This social media thing almost seemed to come out of nowhere. Well, not really, I guess it all kind of started years ago with MySpace. Myspace, do you remember that one? What ever happened to MySpace? I guess they became the Nokia of the social media world…I can’t help but feel sad, for both.
But this social media thing, that’s not really a thing, but has pretty much become a way of life. Within a few short years, we’ve morphed in to a culture of pictures, posts, likes and shares, but none of it came with a rule book on how to handle it all. Who’d have thought we actually need to KNOW how to handle it all?
And as much as social media is fun and handy and gives us to-the-second updates about what’s happening with both world economics and the Kardashian sisters (I’m not sure which is searched more, but if I think about it, I don’t want to know), we need to be more aware of how we approach this whole online world.
So here are 3 ways social media can be harmful to us and what we can do about it.
Following people who constantly post photos of their (seemingly, but not really) perfect lives.
As in the people who’s outfits, relationships, vacations, meals, social lives etc. always look amazing, fulfilling, incredible, exciting or way more monochromatic than is normal. Oh, and who also have the perfect calm, quiet, 12 hour a night sleeping babies they like to dress in white from head to toe. I mean, come on! Who dresses a baby in an $80 white romper? As if to say ‘here is my perfect little angel who never would ever dare to burp, spit up, smash food or dirt or something she found between the couch cushions all over herself.’ I mean, seriously.
And the reason this can be harmful is when we are bombarded with these seemingly ‘real’ but in actual fact, fake phony, posed, edited and airbrushed photos, we can quickly find ourselves thinking, “oh gosh, what is wrong with me and my boring, messy, chaotic, lumpy, or emotional life???” And the answer is, nothing. YOU are normal. But it’s hard to believe it when that’s all we see online.
So the solution? Unless it would cause harm to a real life relationship, unfollow or unfreind. And if that’s not an option, a) just stop looking at anyone’s posts that bring up any weird, inferior, or insecure feelings in you, or b) makes you start to consider that $80 for a sleeper the baby will fit in to for 2.5 weeks is a good idea.
Always trying to capture the moment.
And never actually experiencing the moment. You know, those times when you’re out and someone in the group is like “okay, everyone pose and do that thing you were just doing that made it look like we were all having a great time! No, not quite like that. Oh, I look weird in this one. One more photo. Now from this side. Now from over here where the light is hitting differently. Oh shoot, now one with everyone laughing and having a good time. Now with everyone looking at each other and acting like we’re all engaged in super deep and life altering conversations. One more. Now from this side…”
And the night is done and the moments may have been captured, but never actually experienced.
I kind of miss film cameras. Where you would take about 2 shots MAX, and then keep doing what you were doing because developing this role was going to cost you like 16 bucks.
Do you remember those times? Where people actually enjoyed being together instead of everyone trying to look like they were enjoying being together so they could splash their fabulous lives, fabulous food, and fabulous friends all over social media every 3 to 4 seconds?
Solution: 11 photos max. Not per minute. Per event. Period. And if you don’t get the shot, get out more.
Getting sucked in to the crap.
Do you know what one of the biggest complaints I hear from the men and women I work with in my practice as a therapist? “I’m stressed and I don’t have enough time to get everything done and feel productive and effective.”
But how much time do we spend looking at the vacation or baby photos of people we haven’t spoken to since high school? Or the time spent watching high speed videos on how to make gluten free, vegan, free range, paleo, organic meatloaf. Or whatever it is.
We don’t have time to have a real conversation with our best friend or spouse, but we do have time to read a strangers tweet about what they ate for lunch?
The solution? If you feel you may die from FOMO and MUST keep up-to-date on all everything happening on your 8 favourite social media platforms, set aside some time each day for it. Some ‘SM time’ if you will. And spend the rest of the day connecting with the real world and the 3 dimensional people. Some of them are actually kind of cool!
So as we close, a few things to be mindful of. Don’t stress or feel badly if you do any of these – we all do. And none of us were given a manual with our instagram account, or a how-to-keep-yourself-from-getting-sucked-into-the-Facebook-abyss instruction book. But here we are, and there’s no going back, so we enjoy it, embrace it, but also remember to be responsible with it.
I’m Julia Kristina MA, RCC, an I’m a CBT, Mindfulness, and Positive Psychology registered (aka licensed) therapist and life coach out of Vancouver BC.
I also blog and give Mental Wellness and Personal Development Talks on YouTube and Facebook LIVE