About three years ago, I made the decision to delete all of my social media accounts. I decided that I valued my privacy more than immediate connection, and found Facebook in particular to be a massive energy vampire. Fast forward to present day, as the proprietor of a therapy practice that exists solely in cyberspace, it seemed faintly ridiculous to continue my all or nothing ban on all things Facebook. It made me wonder if perhaps there is some middle ground between mindlessly scrolling through my feed at all hours, and shunning social media completely. Here are some suggestions that I will be employing over the coming weeks to see if I can’t make this social media experience healthier and more enjoyable. I hope you find them helpful too!
- Put an end to mindless scrolling! Back when my social media misery was at its peak, I would scroll through Facebook reflexively, whenever I had an unfilled moment or two. While waiting in line at the pharmacy, waiting for a client who was a few minutes late, waiting for a movie to start; slowly, insidiously, I started to spend more and more time on Facebook. It always left me with a vague feeling of sadness. It was like filling up on the social breadbasket, fun in the moment, but I needed a more balanced meal. This time around, I plan to limit the social snacking. Helpful ways to manage this include not having Facebook on your phone, only checking social media accounts when you’ve made an intentional decision to do so, and setting time limits on your browsing.
- Take what you see with a boulder sized grain of salt! Most social media profiles are carefully cultivated to portray an image and a lifestyle that people want, and want others to believe they have. We post selfies at our best moments, not our worst. I share the Martha Stewart worthy food pictures, and no one ever sees the time I set my kitchen on fire while hard boiling eggs. Over time, these representations become our reality, and we find our own sadly lacking in comparison. Remember, that for every perfectly posed vacation photo, there are 50 or so unseen images of that same person getting up for work, tripping over the cat, and spilling coffee all over a brand new white, linen blazer.
- Be mindful of your mood! Most of us have become so accustomed to social media’s presence in our lives, that we don’t often take the time to ask how we feel while we engage with it. Do you feel happy, content, and relaxed while scrolling through your feed? Do you feel sad, anxious, angry, or empty? If the latter is true more often than the former, it’s time to examine what it is about your social media accounts that contributes to these negative emotions.
- Nourish your offline friendships too! Life is so hectic; you’re likely pursuing a career, engaging in hobbies, raising children, taking care of pets; time is precious. We find ourselves living farther and farther away from friends and family, in a society that’s becoming increasingly mobile. When it seems like there is never time to pick up a phone, or meet up for coffee, it becomes quite tempting to try and get those needs met online. A few clicks leaves you feeling more connected, so what’s the harm? Humans are social animals, and we need the benefits that an in-person social network provides, in addition to the virtual network. Additionally, socializing in person forces you to take vital breaks from the daily grind. It’s a time to relax and recharge that you may miss out on if you neglect your offline relationships.
I hope this was helpful, and I’ll be checking back in a few weeks to see if the above points have helped to maintain my social media/social life balance. Happy clicking!
Dr. Scrivani specializes in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders, and provides tele-mental health services to residents of New York and Florida. Call (888) 535-5671 or email [email protected]