Social media has the power to educate, inform, and enrich our lives.
It also has the unfortunate power to confuse us, feed us inaccurate information as if it’s fact, and make us feel like total shit about ourselves.
How many times have you seen a photo or post on social and questioned your own life, weight, eating habits, job, clothes, or whatever else? Or, had some long-lost ‘friend’ pop up out of nowhere and try to sell you Isagenix crap?
Social media is like the Olympics of bullshit, and it’s up to us to navigate it skillfully. That can be brutally hard. Between influencers pushing all things ‘wellness’, ‘doctors’ selling crazy diets, and the actual legit accounts, it pays to know who to follow and who to trim from your following list altogether.
You all know how I feel about charlatan doctors and ‘health gurus’, but some of the other worst offenders are influencers with impossibly curated ‘aspirational’ health and wellness social media feeds.
Most of these accounts portray the influencer and their supposedly incredible #bloggerlife. In reality, and you’ll read more about this below, many of these accounts are totally fake, meaning that we’re looking at something that doesn’t really exist…at least in the way it appears to.
Still, ‘aspirational’ accounts tend to make us ‘aspire’ to be these people, because that’s human nature. Weird, I know.
While we know that we probably shouldn’t be following accounts that make us feel bad or that we know aren’t good for us, for some reason it’s tough to let them go. I have no idea why. I too have struggled with unfollowing people on social whose stuff I actually despise and that enrages me just to scroll past it.
Sometimes I don’t click ‘unfollow’ because I know the person behind the account, or because I convince myself that their posts really aren’t all that bad. But there’s no reason to justify it: if someone makes me feel crappy or angry in real life, I generally try to avoid them. How many times have you seen someone on the street or at a party and totally tried to hide because you just can’t deal with them?
Unfollowing someone is the equivalent of turning your back and walking the other way when you see someone on the street that you don’t like.
It’s like saying, ‘I don’t have time for your crap, especially because it’s boring, misleading, and it makes me question myself.’
Guys, believe me when I tell you that taking that step is never going to be a bad idea.
And with that in mind, here are the types of accounts to unfollow immediately:
The Instagram wellness influencer whose life is obviously fake.
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about someone who calls themselves a ‘professional influencer’ that’s a bit gag-inducing. The influencer industry is full of self-absorbed vapid people whose only mission is to look good for ‘likes’ and money. It’s entertainment, that’s all. It’s also fake AF.
Having spent considerable time with at least one foot in the influencer world, I can tell you a few things about the things you’re typically seeing on many (not all) influencers’ social:
- Most of the photos you see on their feeds are curated, meaning they probably took dozens of images before they chose the one they posted, but not before they cropped and edited it to make it look like it was just a fluke shot. I’ve seen one girl walk down a street about 50 times pouting and flipping her hair just so her friend could get the perfect photo for this person’s Instagram. This wasn’t a photoshoot, it was just a normal day. So much for that ‘authentic’ shot! In other words? Nobody looks that perfect all the time.
- I’ve known influencers who order everything on a menu in order to get a shot, then get up and leave the food without eating. Yeah. That happens. And while we’re talking about eating….
- They’re probably not eating that smoothie bowl or whatever else they’re posting on their feed. In reality, maintaining their (thin) image takes work, meaning they aren’t as free with their food as they’d have you believe. Physical ‘beauty’ sells, and unfortunately, most often that means our culture’s thin ideal is the goal. When influencers in their 20s are doing campaigns for Juvederm fillers (true story), you know something is really off.
- Many of the influencers I’ve known aren’t the happiest people. It’s very hard work to keep up appearances and to continue to pump out content that’s flattering and fresh. Their life seems totally exhausting and not fun at all. You never know what’s behind an image, and in many cases, you probably don’t even want to know.
In other words? THEY’RE SELLING YOU A FANTASY that anyone’s real life will never live up to. And if you can’t stop comparing yourself to these people, it’s time to stop looking at them.
The person posting bullshit #fitspo photos and memes like, ‘sweat is fat crying’
These posts promote the message that looks should be prioritized over physical and emotional health.
I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but that thinking is always wrong. Always.
The thing about #fitspo accounts is that they’re posting what is actually pernicious messaging promoting attractiveness, cloaked under the guise of being ‘inspirational.’ But in a lot of cases, they don’t inspire: they shame us into feeling as though they need to be somebody else in order to be attractive and worthy. That if we’re not thin and ready to punish our bodies, than we’re weak and lesser in some way.
If you have a fragile body image, you could be even more at risk by following fitspo accounts. Research suggests that time spent on social media is correlated to risk of body image concerns as well as anxiety, depressive symptoms, and low self esteem.
As far as the ‘no pain, no gain’ mindset, it’s completely stupid and dangerous. If something hurts, it’s your body telling you to stop. Ignoring that can lead to injury, obviously.
Those people selling garbage supplements and diets. Of course.
Definitely get rid of the ‘friends’ and whoever else who wants to sell you anything or deliver advice they’re not qualified to give. That includes the people who you haven’t spoken to since school and who are now trying to ‘meet you for coffee’ so they can pitch you their MLM scheme. Sigh.
I don’t care how much weight someone has lost, how much ‘research’ they’ve read, or how amazing they think their diet program or supplements are. If they’re dishing out MLM bullshit in order to drain your wallet and pad theirs, let them go.
Accounts that promote dubious nutrition and health information.
Health Ranger. MindBodyGreen (in many cases). The Medical Medium. Mr. Lectin-hater Dr Gundry. Goop. The account that puts out idiotic infographics like this one.
and this lovely gem:
What in actual fuck.
There are thousands of accounts that spew this sort of garbage nutrition and health advice but are still super popular (although I suspect that many of them buy followers). Don’t judge the quality of an account by the number of people who are following it.
Red flags to watch out for:
- Talk about ‘toxic’ foods
- Anyone selling something
- Diet zealots who promote only one way of eating and are rude to everyone else
- Anyone who posts shit about ‘clean eating’ and ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food
- Accounts that post ‘miracle cures’ and ‘quick weight loss’ crap
- Accounts that promote stuff that is obviously too good to be true (ie raw diet to cure cancer, celery juice to cure EVERYTHING)
- Non-credentialed people who dole out advice but have no training in that area whatsoever
- Conspiracy theorists who use talk about Big Pharma or Big Food to fear-monger and promote an agenda
Clean out your social media closet for the new year, and start fresh with accounts that make you proud to be who you are. That help you recognize your value.
That build you up and add something to your life. That goes for the people who you give your precious time to, too.