How to Stay Sane and Healthy on Social Media

I like social media. I also like alcohol. Obviously, alcohol can cause problems, so I’ve established a few ground rules for myself. Similarly, social media can cause problems, so I’ve established ground rules there too. My social media ground rules have helped social media be a positive joyful force in my life, not the anger- and fear-inducing force that most people experience.

(Currently. I haven’t always done this. I’ve… Learned from past mistakes.)

This post is about “how”, not “how much”

Ground rules fall into two categories:

Both are important! I’m going to focus on the “how” rules, because they’re more subtle.

Social media does not want to enrich your life

Companies (facebook, twitter, snapchat, tiktok) don’t care about your mental health and well being. They optimize for users, clicks, and ad views. 1 They are almost required to do so. They don’t want you to feel worse (all things equal, they probably want you to feel better, who wouldn’t?) but their business goals just don’t care one way or the other.

Anger and fear generate lots of clicks and ad views! So the default experience on a social media site quickly becomes anger and fear. You have to actively fight it if you don’t want to leave every session a little more furious, worried, and drained than you started.

Becoming aware of it

If you’re reading this and saying, “that’s not me!”, I challenge you: open your favorite social media and scroll for a minute, and count how many posts make you feel a little more angry or afraid. Some common offenders:

You might have a lot of this! If you do, congrats, you’re becoming aware of it. If it’s not so bad, then congrats too! Either way, this becomes an ongoing challenge: notice this kind of thing as it comes up and continue to take steps to get rid of it.

Fixing it

But how do I get rid of the rage and fear? (Without losing my whole social circle?) In general, Just Unfollow People. Don’t worry, if they often ragepost and fearpost, it’s not likely that you’re missing nuggets of wisdom in between. (If you do, c’est la vie; there’s plenty of other wisdom nuggets elsewhere.) If they’re real life friends, you’ll keep in touch via other means. Remember: following someone means “I like what you post”, not “I like you.”

There are more detailed solutions per platform, too. I won’t post step by step “click here” info, as that keeps changing, but these principles should be pretty static for a while.




Twitter has a reputation as a terrible site where people yell at each other all day. But I think it’s actually the best, with a little work:



  1. please don’t well-actually about how platform x doesn’t count “clicks” exactly; the point is, they all monetize your attention. And I know facebook got some good press for “time well spent”; doesn’t really matter until their core business stops being monetizing your attention. ↩︎

  2. I should probably write a whole post about Someone Did Something Bad Somewhere (SDSBS) posts. Once you start noticing them, it gets way easier to dismiss them with prejudice. ↩︎

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