Singing the Social Media Blues
At some point over the past two years, you’ve probably read about studies that say increased use of social media can cause loneliness and depression.
There’s a good chance you read about it ON social media.
In less than two decades, social media has become a cornerstone of our society and our personal lives. The promise of social media was potent: we could connect with the wider world and share ourselves in a depth and breadth that had never been possible before. And in more ways than we could have imagined, that promise was fulfilled.
But how did something that had such possibility to connect us leave us feeling so alone?
Social media inherently causes comparison. We see people’s curated lives. We see the best angles, moments, and thoughts. Our brains see these and say, “Gosh, I NEVER look that good. My life is NEVER that exciting.” We compare our worst moments and the worst parts of ourselves to others’ best. The result is we are left feeling someway inadequate.
These feelings of inadequacy can easily turn into loneliness and isolation. We feel that we can’t compare to what we see on social media. We feel different. Lacking. Ashamed.
How could you not feel lonely or depressed?
It’s not possible. If you are constantly comparing yourself to others and find yourself lacking, neither self-love nor joy nor self-compassion can thrive. Those are the things we need to be emotionally healthy.
I’m not saying that social media is evil and you should never use it. It can have a place in our lives. In fact, I am going to promote this post on my Instagram account.
I do think we can make better, healthier choices when it comes to our social media consumption.
First, people often substitute social media for meaningful, real life relationships. While interactions on social media can be helpful, they can lack the feeling of connectedness that results from interacting with people in real life.
Try to schedule time for interacting with people away from screens and work. It could be volunteering or simply going to a coffee shop. That time can help you feel more connected other people and to your community.
Find ways you can be fully present in your life. Instead of focusing on how you and what you do compare to what you see on social media, take time to become aware of the moment. Are there things you haven’t noticed before? Are there things that bring you peace and joy you may have missed?
Finally, be thoughtful about who and what you engage with on social media. Unfollow what makes you feel bad about yourself. Defriend those who say things that cause you pain. Chose instead to look at what lifts you up and bring you joy.
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