Social media is never going to go away. Nobody will ever say, “That was a dumb idea”.  It’s just going to become more and more a part of our lives.  Not just as a consumer but also as a content creator and a source of income for many.  We use it to connect with friends and family, to stay informed about the world, to share our thoughts and experiences with others, to be creative, be entertained, learn and often these days to also generate income.

The algorithms that these platforms use to keep us engaged are getting increasingly sophisticated. Social media algorithms are designed to show us content that we are most likely to engage with, whether it’s liking, sharing, or commenting. This means that the more we engage with content, the more the algorithm will show us similar content.  It knows that when we watch a video such as on Tiktok or an Instagram Reel all the way to the end, it shows us more like that.  If we skip on by, the algorithm knows this too.  It’s very clever but can also be a trap you fall into to waste a lot of time.  It could mean you fall behind in your work, study, assignments, housework, social engagements, exercise, hobbies and in relationships.

This algorithmic design creates a cycle that can be difficult to break. The more we engage with content, the more content we see, and the more time we spend on the app which is what the app creators want. This can lead to a sense of addiction, where we feel compelled to constantly check our social media feeds for updates.  We don’t want to miss out on what others are posting so we are constantly monitoring and checking our phone apps.  Also known as FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out. Often the reason why people don’t delete these apps on their phone.  They might miss something important or seemingly important.

Additionally, social media algorithms are designed to show us personalized content that is tailored to our interests and preferences. This can make us feel like we are getting a unique and personalized experience on the app. However, it can also create an echo chamber effect where we only see content that confirms our existing beliefs and biases. If you’re depressed and watching depression videos, you are more likely to be showing depression videos so you become stuck in a cycle that isn’t healthy.  Teenagers can get addicted to watching videos on other teenagers discussing suicide and how depressed they are.

Another way that social media algorithms trap us is through the use of notifications. When we receive a notification, whether it’s a like, comment, or direct message, it creates a dopamine hit in our brain. This reinforces our desire to check the app and engage with more content.  This is prevalent after posting content and the likes, comments and notifications come in.  You feel compelled to spend more time on the apps checking these and responding.

So, what can we do to break free from the trap of social media algorithms? One approach is to be more intentional about our social media use. We can set limits on our screen time, prioritize real-life interactions over virtual ones, (use apps to organize catch ups in real life) and be mindful of the content we consume and for how long. Being disciplined and intentional in our use.

Most phones have a section where you can view your screentime and see how much of your day is actually spent on phone apps.  This will give you some idea of the amount of time spent.  It might be quite a wakeup call.  You could say to yourself that you will finish on your phone at 6pm, then spend time doing other things.  Any messages, texts, comments etc can be handled the next day.  Set some boundaries for your time especially if creation content and growing your accounts has become a business that takes up most of your day.

A content creator is someone who produces content for online platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, Onlyfans, websites or blogs. Content can come in various forms, including videos, photos, articles, podcasts, and more. Professional content creators typically monetize their work through sponsorships, advertisements, subscriptions, or merchandise sales and affiliate links.

Being a full-time content creator can be an exciting and fulfilling career, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges and pressures. While the freedom to create and share your passion with the world from anywhere in the world, can be exhilarating, the pressure to constantly produce high-quality content can be overwhelming at times.  There is so much competition out there.  Just look at the number of makeup and hair tutorials are already on the internet being joined by truckloads daily. Even those that make and upload cat and dog videos can feel the pressure to have a video go viral and get popular.

One of the biggest benefits of being a content creator is the freedom and flexibility it provides. Creators can work from anywhere and at any time, allowing them to craft their work around their own schedule and be their own boss which is a very attractive prospect. Additionally, content creators often have the opportunity to build a loyal following and engage with fans who share similar interests.

However, the pressure to consistently produce high-quality content can be daunting. With millions of content creators on various platforms, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd. Creators must continuously create content that is engaging, unique, and relevant to their audience to maintain their following and monetization opportunities.

The need to research and create content that generates views, engagement, and revenue can lead to burnout, stress, and anxiety. Creators may feel like they are constantly on a hamster wheel, trying to keep up with the demand for new and exciting content to grow their accounts, add fans and gain likes.

Ask yourself what’s your end game?  Why are you striving so hard to get followers and likes?  Is it just for your self-esteem to be popular like a type of celebrity, do you actually enjoy it or is it just your work?

Instagram in recent upgrades, have made their algorithms to favour those that post to their grid feed on their account at least once a day and upload 6 times a day on their stories. Two in the morning, two at lunch and two in the afternoon/evening.  That is a lot of content to upload.  They also favour those that engage with their followers and commenters after each grid post.  This means once they post, they have to go back and ‘like’ or reply to each comment.  It’s become such a huge workload, it’s like being an employee of the social media business.  And this is just Instagram.  There’s so many others that you may also have to keep up with for your fans sake and to keep generating your income and building your accounts and online presence.

It may help you to concentrate your efforts to one to three platforms and not all of them.  Use scheduling tools such as Business Suite for Instagram and Facebook to plan your posts ahead of time.  This can be done on Twitter too.  I use a printed calendar to plan my posts and write in pencil so I can make changes and see when and what posts are being uploaded for my businesses.

Work with whatever social media platform works best for your business/life and put your efforts there. Plan where you will engage your most energy down to your least.  Decide then if your least useful apps need to require any of your energy.  They can be deleted and put your energy elsewhere.

As well as creating and consuming content it’s easy to get caught up in the analytics.  Analysing which videos got the most screen time on people’s devices and feeling deflated if your average screen time was 10 seconds in a 1 minute video. Too much emphasis on this can have you feeling great or like a failure. Sometimes it’s safer to not even look at your stats and just enjoy your own content and enjoy making it.

People are trained now to skip on if the content in front of them doesn’t completely engage them.  So don’t feel bad if your video doesn’t get as much watch time as you would like. People are so different and it is hard to please everyone.  The most important thing is that you enjoyed making your content, whether it’s a dance video or making a cake video.

Sometimes less is more.  I have created what I think are great videos on Tiktok and Instagram Reels only to find a straight short video done in one take, of a duck limping down the road with his family, does much better in terms of views, likes and comments than the videos I carefully shoot and edit which might take days to shoot all the footage.

It’s important to keep a level head and realize it doesn’t really matter that much and isn’t a matter of life and death.  On your death bed, you won’t say to the nurse, “But I got lots of likes on my social media”. “I had a million followers”.  “A video of my dog went viral”.  Nobody really cares in the scheme of things.  It’s how you treat others and how you are as a person that is the most important thing.

Case in point of a recent situation where a famous social media influencer went to jail for 31 years for murder along with her mother and a couple of accomplices.  The mother was being blackmailed by a former lover so the daughter came up with a plan.  Plan failed of course and jail without parole for 31 years is their future.  All that time put into social media came to a crashing end.  Nobody cares about them now pretty much, they can’t do social media and will rot in jail.

Another thing to realize is that people are so fickle.  The crowd moves on to other things/trends/creators if you don’t create content.  You may think your fans, subscribers and followers are your tribe or community but if you stop giving them content or they find someone who gives them better content to consume, they will move on in a huge herd.  New Youtubers/Tiktokers/Instagrammers are born every day.

The rise of cancel culture and online criticism can add to the pressure and stress of being a content creator these days. A single misstep or controversial statement can lead to a public backlash and damage the creator’s reputation, brand and income.

Spend time on Reddit and you will see whole communities dedicated to criticizing Australian Tiktokers and anyone else deemed worthy of expressing an opinion over.  Sometimes those content makers do bring it upon themselves whether they know and expect it, or not.  They overshare on private things such as divorces and child custody arrangements.  The general public doesn’t need to know private things, but some women just don’t know when to stop oversharing, then wonder why others attack them for this.  I have seen this first hand with a woman I know.  She is nice enough but really invites issues into her life and relationships and thinks crying on social media will get sympathy, but often it just gives fodder for people to attack her more.  She has struggled with social media and her place in it and is often taking breaks, only to return, overshare again, get attacked via messages and on Reddit and then need a break again. It’s a vicious cycle she seems to be trapped in.

Another woman I know personally, is quite controversial and posts many times a day on Instagram.  Sometimes she receives comments, questions or criticisms and has to make further posts and screenshots to defend herself and deal with the haters.  She has to keep up with her Instagram (stories, reels and photo posts on three accounts), Twitter, OnlyFans, Patreon, Tiktok and her YouTube channel plus full time study and she runs two separate businesses on the side. One is a face to face service business and the other is an ecommerce business that requires its own level of social media marketing in a competitive market.

It’s an awful lot of pressure for one person plus dealing with the haters and fans.  She has had to develop a tough skin and an ‘I don’t care’ attitude to a lot of things in order to survive the cut throat game of content creation, when so many people are doing the exact same thing that she is. Sustaining this level of pressure for years on end may lead to some major issues down the track. In her mid 20’s she is also suffering anxiety and depression and is on medication with a lot of important broken relationships in her life. We can only guess what another 20 years of keeping up this pressure could do to future generations and those that are currently in the industry.

Multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media use and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self harm, irregular sleep, eye strain, bullying, peer pressure and even suicide.  It can promote a negative experience with regards to how a person feels about themselves as a consumer of social media and also as a content creator.

Among the throngs of creators telling you how to get more likes and engagement on your social media accounts, is some voices in the wind telling us to take a step back and get off the hamster wheel.  They are like a breath of fresh air and makes one realize the dangers of being sucked in too far.  Seek out these videos if you need a reality check, rather than more videos telling you how to engage further to get likes and fans or quick hacks to make money which are often so over saturated it’s hard to stand out, which only increases the pressure on yourself.  Understand that the algorithms want us to be a slave to the apps spending as much time on them as we can and it isn’t healthy.

Like anything, creators come and go but there will always be new ones emerging.  Just ask a bunch of year 6 students what they want to do as a career, and guaranteed a handful will say they want to be a YouTuber or Tiktoker. I recently asked my friend’s 9 year old Grandson what he wanted to do when he left school.  Without a second of hesitation he replied, “Youtuber”.  The little guy has such a confident way with words and expressing himself, I don’t doubt him at all.

Shooting and editing photos and videos, researching, writing text, recording audio, choosing music, uploading, hash tagging, keywording etc is a big enough job on its own but that is only part of it. Then you have to deal with comments and private messages from haters, time wasters, spam messages, marketers promising more likes, followers or sales, scams, and true fans which is hugely time consuming as well as the actual content creation.  And the more popular you get the worse it gets too.  Some people hire others to handle their social media for this reason.  It can get too much.  I have a friend I went to school with, who does adult content and has a social media manager because she couldn’t handle the nasty comments from people, mostly from other women trying to take her down. It’s typical human nature, that as soon as one person rises above the others (like a tall poppy in a field), others want to take them down.

Consumers of social media need to know that a lot of what they see online is not reality.  There’s a few tricks people use.  Those regular designer outfit photos may be of borrowed, second hand or bought and returned clothes.  The handbags and shoes might be fakes but you can’t tell from distant photos but it gives the impression of being wealthy enough to afford the items.  People photographing themselves in locations and vacations constantly, could be Photoshopped or people visit a location and take multiple images and drip feed them onto social media to give the impression they are here, there and everywhere, and often.  There’s even a place you can ‘hire’ to take photos of yourself relaxing inside a fancy aircraft on cream leather seats.  People have also been known to see beautiful cars in the street, and stop to pose on them, thus giving the impression that they just bought it with their crypto earnings or whatever. All giving the impression that you are successful and rich.

If seeing these types of images creates a sense of jealousy in you about your own life, just unfollow them and stop consuming their content.  I have a friend who unfollows his friends on social media when that friend goes on a nice vacation because he can’t handle his jealousy.  It’s a little immature as you should be happy with your friend who is on a nice vacation but it is what works for him to keep his jealously in control. It’s different with people you don’t know but might idolize.  Not healthy to idolize others and their material possessions and fancy vacations.

It’s essential for all content creators to prioritize self-care, take breaks when necessary, have good holidays where they put down their phones for a complete rest, and when they are working, focus on creating content that they are passionate about, rather than solely for monetization purposes, or to feel the need to keep up with anyone.  Take the competition factor out of it for your own mental health. Get help if you need it. Socialize in the real world with positive relationships. Just don’t care what others do.  Work on your own content and enjoy your work. Ask yourself the hard questions about why and what you are doing and what’s your purpose. Keep an eye on the end goal but enjoy the journey. Also think about what you are doing.  Do you need to overshare and invite others to criticize you?  Is there another way to say and share what is important to you?

Aiming to build a supportive community and seeking professional help when needed, can help alleviate the pressure and stress of being a full-time content creator.

Enjoy the benefits of social media, whether you are a content creator or a consumer, but make sure you get off the hamster wheel when you need to, and look after your mental health.