Ok, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic. Or maybe… it’s not? With over 1 billion people using Instagram every month it’s safe to say A LOT of us are spending time on Instagram — posting, editing, following, scrolling, and liking. It’s an easy way to stay connected to friends and up to date on your favorite brands, celebrities, and even insta-famous dogs (?!). But it can also be a major source of stress with increased use recently being linked to increased rates of depression in teens and young adults. Given this finding it seems pretty clear to me that who and what we follow matters.

While use varies from person to person for many it can become a default or ‘go-to’ when we’re bored or have some time to kill. “Oh, I have ten minutes before class starts? Let me see what my friends are up to…” etc. That time starts to add up and if we aren’t intentional about who we choose to follow we can find ourselves getting sucked into comparison, worry, and doubt. “Oh this person has a perfect life” or “Wow they have it all figured out” or “Why wasn’t I invited? What’s wrong with me?” This sort of engagement can lead to social isolation and self-doubt.

The good news is that while we can’t control what people choose to post, we can control what we choose to consume.

With this in mind, I encourage folks to take an inventory of their Instagram feed and the folks they choose to follow. Pay attention to how you feel when scrolling through videos and images on your feed. Are you left feeling worried? Sad? Alone? If so, it might be time to clean house. Making small shifts in the people and content you choose to consume on a daily basis can make a world of difference. Find people that inspire you, challenge you, and help you feel more connected. Then tune in to how you feel after your next Instagram scroll session. Has something shifted?

Social Media can feel overwhelming but being more intentional about who you follow is a good first step in shifting your relationship and the way you engage online.

Who do you follow? What accounts would you recommend?