When we jumped on the social media party bus, we thought it would be the ticket to Friendsville. But while it has many upsides, social media can bring on the blues.

Is it possible to enjoy the party online with feeling the hangover? Absolutely! With these 5 keys below, you can enjoy social media again (and stop feeling like a boring, underachieving loser).

1. Why are you on social media to begin with?

Let’s go back to the beginning when you first heard of sites like Facebook and Twitter. You thought, “Oh, what a neat way to keep in touch with my friends. I’m in!” Kept in that frame—a way to stay in touch—social media is just a tool.

Somewhere along the line, we tended to get manipulated by numbers: how many friends you have, how many friends your friends have, how many people liked your posts, etc. It became about quantity, not quality.

Think about why you are on social media. Let it be a thing that adds to your life, not a thing that defines it. Be very concerned if it becomes your life. Instead of spending hours mindlessly trolling, take control so that you get what you want out of the experience. Make a list of the top 12 people you really want to stay in touch with. Write them a private message, saying something like, “You are someone I want to keep in touch with.” Then, once a week, write a longer message to one person on your list. Develop friendships of quality, not just quantity.

2. Why are you sharing that?

Much of the fun of social media is reading funny comments. Some of the worst of social media comes from the maniacal overshare that we can all fall into from time to time.

Before you share a status or comment, ask yourself, “Why do I feel the need to share this?” Sometimes sharing from the public announcement platform is convenient and appropriate—and hilarious. But not all the time.

Filling out those instant little messages in privacy, we sometimes lose sight of the bigger audience in the room. Now, with running update features, you never know who will see what you post or in which context they will see it.

Would you stand up in a public restaurant and announce that you just ate too much? Would you walk into a party and tell everyone about the tight pantyhose bunching in your nether regions? If the answer is no, think twice about sharing it on social media. There are more personal ways to share your life with the people who have earned your trust and respect—or who appreciate your humor.

When you recognize that you are needing love and support, use the private message feature and select the people with whom you choose to share. A bit of discretion will help cut out the shame hangover.

3. Comparison is the thief of happiness.

Brené Brown has popularized this phrase from  Laura Williams. It so good I just can’t top it, and it is a huge key to enjoying social media.

If you go on to social media and compare your life, achievements, body, house, children, spouse, cooking, writing or world to what you find there, you are setting yourself up to feel straight nasty in no time. It will take you right back to childhood when your siblings always got the better deal. If you still want to keep playing out that script, go right ahead, but it will leave you forever in the role of “not good enough.”

Try this: when you see the things that others have or have achieved, add them to your list of cool things: “Oh, maybe next year I’ll make that Halloween costume.” And, “Maybe I’ll do some research to see how we can vacation there.” Those things are not off-limits to you; they just haven’t happened yet.

Or, play the Gratitude Game. For the things that really hit your envy button, make a list of 10 things in your life for which you can feel genuinely grateful. It’s hardly original, but it works if you work at it. Then, if you get to a point where you feel like there’s nothing in your life worth giving thanks for, get yourself to a homeless shelter, battered women’s shelter, emergency youth shelter, or elder care facility STAT. It’s time for a reality check!

4. Give yourself a limit.

You’ve heard of FOMO? It’s the fear of missing out. When you’re enjoying a party, it makes sense to stay. But sometimes you’re not actually enjoying yourself; you’re just sticking around because you don’t have anything better to do or you’re afraid something awesome will happen the minute you leave.

Here’s the deal: you’re not going to be in on everything. And just maybe by staying at the party, you missed an even better time unfolding somewhere else. Just like a casino, many social media sites are designed to keep you there. You have to practice some self-control and get out. Don’t let your boredom or your FOMO suck the fun out.

Try to have your social media time with a limit, like the 10 minutes over your morning coffee. Or the 20 minutes before your date arrives. Just enough time to feel like you’ve dropped in and said, “Hi.” If you’re used to long stretches of social media during a commute, start cutting back once a week with a trade out for a motivational podcast. Or read a book!

5. Remember it’s not real.

We loved watching movies in my house growing up. My mom had a catch phrase for when movies had effects that were over-the-top or endings that would never happen in real life. She do jazz hands and sing, “Hollywood!” It signaled to us: Remember it’s not real!

The online scene has become as absurd and trumped-up as a Hollywood movie. But you’re brain doesn’t always recognize it because it stars people you know. You have to keep in mind that it’s not real. It’s not totally fake, either, which is why we can get so lost in it.

Everyone on these sites are self-selecting their images and shares, even you and me. We’ve all turned into to little marketers, putting our best on display. Sure, maybe some are better at it than others, but none of it is the whole story.

See it for what it is. Have fun with it!

Choose how you want to play. Perhaps you can do a month of shares with a theme. Try a seventies theme, Star Wars, write like a noir private detective. Make up a game with three of your friends and challenge each other to mix obscure words into your status shares. If someone catches on, bring them into the game.

If it’s not real, then you get to decide who and how you want to be. I’m not saying lie…I’m saying do it with jazz hands!

What strategy will you use to re-claim your “Like” of social media? Did I spark any ideas that could help others? Any thumbs-down action? Share in the comments below.

After a little research and some personal reflection on the situation, I came up with a list of rules to follow so as not to cause any more exclusion from social media outlets. 10 Steps to Avoid When Promoting on Social Media

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