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How to disrupt your social media feed to become happier

#DisruptYourFeed for International Women's Week.

Would your life be better if social media didn’t exist?

Think about it. The average person in Britain will spend more than 22 years of their life online, and if you’re on social media, a substantial amount of that time will likely be spent scrolling through feeds, examining other people’s profiles, and updating your own online presence to paint yourself in a light you’re happy with.

It’s all rather time consuming, but either out of enjoyment or pressure, the majority of us have accepted that social media is ingrained in our lives to some extent.

However, a recent survey from The Female Lead found that six in ten people globally believe their lives would be better if social media didn’t exist.

Considering all of those people surveyed are actually social media users themselves (a poll of 76,000 was conducted on LinkedIn), it’s a staggering result. Over half of people know that social media doesn’t make them happier, but they continue to use it anyway.

Perhaps they feel they would be at a disadvantage without an online presence. Or perhaps they feel psychologically unable to battle the algorithms and wean themselves off these highly addictive apps.

Further surveys from The Female Lead found that 78% of people believe that social media has negatively affected the way they view their bodies, and 75% of people worry that social media has a negative impact on their mental health.

Considering more than half of the global population use social media, it’s saddening to know that being shackled to this machine takes priority over our mental health.

So what can be done about it?

The seemingly easy answer is to simply cut ties with social media and delete our accounts. But if it were that easy, social media would have died a death a long time ago.

Our solution is one that is much more realistic and exciting.

At The Female Lead, we believe that we can adapt and monitor our digital diet, in the same way that we can with our physical diet for better mental health outcomes.

Our ground-breaking Disrupt Your Feed research revealed that changing or ‘disrupting’ the homogeneity of what teens consume on social media - rather than just restricting social media usage - led to many positive outcomes.

We introduced new, diverse female role models into the social media feeds of girls aged 14 to 18.

Leila Symonds, Study Participant

The study concluded that a causal relationship exists between following positive female role models on social media and having higher, focused personal and career aspirations, as well as higher self esteem.

One teen study participant said: "I've unfollowed a lot of the people I was previously following because I recognised during the study that actually they weren't making me feel happy.”

“The study made me realise that I don't have to be an hourglass or be a makeup artist or a model. I can be successful and independent.”

“I felt like it brought the real world into my social media world. It's no longer just about what I look like, but actually about what I think, which is definitely more important.”

Sophia Harley, Study Participant

Another participant said: “Social media has now actually had a positive influence on my interests and hobbies. Before, I didn’t follow anybody like the people who The Female Lead were suggesting. Now I do.”

“The study made my social media pages more diverse because I'm exposed to a wide array of people who are scientists or lawyers or doctors. My social media feed is now giving me much more self belief."

The joint research venture in 2019 encompassed large-scale data analysis of hundreds of thousands of social accounts by Starcount, alongside a year-long qualitative study in five UK schools.

Since then, teenagers have inevitably spent even more time on social media during the pandemic, which has resulted in worrying trends of increased mental health problems amongst young people, particularly young women.

That is why on International Women's Day 2022, The Female Lead relaunched an updated curated list of recommended people to follow.

The list encompasses nearly 400 different social media accounts, including those of body positive influencers, scientists, activists, journalists, business people and artists.

Throughout this week, we are sharing our Disrupt Your Feed Pledge to our audience of over 7 million followers.

Hundreds of extraordinary, powerful women with huge followings have also committed to sharing our pledge, including Alex Light (Body confidence influencer), Gina Miller (Activist), Oby Ezekwesili (Presidential Candidate), Tiffany Aliche (America's favourite personal financial educator), Daisy Buchanan (Journalist), Laura Bates (Founder of The Everyday Sexism Project), Catherine Mayer (Founder of The Women's Equality Party), Margaret Cho (Actress & Comedian) and Nadia Murad (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate).

Edwina Dunn, Founder of The Female Lead said: “The problem is we know that social media can be bad for our health. And yet, we keep coming back for more. We remain hooked on this content. So why are we not also maximising the benefits that social media offers?”

“We currently allow the platforms to manage our feeds and so we get what we’re given. Many of us consume a loop of airbrushed entertainment that makes us all feel less, constantly comparing ourselves with people and stories that are neither real nor uplifting.”

“By sharing our pledge and pointing social media users to our list of incredible women to follow, we are making an active difference in the outcomes of many young women’s lives.”

If you’d like to be involved, share our pledge today for International Women’s Week and nominate someone who you think is a positive female role model to follow.

Make sure to check out our list and reinforce your interests by following accounts that inspire and resonate with you. Remember that you are in control of your feed, so fill it with people you admire. Disrupt Your Feed.

By Holly Droy


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