The other day, after checking Facebook on my phone, I immediately texted my friend and said “Please take that photo down, that’s the worst picture of me!” She apologized, assured me that she didn't think I looked bad, but promised to take the photo down nonetheless.
I sat in my car and felt awful that I just text-attacked my friend over a Facebook photo. Then I received three more texts from her apologizing, as if she’d done something really wrong. All of this over a silly Facebook photo.
So, why did I freak out? I was being self-critical, and feeling that extra intense level of judgment that comes with posts on social media. Your life is out there, people can see it and judge you.
As women, we are already hyper-critical. It's how our culture raises us, and it's a problem in and of itself. But now with various social platforms — and most notably, Facebook — we can actively paint pictures of what we want others to see. This is where it gets dangerous and does more harm than good, if you let it.
In fact, the Center for Eating Disorder conducted a recent survey for women ages 16-40 about Facebook and its impact on their body image. They reported that 51% of respondents said seeing photos of themselves on Facebook made them more conscious about their own body and weight, 32% reported feeling sad after comparing themselves with their friends and 37% wanted to change specific body parts after surfing Facebook.
With that said, you have control over how much you let Facebook get to you — especially by avoiding certain habits. Here are your "Seven Deadly Facebook Sins," the things never to do on Facebook if you want to feel good about yourself.
1. Don’t play the comparison game.
Why kick yourself when you’re down? The way to stay stuck is by not taking action and allowing yourself to wallow in your own self-pity. Facebook is the #1 place to get lost in hours of comparing yourself to others (and perhaps old photos of yourself). This habit lets us continue our insidious patterns of self-doubt.
So use Facebook to motivate you by only having people in your news feed with positive messages that inspire you and propel you forward.
2. Don’t spend hours of your day on Facebook.
Facebook is a virtual space for connection but it’s not living and experiencing real life. It does not feed your soul the same as in-person human touch and interaction.
Instead of spending hours on Facebook, get outside, make time for family and friends, do something that lights you up.
3. Don’t play the blame game (on yourself).
Facebook is a space where we go and see pictures that have been edited to look a certain way. Don’t allow what you see to keep you playing victim, to think “Woe is me. That person has X thing and I don’t. And therefore my life sucks."
You have the resources inside of yourself to get empowered and celebrate YOU. Instead of lingering on posts other people write and feeling like you are failing because your life is worse, reroute where your mind is going. Meditate on the beauty and richness you have in your own life.
A great tool you can access on your own is keeping a gratitude journal where you can list each day five things you are grateful for in your life and about your body and health. I do this each morning and evening and it’s become a beautiful me-time ritual, and way better than mindlessly checking Facebook.
4. Don’t get caught up in the drama.
Childish conversations help no one, and especially not when they are online. If you're having a conflict with someone, pick up the phone or ask for an in-person meet up. And if it’s not your battle, why even go there?
Just because you might see something that stirs you up on Facebook doesn't mean you need to hold onto the negative energy. Use the drama to take the high ground, don’t respond and take your anger outdoors or to the gym.
5. Don’t crunch and munch while on Facebook.
Just like eating while watching TV, snacking and being on Facebook at the same time has become a bad habit for most. This mindless eating does add up, and doesn't feel great. End of story.
6. Don’t use Facebook as an excuse to avoid “putting yourself out there” and living life.
Being you really and truly is about loving who you are in real life. The more you hide behind a computer screen, it’s like saying you are not enough or perfect exactly as you are.
7. Don’t be fake.
Keep it real on Facebook and surround yourself with those that do the same. Post natural pictures of yourself. The more you are you, the more comfortable you will feel being you. That is true self-love and acceptance.
It’s when we try so hard to look different and be anyone but ourselves, that we hide our true beauty. But when we are ourselves, in our entirety — our uniquely imperfect but perfectly fabulous selves — we are stunning. No one can photoshop that, or ever replicate it.