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You are what you consume so choose your social media carefully

Matt Smith

June 17, 2020

Matt Smith is director and chief content officer of WHJE and MD of WPB

Remember the old adage, ‘you are what you eat’? Well when it comes to content, I think the same applies.

Our timelines are often full of friends’ ‘boast fests’ – documented happy times that are masking an inner sadness – and organisations’ platitudes to causes or entreaties to buy things. Some adverts do come better disguised (like this one though in its defence it is aimed at simply giving you food, or should that be content, for thought).

‘Talk is cheap’ online and there is way too much of it as a result. As a share of the content we consume it is increasing its hold on us.

According to Smart Insights, early last year 3.8 billion people in the world were using social media and half of all UK adults now use social media to keep up with the latest news, according to Ofcom’s annual news consumption report.

Social media platforms tend to be rated the least reliable but even so 37% of people who use social media for news said they thought it was impartial.

If you started being pickier about what you viewed and read would you feel better for it? I’m not suggesting a policy of no access to social media which studies show invariably results in depression and isolation (if you don’t believe me get someone to hide your smartphone for 24 hours).

I’m simply suggesting a balanced diet. Stuff that makes you think, smile, consider and even act in equal measure and most importantly gives you something you did not have before without demanding something in return.

What you consume makes a difference to how you feel. I don’t like greens (particularly brussels sprouts) but I know I have to eat them.

It’s why I still read the Telegraph – I don’t really like it but it makes me think about other views. A broader diet of good content will stop you becoming reactionary and bored.

Why does any of this matter? Well, in the rush to make more people work at home our echo chambers will change from office-based ones to social media ones and in this environment companies will have even less contact with staff and understanding about what they really think.

Mental health is a serious issue for companies who relish the cost savings of people at home but are thinking less about how people left (very literally) to their own devices for days fend for themselves.

It may be that self-care might be the only effective way forward and in this case I simply implore you to watch what you consume lest you end up writing a blog that highlights your issue with brussels sprouts.


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