind off it. It will still be there when you return an hour or even a day later, and then you can decide whether you want to post it. Don’t worry too much about real life timing. If you save the picture of the flowers your boyfriend gave you on Wednesday and end up posting them on Friday, no one is going to say, “Wait! Didn’t she receive those roses 43 hours ago??”

Sometimes realistic timing does matter, take birthday posts for example. For things like this I like to set myself a time limit and then move on. For example, “I’m going to spend the next seven minutes writing my cousin’s birthday shoutout. At the end of that time, I’m going to post it. I will not spend additional minutes debating whether I should say he’s the ‘most amazing’ or ‘most incredible’ cousin ever. He will appreciate my post either way.”

You guys have no idea how long I’ve spent drafting and revising some of my longer or more important facebook statuses. I enjoy writing in general, but some of those minutes (hours when you add them up over time!) were seriously unnecessary.

The Confident Girl's Guide to Social Media-ing

4. Don’t Feel Obligated

Does social media ever feel like a chore to you?

There was a time in my life where I didn’t feel “caught up” unless I lurked my insta feed all the way back to the last picture I’d seen. I currently follow 618 people on Instagram, some of whom post multiple times a day. That’s a lot of photos and consequently a lot of time. It actually used to make me anxious. Whenever I was at work or somewhere where my phone usage was limited, I felt like I was potentially missing something. I’d come home, throw myself onto the couch, and frantically speed-scroll through all my mediums before I felt like I could relax.

I no longer feel this way. (Thank God!) 

Unless you use it for your job, social media isn’t an obligation. Social media is supposed to be fun and relaxing. “Liking” someone’s posts and photos is not indicative of how much you like them in real life, so don’t feel guilty if there are stretches of time you just crave a little less screen action. You don’t owe it to everyone to like their stuff every day.

There are always those certain people who are fun to keep track of. Maybe they have a cool career or live in a fun city. Maybe they’re creative moms who write funny anecdotes about their kiddos. Maybe they’re just really pretty and good at doing their fake eyelashes. I’m the first to admit I always have a rotating little slew of girl crushes I like to stalk.    

If you have people whose lives you’re more interested in than others, you can always check in on them without scrolling over all the boring stuff in your feed. You can just hop on their profile and give them a lurk. You can even “like-bomb” all the stuff you missed.

I used to think like-bombing was kinda creepy and uncool, but I’ve changed my mind. When you think about it:

  1. The recipient of the like-bombing will probably be flattered you care about their life and lurked them specifically.
  2. You won’t look less cool or important. If anything, it makes you look mysterious to disappear for a bit and then rain down some likes.
  3. Okay, okay maybe like-bombing can be a tad creepy (depending on the situation). But everyone gets creepy on social media every now and then, so you may as well rock that. Denying the social media creep is so 2009.

In short, there is nothing wrong with spending some time on social media, but only do it if you’re genuinely enjoying it at that moment. It should be a hobby, not an obligation or habit.

The Confident Girl's Guide to Social Media-ing

5. Unplugging Completely is an Option

This is basically #4 on a larger scale.

Sometimes you just need to take a complete and total break.

I remember giving up instagram for Lent in 2014. We had just moved to San Francisco and it wasn’t really going as planned. Instagram had become a defense mechanism of sorts. Even if I wasn’t enjoying SF as much as expected, I sure as hell could make it look like I was!

I remember one day going to Off The Grid, a food truck festival by the water. Between the drive and finding parking, it took a lot longer than expected. Stephen was already annoyed by the time we got there. (“An hour to drive four fucking miles and another twenty minutes of looking for parking??”) I felt similarly! But we were finally there, so now we might as well enjoy it…

A few long lines and $60 later, we had modest servings of food on thin cardboard plates and one drink each. Our attempt to take advantage of our fun new city was steadily backfiring. We sat in the soggy grass, talking about how stressed we felt and how much food we could have bought in Tallahassee–our college town–for the same money. At this point in time, there was already a part of me that timidly wanted to model, so all of a sudden I felt crazy guilty about the calories… but I also would have felt guilty about throwing away the overpriced food, so I ate it.

We were so sad and forlorn that day, just two young Southern sweethearts fighting to make it in the big city. Cliche, I know. I took a picture of the wine slushie and fried crab sandwiches in my lap, my Forever 21 jean-clad legs sprawled in the background.

I cried and took one of those body-consuming naps when we got home.

The next day I was in a better mood. Feeling optimistic, I posted the picture with the hashtags #offthegrid and #content. A friend from college commented, “Omg Maya your life is so perfect!!!”

It made me feel guilty, like I was deceiving this sweet girl. I wanted to tell her about how the wet grass had gotten my jeans muddy but it didn’t matter because they were four years old and they were four years old because I can’t afford new ones and I couldn’t afford new ones because San Francisco sucks and why did I move here and why did I spend my Sunday eating and napping instead of being proactive?

But I didn’t.

It got to the point where enough was enough. My relationship with insta had become dysfunctional. I spent way too much time planning my posts, liking people’s stuff so they’d like mine, and thinking about it in general. Going cold-turkey for 40 days and 40 nights did me a world of good. The validation of getting likes, the disappointment when I didn’t get enough likes, the guilt when I felt like a City Girl imposter… It all needed to be shut down for a bit.

I spent those days thinking about other things. I focused on my modeling goals. I made strides toward solving my problems, rather than constructing a false reality in which I was #content. When I returned to instagram on Easter, it was with a much healthier mindset.

Don’t be afraid to totally unplug if you need to. Use your extra minutes wisely. Work on making your actual life as cool as your insta life. The results might surprise you.

The Confident Girl's Guide to Social Media-ing

6. Post for Yourself

Do you ever lurk yourself really far back on social media? Every now and then it can be fun to revisit good memories, pivotal life landmarks, and even silly everyday stuff you’d long forgotten.

It was during a 2am lurk of my own Facebook account a couple months ago that I realized the value of posting for yourself. Sure, social media is exactly that: social. It’s for other people to see what you’re up to. But it’s also for you! It’s your fun virtual scrapbook, it’s a collection of things you found significant enough to share.

It can be tempting to withhold the things you know won’t get a lot of likes. I remember debating posting a picture of a shirt for little girls that said “Call My Agent” that I’d seen in a New York shop window.

Who is going to like this? I thought. My 20-year-old model friends aren’t going to care about anything kid-related. On the flip side, none of my non-fashion industry friends who have children or want to have them soon are going to care either. It might even come off as arrogant to them to joke about my future model child’s agent.  

Nevertheless, I posted the picture with a joke about how I was going to buy it for Elise Trevathan (Stephen and I have had our baby names planned for years haha!) when she stars in the 2023 Baby Gap campaign. As I predicted, it didn’t get that many likes. But you know what? I got a kick out of the shirt and I wanted to post it. Half a year later, my computer crashed and I lost all my photos. I’m glad that cute little shirt is on facebook with its whopping 8 likes!

(Plus my own agent thought it was fantastic, so that made it well worth the post too!)

The Confident Girl's Guide to Social Media-ing

7. Don’t Take People Too Seriously

A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine who I like and respect (to the very small degree that I know her) tweeted about how couples who sit in the same booth at restaurants are basically the bane of her existence. Fun and funny, right? I’m sure there are others that share the same peeve.

2013 was a brutal year. My parents were divorcing and I was working long hours at two jobs. One of the few good things in my life was my boyfriend. And our dinner dates!! Forgetting the world in a pretty dress in a dark restaurant with the man who loved me was my refuge. Usually by the end of the night I had a good Shiraz buzz going and had moved to Stephen’s side of the booth for a little snuggling. I was most certainly in a “same side of the booth” relationship. The tweet stung.

Similarly, all the “OMG why is everyone getting engaged/married?! I just want to be young and free-spirited” statuses got under my skin during my engagement. Stephen has been the best part of my life since I was 19. We like to be youthful and free-spirited together. Who the hell are you to imply that I’m boring because I’m monogamous? I’d fume to myself.  

Since then, I’ve become far less sensitive and reactive. I’ve become less bothered by social media opinions that label a certain behavior I partake in as annoying (Food pics forever!!!). The only way to make sure nobody is ever bothered by your actions is to have the personality of a brick– and even then you might see a post saying “bricks are boring” or “I prefer cement.”

If you’re sensitive and high strung like I am, just chill out and take things with a grain of salt. People’s social media insults are indicative of their own insecurities, not of things you’re doing wrong. And they might not even be trying to insult anyone! Maybe they love being single, are genuinely baffled at people getting locked down so young, and decided to express this thought on Facebook. They have the right to do that.

If there’s anyone who consistently offends, annoys, or hurts you, just remove them from your feed, unfollow them, unfriend them, whatever.

And the end of the day, don’t let people wreck your day. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” This remains as relevant in the social media generation as on the day she said it, and perhaps even more so!

Social media is a bit like red wine. It can be fun and healthy in small amounts. There’s no need to eliminate it completely, but you shouldn’t consume it until you’re bleary-eyed, numb and angry.

I hope you enjoyed “The Confident Girl’s Guide to Social Media-ing.” I’ve read some great articles about the dangers of taking social media at face value, but after awhile many of them started to feel the same as the next. I hope mine was a bit different. I wanted to go past the realm of “don’t be negatively affected” into “how to not be negatively affected.” As you can tell, I also included personal examples and ample details.

Good luck and happy lurking!

With love (and likes!),

Maya Xx

p.s. My pajamas can be found here, and they’re now on sale for only $23!  (EDIT: they literally just sold out while I was writing this post [UGH] but this pair is super similar, this pair is similar, and here’s a long pants version of the same print in black.)

More importantly if this pair had already been online when I was PJ shopping, I most definitely would have bought those instead. (Um, Disney princess print that’s bright yet kind of abstract/watercolor-y?!? Can I get a “YES PLEASE” x a million??) Also currently digging these and this Eighties Barbie sleep tee.

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