Social Media Burn Out

This month’s Ulster Tatler Column is going to be a bit of a walking contradiction... You might be reading this article as a result of me having promoted it on my Instagram, or having talked about it on TikTok. And yet, in the same breath I’m going to admit that the last while, I have found social media really draining.

For most bloggers I know, growing a platform has been something that’s happened gradually. They’ve enjoyed sharing their life or special interest, and somewhere along the way a following grew and eventually they were able to monetise that content.

For me, 4 years ago when I was working in the editorial department in Ulster Tatler, my onlinepresence was pretty much non-existent. I had an Instagram account with 2 photos and a Facebookwhere the only pictures were ones I had been tagged in by other people. When I landed my firstradio show, I made a conscious decision to start sharing my life online, in the hope that I could linkthis in with my on-air presence and establish a personal brand. It worked and within a year I hadgrown a combined online following of around 25,000 people. Today, that number sits closer to50,000.

I went from never posting to sharing daily and since then, there has rarely been a week where Ihaven’t shared some element of my life online. I will never take the connectivity with listeners andfollowers that social media has provided me with for granted. At the beginning, I loved nothingmore than sharing content that rings true for others and thus, getting to interact with likemindedpeople. 4 years later, this still rings true. I will be forever grateful to the wonderful community ofpeople that for one reason or another decided to click ‘follow’.

Somewhere along the way though, I started to feel burnt out. It’s one thing when posting on social media to share your most exciting moments, but it’s another when you start to view it as a job and feel pressure to post exciting moments consistently.

With most jobs, you log out of your desktop at 5PM and can then be present with family and friends for the remainder of the evening. With content creation, to be favoured by the algorithm, it heavily relies on sharing your life around the clock. Very quickly, your downtime can become part and parcel for the course of creating content.

I’m ridiculously aware of what a first world problem this is as I type. A snap of your coffee before you drink it here, a shot of yoga class before heading inside there, it isn’t exactly ground breaking stress. But over the last while, the inability to just be in the moment has started to feel stifling. When posting is so constant, your subconscious mind can begin to become hypervigilant of what could make for interesting content as opposed to just diving head first into an experience.

You see influencers glamourous lives online, but what you don’t see is the inability to relax at a given occasion until they get ‘the shot’. Trust me when I say, I have attended enough influencer events to know this is not just my reality but that of many of the people that also occupy these rooms. It sounds absurd and superficial and I am sure it’s not the reality for everyone, but I do know it’s more common than you would think.

We live in a world where our phones live next to us at almost all times. With content creation it’salso the portal to work so if you’re not posting, there is always a message to respond to or emailto reply to or comments to get back to at any given time. We’ll not even start on algorithms andlikes and physical appearance in this article. How we all have constant exposure to everyone else’shighlight reel 24/7. Nor the debate of only posting the perfect elements of your life online versus theimplications of sharing your vulnerabilities to a platform of thousands.

I am so aware of my privilege when I say that trying to keep up with the above resulted in me feeling burnt out after a few years. With the real issues in the world, the privilege is LOUD right now. Nevertheless, this column is where I like to share my thoughts and experiences each month and in October, something a bit different for me was doing a social media detox.

I came off Instagram and TikTok for 30 days and I can’t quite put into words how amazing it felt to not know what everyone else was doing at all times. In terms of my own life, it was so freeing to just be in the moment rather than trying to document it. I had so much free time that would normally be spent on my phone that I probably read more books in October than I had the previous 3 months combined, an added bonus was I was sleeping better too.

A break was needed, but we do live in 2023 so with working in radio, coming off social media altogether isn’t realistic for me. What I have learned though is boundaries with time spent on my phone and posting content mainly related to the broadcast element of my job is what I know will work best for me going forward. It can be easy to be dazzled by the gloss of social media but hopefully this month’s Ulster Tatler column can provide some insight behind and not just the shiny parts!