Social media has totally changed the world and many think for the better. A way to communicate with friends or family? Especially those that live abroad or far away. A way to share pictures of your life with those close to you. Or a way to share funny quotes or jokes. A way to connect?……
But what if you are struggling? What if you are in a difficult place in your life and then you see a stream of photos of ‘happiness’. Not many people post pictures of anything unhappy or even express stress or upset on social media. It is usually a platform to express the positive side of our life. If you think about it really – a lot of it isn’t real. That doesn’t mean those experiences aren’t real – but they certainly aren’t all of life and they can’t be everyone’s day to day reality.
Social media creates a place for comparison. And comparison is ultimately the thief of joy. Where ever people are in life , they will look around and see what others are doing. This means they can get drawn into thinking they should be doing that too. But really?? We can’t all be the same. And why would we even want to be?? It is ok to be different – to choose a different path and to be proud of that. But social media draws people into the world of ‘I should’. Fundamentally there is no such thing.
Social media can raise anxiety for people – for a lot of different reasons. It displays and shows when people are ‘on line’. Often people can feel why is this person always on line but not actually communicating with me? Perhaps they haven’t come back about something or responded to something. Meanwhile social media displays and shows them doing something else or simply being active. What does that do to relationships?? How does it fuel insecurities and fears?
Social media can also raise anxiety for different reasons – comparison can lead to insecurity and it can also trigger depression for many different reasons. Ultimately we all feel better when we truly connect. With people and with the world. All of our relationships develop and grow when quality time is spent together. That cant happen if everything is done on line.
A lot of people can feel low if they see others out having fun and a good time, when they are currently struggling to leave the house or engage with friends. Others can feel insecure about their looks or weight if they see others posting pictures that they think look ‘amazing’. Mental health can really suffer if people spend too much time on social media.
With clients I often talk about taking a break from social media. If you imagine someone is living with an eating disorder for example – how dangerous can social media be? Images, blogs, fitness talk, food talk – you name it. It is all so triggering. The same goes for any kind of addiction really. It is far safer and healthier to stay away from social media when you are in recovery. It doesn’t add to your life – in fact if you think about it – it takes you away from real life.
In line with that using social media can become addictive – a person can find themselves looking at facebook or Instagram for hours of their day. Thinking it’s only a few minutes here and there. But what does that really do? How does that add value? If you think about it – if anything – it is a form of escapism and a way to disconnect from reality.
This isn’t to say that social media doesn’t have some benefits and can’t be positive in some ways. But it is so important to recognise when it is having a negative impact on your life. If every time you log on you feel worse for it. Then take a break. If there are people on your friends list that bring you down or make you feel low – unfollow them or take them off entirely. You don’t need to have anyone in your life that does that or anyone you feel you ‘should’ be in contact with.
The world of social media can be fun, light hearted and allow people to connect. But it can also be dangerous and bring people down a lot. It isn’t always healthy for any kind of relationship and it can trigger a lot of negative emotions. Take stock. What’s the impact on your life? Next time you are on line, think about it. Do you really need to be there right now?
At the end of the day being present in your life is far more important – and the ability to engage fully in whatever it is you are doing – is far more meaningful. Think about it – take some time out now and then.