Social Media Cleanup Is Self Care

Tips for maintaining a positive digital footprint.

Google yourself. Go ahead, do it. How’d you look?

We’d bet your DIY headshot on LinkedIn pops up first and looks super glossy and pro. But what about that blog about your international travels in your early twenties? Or that time you wrote some freelance articles for your cousin's nonprofit? Do the algorithms float those links to the top? Are those the things you now identify with and want the world to know?

What is a social media cleanup?

No matter how heavy-handed the privacy settings claim to be, you’re probably more searchable than you think. But it’s not just Google we’re talking about. Let’s comb through all of your various accounts: We’re talking Facebook, Insta, Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat… did we miss any? If you’ve got a profile, let’s give it a review.

Why? Because the internet is forever.

And because you’ve likely had some of these accounts for longer than you can remember. Your passwords are saved. You probably sign in with a thumbprint or leave the app open. Because you use it regularly. And that’s cool.

Now, however, it’s time for a social media intervention.

  • Are you using your social media in a way that leaves you feeling bad or insecure or left out? Are you overly concerned with how others view you? Are you obsessively checking your notifications, like, even while you’re driving?
  • Is your social media use bringing something positive to the table? Does it spark joy? (Is that still a relevant cultural reference?) Does it help you keep in touch with people who matter to you? Does it help you feel connected to a community? Does social media keep you in the loop about local on goings and events that you will experience in person?

Brass tacks: We want to do a social media cleanup for several reasons. Some are personal and directly attributed to your mental health. Some are more self-serving and maybe even a pinch shallow. But social media is complicated and we’ve all got complicated relationships with it. That’s normal.

Ask yourself: How do you want to be perceived? Because your social media presence is actually an extension of yourself. And how you appear on social media is how people are perceiving you. Especially your “friends,” who might not really know you on a deeper, more personal IRL level.

We’re going to cover some of the following topics and reasons to clean up your social media presence and tell you how you can go about doing so. It might seem a bit tedious, but think of all the time you waste spend scrolling anyway. Surely you’ve got an hour or two to do some unfriending, unfollowing and editing. After all, it’s to benefit you.

So buckle up, friend. We’re going to perform a social media cleanup. This means:

  • Deleting regrettable or embarrassing content.

    • Nostalgia is nice, but temperature check those old posts. You’ve seen those memes, where they’re like “No one is more embarrassing than my 2010 Facebook statuses.” We get it. We were there posting Incubus lyrics and imploring our network of internet acquaintances to “hmu,” too.
    • Did you post something that might come across as ignorant, mean or offensive? Even if you don’t plan for running for office someday, it’s worth scrolling back a ways to make sure that whatever dumb stuff you posted in college doesn’t come back to haunt — or cancel — you. Of course, being offended is entirely subjective. What you think is okay could very well be misperceived as ugly or hateful. If you’re not sure about whether or not something is offensive, try getting a second opinion from someone you trust. But you might be surprised by how much you’ve grown since starting your internet journey.
  • Recognizing and addressing unproductive and unhealthy patterns.

    • Do you find yourself spiraling, doom scrolling, or lacking the time management skills to get stuff done because of social media?
  • Stop wasting (lots of) time.

    • Be mindful. Be realistic. Set personal boundaries and goals and stick to them. Know your limits. And all that stuff.
  • Revamping your personal brand/persona.

    • Here’s the other side of the coin: You’re using social media to present an image to the world, your friends, and community. Potentially even coworkers. So let’s make sure that that image is one that is reasonably accurate, somewhat flattering, and mildly attractive. Or maybe coming across on social media as real and honest (and oh-so-charming!) is your thing. Social media is your chance to edit your persona before presenting it to the masses. However it is you want to appear, do it and do it well. Own it and perfect it. Or why bother at all?
  • Unfriending/unfollowing toxic people or influencers.
    • Is that one podcast host you used to be into still giving truly helpful advice? Are their views and opinions benefitting you as a person? Is that politician you voted for years ago still serving your present day morals and ethics? Do you feel a flush of stress every time you see your uncle’s misguided Facebook posts? It might be time to cut them loose. There’s no need to clutter up your headspace and newsfeed with negative or unhelpful content.

Why you should clean up your social media

If you find that your social media use is causing you to feel any (or all!) of the following feels, we suggest it’s time for a social media cleanup:

  • Poor self esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Insomnia
  • FOMO

Let’s be clear. All of those feelings are entirely normal.

Scrolling through photos of hundreds of people you sort of know who are constantly cooking gourmet meals on weeknights and always seem to be celebrating their 3000th Peloton ride — while flaunting their impeccable skin, handsome partner and well-dressed kiddos — well, that’s a lot of impressions. Those impressions stick in your brain, setting unrealistically high standards and generating a (probably) false narrative.

Ugh, why do we even care about those people in the first place? Are the puppy photos and drag queen reels worth the stress? Sometimes.

Cleaning up your social media will amplify the positives, focusing on your actual friends and people you enjoy following because their content is generally uplifting, interesting or clever.

How to clean up your social media

  • Take inventory of past posts.

    • Does that Tweet seem overly emotional? In hindsight, was that status update too much information? Was that reactionary? Do these words still accurately represent your opinion on this subject matter? Was that photo a bit too revealing?
    • What may have seemed articulate and well thought out at the time might come across as cringey or embarrassing now. And it’s okay to delete it. Yes, people already read that… but does it need to continue to exist? You don’t have to be that person you were a decade ago. Make your profile accurately reflect who you are right now.
    • You can use the “Memories” tab on Facebook to bulk edit your old posts.
    • And, hey, if that photo was revealing and you love it and it makes you proud (and you’ve adjusted the privacy settings so your dad won’t see it), good for you.
  • Make sure your privacy settings are up to date on all apps.

    • Privacy settings vary from app to app, and companies are constantly updating and amending their policies. Best to check in with your privacy settings monthly to ensure that people are only able to see what you’re permitting them to see.
    • Don’t allow people to tag you in posts without permission.
  • Deactivate old accounts you no longer use.

    • Do an audit of your old accounts, usernames and logins to various sites. This site Just Delete Me can help you to identify all of your past accounts by your email address and help you to manage or erase them. (Prepare to be overwhelmed.)
  • Try to use good judgment and discretion when posting. Know thy audience.

    • Future employees and your great aunt might be seeing this content. (All the more reason to check those privacy settings, though.)
  • Unfriend + Unfollow.

    • This could be time consuming, but it’ll freshen up your feed and free your mind. If you don’t actually care about a person, thing or celebrity, unsubscribe. If someone posts a lot of controversial garbage and your guilty pleasure is getting lost in the comments section, ask yourself: Is this the best use of my time?
  • Conduct a personality vs. accuracy evaluation.

    • Think of your top five traits or characteristics. Like, how would you describe yourself to somebody? Do your social media profiles accurately represent your perceived personality? Does each post and share convey one of those traits?
    • Feel free to edit as necessary to achieve an online persona that genuinely reflects how you see yourself and how you want to be seen.
  • Manage your social media time with apps like Freedom or Self Control.

    • No shame in resorting to a third party for accountability’s sake.

Social media is all fun and games until it becomes compulsive, annoying, and burdensome. If you find that your social media usage is bringing you down, give it a cleanup. Maybe your feed just needs a facelift. Add some fresh follows that make you feel warm and fuzzy, give you a laugh, or validate your feelings by being all too relatable. And while you’re at it, try giving your actual computer screen a wipe down for an even cleaner and more enjoyable scrolling experience.

Related Articles

Tricks for Cleaning Your House Like a Pro

With all of these tips and tricks, you, too, can clean your house like a professional.

Tips for Working Happier with an Organized Desk

The more tidy and organized your desk, the better you’ll feel about having to show up at work (even when work is at home). Here’s how and why you should organize your desk.

Tips for Better Closet Organization and a Calmer Home

Maintaining an organized closet is an artform and oh-so rewarding. Here’s how to organize it.

Spring Cleaning Checklist (Printable): By Room Guide

A room-by-room spring cleaning checklist that will have your home spotless. From scrubbing your bathroom to deep cleaning your kitchen, we’ve got you covered.

Your One-Stop Fall Cleaning Checklist

A comprehensive and approachable checklist for fall cleaning your home, inside and out–plus helpful hints and product recommendations.

Why Stress Cleaning Actually Helps You Feel Better

Stress cleaning is a productive outlet for your anxious energy.

The Foolproof Way to Get Wax Out of Carpet

Oops, you dripped candle wax on the floor. Never fear — we have a helpful how-to guide for removing spilled wax from carpet.

The 6/10 Cleaning Method Just Might Change Your Life

The 6/10 cleaning method can reduce stress associated with accomplishing daily and weekly chores.