Creativity + mental health: your social media check-up

Creativity + mental health: your social media check-up

Much has been written about the effects of social media, it can be tempting to think about it's influence in black or white. But the fact remains that the impact is complex, and research is still trying to unpack what's going on. 

For both creativity and mental health, research suggests that social media is sometimes helpful and sometimes harmful. It also appears that there are many factors at play in the equation, including personal factors.

Here are a few common (and tricky) aspects of social media use that are especially related to mental health and creativity:

  • Inspiration that is motivating and helps us generate new ideas v. comparison that is demoralizing and shuts us down
  • Making for ourselves v. making for others
  • Feeling free to explore v. prioritizing "perfection"

While these are some common themes, each of us is different. And that means that our relationships to social media will also be highly personal and fluctuate over time. 

For a personal social media check-up, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. How do I feel before, during, and after using social media? How is it impacting my functioning day to day? 
    • If your gut instinct is that social media is overall having a negative impact on you, that's no reason to judge yourself or shut everything down. But it might mean making some adjustments is in order.
  2. Why am I using social media? This might sound strange, but if you don't have an active reason (for yourself...not anyone else), you might be disappearing into an algorithm in ways that aren't serving you. And you may not even realize it.
  3. What do I want to be using it for? 
    • Do you want to use it to connect with friends?
    • Learn about topics you're interested in?
    • Find creative inspiration?
    • Plan for the future?
    • Escape?
    • Without assigning judgement, making conscious choices about what purpose you want social media to serve in your life can help you feel more calm, empowered and inspired when you do log on.
  4. Which platforms are most aligned with my needs and goals? Platforms have distinct designs and functions, so take time to think about how the different formats and types of content are aligned with your goals.
    • What is your learning style?
    • What types of feedback help or hurt you?
    • What format of content serves you?
  5. How much use helps? How much hurts? 
    • Some amount of time might help you engage deeply in other areas of life
    • Too much time (by your definition) might actually interfere with the time you have for other activities that help your creativity and mental health 
  6. What is my tell-tale sign that I need to unplug, at least for a while?

    These questions can be a helpful guide that informs your choices around social media.

    As an example- Render uses Pinterest to connect with creators, communities and topics that inspire and surprise. The focus on visual resources and ability to organize ideas and inspiration by subject area and type is also well aligned with the work here.

    The main take away? There is no one plan that works for everyone, so it's up to you to make a plan and routine that works the way you want it to. 

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