How we see the world shapes who we choose to be — and sharing compelling experiences can frame the way we treat each other, for the better. This is a powerful perspective.
Everyone seems to have KonMari fever. From her 2016 bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: A Magical Story,” fans of the book began adopting her tidying methods to organize their spaces and, by extension, their lives.
People are once again being swept into the magic of organization with the success of Netflix’s “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” making new fans for the Japanese organizational guru.
For many, the hyperfocus on the KonMari method has been about physical spaces. But what about our mental and digital ones? If we can adapt the KonMari method to our closets and garages, why not use it to organize our social media?
“Tidying up” comes at a time where there’s also been a significant amount of online backlash against communities of color. For Kondo, racist attacks have risen, ranging from photoshopped memes and harassing tweets that weaponize “Kondo’s phrases and Shinto-specific teachings.”
According to Muqing Zhang, for Paper Magazine, the root of these attacks seems to come from white people’s defensiveness of not wanting to part with items of significant sentimental value (especially books).
It’s important for us to reclaim our peace in social media spaces
Targeted harassment against marginalized communities is nothing new, but it reminds me of how important it is for us to reclaim our peace by embracing safe, tidy social media spaces.
At the start of the new year, I knew I was up for the challenge. Not just because I needed to clear out the follower count I had amassed over the year, but because as a Black woman, having a regular “tidying up” of my digital spaces is essential to enjoying them.
As much as I love the personal interactions and community building that comes with using social media, there’s also a downside. Being open online can make you a target.
Why? Because to be openly Black, queer, femme, or carry any other marginalized identity is to essentially make yourself a target for those that mean to cause you harm.
I’ve had to naturally shift how I use social media over the years. My digital spaces have transitioned from just fun personal accounts to ones that I think about consciously using or as a personal brand. From being a former blogger to a writer and sex educator, it means that my online interactions are an important part of the jobs that I do.
As a naturally introverted person, interacting with people online helped to ease my anxieties. It was less pressure to be on-the-spot funny and witty when I could temper my thoughts behind a keyboard. And I found community in various spaces I was a part of.
The toll that so many Black and non-Black people of color pay to simply be online is an unjust burden. There are so many fellow Black women and femme writers and activists that worry about being doxxed and trolled at higher rates than other social media users, calling for monetary support from their followers to help offset some of that weight of hypervisibility online.
But at the same time, social media is a place where marginalized users can put themselves first. The KonMari method becomes an important reminder of how to do this.
So what does applying the KonMari method to social media actually look like?
The KonMari method emphasizes personal feelings as a guide for what should stay or leave.
Does this spark joy for you?
When it comes to people and the less tangible connections, figuring out who “sparks joy” can be more challenging than deciding between sweaters you haven’t worn in over a year.
And that starts with taking a good look at our social media spaces. Specifically for Instagram, it’s easy to follow (or even own) multiple accounts — influencers, other people in the fields we’re in, brands that we buy from regularly, meme pages, people that we knew back in high school.
Some of the biggest energy blockers that can enter our digital space are the “polite follows” — people that we might know IRL and don’t want to publicly unfollow because of potentially throwing off the personal dynamic between you two.
For me, determining who “sparks joy” means looking at the page itself
Do they post things that make me feel good, or bring up negative feelings of comparison, jealousy, or resentment? Does the content on their page make me feel motivated to continue doing the work that I do, or does it make me feel negative about my own work?
These are questions that often come up for me in cleaning my own timeline.
Looking at the wild assortment of pages I followed across my various accounts, it became clear that I didn’t let my space grow with me. I was still following accounts that didn’t fit my values or where I was in this current stage of my life.
When I looked at these previous accounts, all I saw were the fragments of the past me: the jokes, fashion, interests, and things that once served me, but no longer fit (like a sweater I’d outgrown).
And worse yet was that looking at these accounts only made me feel guilty, anxious, and caught in a walk down memory lane, stuck in a cycle of “what if’s” and anxious retrospections.
Coming to the realization that I was sitting with so many mental health blocks from these accounts, I knew that I needed to declutter my digital space, to make room for accounts that would inspire the change I wanted to see — rather than not-so-great reminders of where I’ve come from.
Another consideration is examining why I’m following people
If I follow the account for my favorite store, for example, I could choose to subscribe to their email list or keep tabs by turning on notifications for their posts. If you’re determining whether someone’s personal account sparks joy for you, look at their other active social media accounts.
If this is someone from your past, for example, you’re not obligated to follow them on every social media platform. If you want to keep in touch with old friends or people from your past, you can also text, email, or even snail mail.
When it comes to social media, let go of the burden of obligation to our actions. We’re not required to follow someone’s account that doesn’t make us want to be our best selves, no matter how much we may like the person in real life.
Applying the KonMari method to my own social media made me feel like I was giving myself permission to look at my social media as a tool that’s in my control, rather than something that I just use unconsciously.
Following accounts that only sparked joy for me made me feel like social media could actually be fun again, rather than a constant reminder of how marginalized users are often seen through algorithms.
I felt lighter, more excited to actually log on, and I wanted to be a more conscious user rather than a passive one.
It also had an interesting trickle effect to other aspects of my life: “tidying up” my social media made me take a hard look at what I wanted these spaces to look like, and what I wanted success, networking, branding, and messages I put out into the world to really look like.
The ability to curate our feeds is part of the fun of being on social media in the first place. It’s less about the exact number of accounts you follow and more about the importance of how you feel curating your digital spaces.
Cameron Glover is a writer, sex educator, and digital superhero. She has written for publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Bitch Media, Catapult, Pacific Standard, and Allure. You can reach out to her on Twitter.