Confession: I mute my family and some of my closest friends on Instagram. (If I haven’t liked your posts or watched your Insta stories recently, you may be one of them.)
Before you get all upset, hear me out. I am not muting you because I don’t like you, I am muting you because I love so much that muting you is better for me, my mental health and ultimately our friendship.
Paige Rechtman, a licensed psychotherapist, says, “Muting people on social media is simply a modern way for us to set boundaries.”
She explains further, “Oftentimes many people struggle to set boundaries in-person, by saying no to an event, letting a friend know something they say or do is upsetting or triggering, or by putting yourself and your needs before the needs of others. For someone who isn’t used to it, setting boundaries may seem harsh. However, in the long run, taking care of yourself in this way can create more authentic interactions and lead to deeper relational bonds, through a sense of inner peace and confidence.”
Even Adina Mahalli, certified mental health expert and family care professional at Maple Holistics agrees. “The mute button is a great tool and allows you to have some freedom from that which you find annoying while maintaining your connections. You’re controlling what is on your timeline/newsfeed not severing your relationship. This cleansing can be positive and quite healthy.” (You see guys, I’m not being a b*tch).
To all of my family and friends I have muted, I am not muting you because you’re awful and I no longer want to be friends. It’s quite the opposite actually. I love you all to pieces and totally want to hear all about your birthday, see photos from your vacation and watch every video of your brand new baby—but I would much rather have you tell me about your awesome adventures and marvelous memories in person instead rather than on a screen.
To be honest, I am less inclined to be annoyed (and okay maybe even slightly envious at times) if you tell me about what’s going on in your life instead of constantly showing me on social media. Yes, please tell me about every piece of pasta you ate in Positano, but I don’t need to see every plate of pasta on social media every day until you return.
Call me old-fashioned, but I would much rather meet you for coffee and hear all about your around the world adventure in person than see it on my Instagram feed. That way, I not only get to hear you relive your time away, but I get to see you in person while sharing in your joy and excitement. Plus, I get to hear about it for the first time instead of already knowing what you’re talking about because I saw it posted a week ago on Instagram.
Hitting mute should not be a bad thing, but rather it’s mostly about self-preservation, mental health and taking a step back. Rechtman said it best: “Our feeds are our space. If someone in our space is triggering us in some way, we have every right to do what we need to do to keep our space safe, which includes muting those triggers. This doesn’t mean you don’t care about the person, and you don’t wish them well. It means you are putting your own mental health and wellbeing first, which is a mature and thoughtful way to live. Setting boundaries online is a great way to start practicing setting boundaries in IRL.”
If you find yourself feeling sad, stressed or just downright depressed as you scroll through your Instagram feed, I strongly encourage you to stand with me and select mute even if that means muting family and close friends. If it’s easier, start with me, I can handle it! @312chicagoblonde See, painless!