Social media sites were designed to bring together individuals who have perhaps physically moved apart or lost contact over the years; being able to continue relationships at a distance and connect individuals who may have drifted apart. Unfortunately for many the “cyber connectivity” has become a point of contention and actually causes more distress than the happiness.
Facebook has over one billion users, I can find almost everyone I have ever come in contact with from my old kindergarten teacher to my co-worker’s children, to my spouse’s ex. We all are either guilty of or know someone who is guilty of “cyber-stalking” someone, in order to get information about their lives. Instead of continuing relationships or staying connected to love ones, Facebook and other social media sites have created a craving of information about others that in turn can promote anxiety and depression in those of us who feel as though our lives are lacking. Of course I realize that Facebook cannot actually cause a mental illness, true depression and anxiety are serious and should not be taken lightly. However, it is our natural inclination to begin evaluating our own lives when we are consuming pictures and post about what we perceive to be “joy”, “success”, and “good times”. We start to ask ourselves, “Am I living a life of joy, success, and good times?” If at that moment we are in fact experiencing any feeling less than amazing in our own lives, we are now feeling the envy and sadness that I am speaking of. We start believing “everyone else has the cutest kids, best vacations, amazing spouses, and fulfilling lives and I am having such a regular experience”, overtime this feeling turns into an actual belief and can cause real cognitive and behavioral effects. How can we help ourselves?
- Stay off social media. If you know that you have a tendency to display the envy and sad feelings similar to what I have explained, than social media may not be the best thing for you, limit your exposure.
- Understand that your friends and their friends are masters of marketing their own lives. They are only going to show the most amazing aspects of their experience. I mean really, who is interested in seeing someone changing a flat tire on the side of the road or getting a call from their child’s principal about their poor behavior?
- Take into consideration the blessings in your own life. Even if you are going through a rough time, I am almost certain that you can find something to be grateful for. Your health, family and children are just a few. Can you think of a few more? How about a few more? Keep going……
- If you absolutely have to be on social media spend more time looking at your own profile than you do spend on that of others in order to help refocus yourself on all the good in your life.