Is your emotional health being sustained with the technological equivalent of fast food every day? What are the signs that your intake is unhealthy? What can you do? Read this and understand your social media bloatiness, how it occurs and what you can do to address it.
My prompt for writing this article is the various hashtags that are circulating which are summed up by #DeleteFacebookNow These are in response to the revelations about data leaks and targeting of people’s personal data by Cambridge Analytica. If fears about the use of your personal data reduce your use of social media then we are fine with this, but here at Calm People, we have been observing social media behaviour for many years and have other reasons to suggest a social media diet.
This post is not just about Facebook it is about our general use of social media from Twitter to LinkedIn and everything in between. But Facebook led the charge in to our lives and for good reasons. It gave us a great platform to stay in touch with friends be they old, new or current. It was a nice place to share photos and updates and news. In brief a really great friendship communication tool.
Now it, and other social media platforms are ways for businesses to target us to sell more stuff and for political organizations to find ways to influence use that would never have been allowed on TV by the Advertising Standards Authority.
More importantly, yes, more importantly, they have become ways for us to compare ourselves to others with toxic levels of disgust, places for us to become addicted to getting our Selfie Esteem topped up and a place to dramatically increase our fear of missing out (FOMO).
Symptoms of Social Media Bloatiness
If you need to go on a social media diet you will have telltale symptoms of social media bloatiness and they come in several guises. Namely, our relationship with stress, our unhealthy self esteem, our damaging communications and the unhelpful ways we compare ourselves to others.
Stress, at its core is about fear. If we do not feel great about ourselves, then exposing ourselves to a platform that is predicated on sharing the best bits of our lives can be quite damaging. Few people use social media to share everything that is happening. That is called over sharing. Also we are encouraged culturally to share when we are happy and to keep quiet when we are not.
Social media is great for developing the fear of missing out which is why we feel we need to be connected all the time. We don’t need to be connected all the time.
It is also great for enhancing the false view that everyone else is having a better time than me.
These 3 issues increase our fears and thus our stress levels.
“If we do not feel great about ourselves, then exposing ourselves to a platform that is predicated on sharing the best bits of our lives can be quite damaging.”
Our unhelpful comparisons with others
As humans we are competitive. That is what has helped us evolve and survive. Our evolution has got to the point now where survival is not really the biggest issue for most of us in this, the 21st century developed world. To compete you need to compare. To get in to the comparison game you have to be resilient because there will always be someone somewhere who appears to be better, stronger or having a better time.
Maybe it’s better not to compare. Maybe we can acknowledge everyone elses good time and enjoy ours for what it is. Maybe, when we are feeling low we can also acknowledge that these things happen and these feelings pass.
If you use social media to compare your life to others it is unhealthy!
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.
Our self esteem
This is a complicated subject that has already been touched upon in the previous 2 paragraphs. The most obvious connection though, is the ways we try to get ourselves heard. listened to, seen, admired and validated. We are trying to get others to boost our self esteem through the responses we get and the likes we score. The thing about unhealthy self esteem is that the more we feed it the hungrier it gets. 10 likes to day will not be enough in a week. It grows and grows.
“The thing about unhealthy self esteem is that the more we feed it the hungrier it gets.”
Our damaging communications
Acting out our passive aggression or sometimes, our aggression, on social media is simply a way to add fuel to the fire that burns within us. We say things online to others that we would never say to their face. We hurt others and in turn we get hurt. Type written communication can also be badly misunderstood because we leave out detail (too lazy to type everything I would say) make typos (fat finger syndrome) and fail to spot the odd predictive text error. Also, no number of emojis can make up for hearing tone and seeing body language. It is a recipe for disaster. No wonder we get hurt.
“no number of emojis can make up for hearing tone and seeing body language. It is a recipe for disaster. No wonder we get hurt.“
These things affect our children the most but don’t think you are exempt. Where do you think your kids picked all this up from? Children learn the most from role modelling and their strongest most consistent role models are their parents.
“Children learn the most from role modelling and their strongest most consistent role models are their parents.”
The social media diet – Try this
- Turn off your phone/ social media notifications for 2 hours at a time. Allow yourself 15 min social breaks to indulge. Watch, you will not miss out.
- Improve your diet by recognising which social media feeds are helpful and which are not. Switch off the unhealthy feeds, unfriend the aggressive and needy ones.
- Plan to do something else with the time you save looking at your phone such as –
- Being present
- Actually talking to another human being face to face about life in general.
Can you add any other ways you can improve your social media diet?