Over the past several decades, with the advent of social media and hand-held smart devices, we have become increasingly connected to the world around us. Yet, studies show we are feeling lonelier than ever.
When social media platforms such as Facebook emerged, they offered a way to reconnect with long lost friends and out of state relatives. Since those early days, however, it has turned into a place to be seen, a place to curate a personal image that is often not at all close to the reality of everyday life…a highlight reel. We begin to compare our everyday lives to those of our “friends” highlights and we begin to feel left out.
We post updates, waiting for validation (likes, comments, shares) that rarely comes in the waves we hope. We obsess over who didn’t like our posts. We create false narratives in our heads. We question our worth.
Yet, we keep going back for more, positive that our next update is going to be “the one!”
Beyond this social aspect, our social media feeds have also become a place of unfettered opinions and venting. With today’s political climate it is impossible to avoid controversial topics and even harder to avoid the countless trolls whose sole purpose is to pick fights and bring people down. We become frantic keyboard warriors, determined to take down our adversaries. It usually gets ugly pretty fast.
Yet, we keep going back for more, positive that we can change minds and hearts with our keystrokes.
All of this can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness. Studies aside, only we can judge the impact of social media on our own lives. It’s important to take a hard look at how your social media usage is impacting your day to day life.
Do you feel better or worse about yourself after time spent on social media apps? Do you feel uplifted or beat down? Assess your chest. You know, that heavy feeling that often accompanies feelings of sadness and loneliness. Is it there?
Reassessing your social media usage could do you some good!
Read on for a few suggestions on how to have a healthier relationship with Social Media (and therefore a healthier you):
- Regularly evaluate how and why you use social media and whether those reasons bring you joy or anxiety.
- If you notice greater anxiety, take a break. A day. A week. A month. Maybe longer. Whatever it takes. Remove the apps from your device. If you can’t self-regulate, ask a trusted friend to change your password.
- After your break, limit your time to no more than 30 minutes a day for all social media apps. (Imagine all that you can accomplish with that extra time!)
- Again, if you can’t self-regulate, track your screen time (often available in device) or via apps such as Moment. The results may shock you.
- Do not overshare. This will only bring you back, repeatedly, waiting for likes and comments.
- Block or unfollow toxic people and pages and leave toxic groups. You know who they are. Just do it.
- Use social media for good. Join groups that focus on positive interactions and actions.
- Always be aware of how social media makes you feel and repeat the above as needed.
Let us know your thoughts on social media in the comments!