Maintaining a Healthy Relationship with Social Media

Social media has allowed us to connect with loved ones and meet people from all over the world. It can be a great tool for promoting a business and provide convenience regarding online shopping. I love seeing pictures and hearing about the milestones of acquaintances and friends. It is a great way to hear about and celebrate the minor and major life events of friends and family. All in all, social media platforms are a good medium and a free way to stay connected and communicate with our social circle. In light of what is happening with the pandemic-it has been an important and efficient way to help people avoid isolation. We are social creatures. Even introverts and loners need some level of interaction with others. In fact, when we connect with others, we release a hormone, Oxytocin. This helps us to bond with others and makes us feel good.

Problems can arise with social media when there is excessive use. FOMO (fear of missing out), comparing, self-esteem issues, anxiety, isolation and depression can be heightened when one spends a significant amount of time scrolling, posting and fishing for “likes”, rather than living. What one is following (again excessively) on social media can also be distressing, such as the pandemic, violence, etc.

The danger zone can surface when people are reaching for their devices in lieu of spending time with others in person. Although people are limited right now in terms of social interactions, for those of us that live with others, it can be helpful to make time for that in person interaction. Cell phones/social media use are often a big complaint in relationships in general, but especially in romantic ones. Many people are guilty of having their devices in hand, eyes on the screen, while half-heartedly engaging in a conversation with their loved ones. For those of us who have been on the receiving end of this, it can be frustrating as we feel that person is not fully present to us.

Another issue with social media is that people may look at other’s posts and feel envious and dissatisfied with their own lives. Something to keep in mind is that many people tend to post their best pictures, selfies and stories; they want to promote images of success. Seeing such posts may strike a chord of envy, especially if that person has something you want. If that is the case, reflect on that person may have worked really hard behind the scenes in order to get to where they are. Then reflect on goals you want to set in order to achieve what you feel is missing in your life. At the same time, compare you to you! President Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Celebrate all your unique strengths, abilities and achievements. Avoid the comparison trap!

In terms of assessing your relationship to social media-consider how many hours you are spending on social media. Many people say they waste so much time on the screen time. Is such time taking time away from other areas that are important to your overall productivity and wellness? If so, it may be helpful to monitor your screen time on your phone. You can even set alarms with a cut off time as a tangible reminder.

If you have FOMO-ask yourself-what you might be missing out on while scrolling. Put the phone away and do a device detox for a few hours, a day or a weekend. Alert your friends and family that you will be doing this, so that they can contact a backup person in case of an emergency. In lieu of device time, engage in some other forms of relaxing and or connecting with others.

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