Social media is a great thing. It can also be a dangerous thing — to your happiness and peace of mind.
Sure, posting your life stories and thoughts and updates on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or any other social media of choice can make you feel good. It can give you a sense of community or belonging. It can help you make friends and influence people. It can also help grow your business and network.
It can also make you miserable.
According to recent survey statistics, we’ve never felt more alone than we do right now in the 21st century. Despite all the clicking and refreshing, the uploads and likes, the memes and laughs and fuzzy kittens, we’ve become empty. Many people are addicted to social media or, at the very least, are using it to provide a sense of self worth. People not only look for the immediate gratification of getting the approving “likes” of what they’ve posted, they crave it. Or, conversely, people become addicted to seeing the new posts their peers have posted so they can join in the “like” brigade.
It can make for a less-than-fulfilling and hollow experience.
Which brings me to the point of today’s blog.
The more I’ve read about this subject, the more I’ve discovered just how tethered we’ve become to social media. It’s become something we don’t want to live without and yet, somewhere deep down, we know that over-reliance on it isn’t good for us. It’s stressing us out. How often has this scenario happened to you? You go on Instagram and see all these posts from people showing happy, smiling faces. Pictures of a party, or a vacation, or a night out or memorable event. And you sit there, smiling back at the image at first, sharing in the joy and laughter, until a little thought starts niggling at you. Then, without even realizing it, other emotions are triggered. Maybe you start feeling resentment, or envy, or sadness. Maybe your happiness suddenly slides into emptiness, and your smile disappears. And the next thing you know, your previously good mood is gone and all of a sudden you feel bad.
But, rest assured, all is not lost. If you’re one of those people who finds social media elicits feelings of sadness or FOMO (fear of missing out), I have a few tricks for you. Ways to turn the social media experience into something helpful. More mindful. So, the next time you explore your favorite social media sites, try this:
- Find a comfortable, alert, and ready posture. Shrug your shoulders, take a few breaths, and bring awareness to your physical and emotional state in that particular moment.
- Then, open your computer or click on your phone.
- Before you open up your favorite social media site, consider your intentions and expectations. As you focus on the icon, notice what experiences you have in your mind and body.
- Why are you about to check this site? What are you hoping to see or not see? How are you going to respond to different kinds of updates you encounter? By checking your social media, are you interested in connecting or in disconnecting and distracting?
- Close your eyes and focus on your emotional state for three breaths before you begin to engage.
- Opening your eyes now, look at the first status update or photo, and then sit back and close your eyes again.
- Notice your response—your emotion. Is it excitement? Boredom? Jealousy? Regret? Fear? How do you experience this emotion in the mind and body? What’s the urge—to read on, to click a response, to share yourself, or something else?
- Wait a breath or two for the sensations and emotions to fade, or focus on your breath, body, or surrounding sounds.
- Try this practice with one social media update, or for three or five minutes, depending on your time and your practice.
“Noticing how social media makes you feel can help you discover how to use it more mindfully. As you become more aware of the emotions you’re actually inviting into your day when you visit social media sites, you’ll be able to make better decisions about how often to visit those sites.
And, keep in mind, the science of social media is more complex than we might think. For example, research shows that the more we look at others’ carefully curated social media status, the worse we tend to feel. But, the opposite is also true: if we look back at our own updates, we often see the positive aspects of our life presented and tend to feel better. So consider scrolling through your own updates sometimes, as you look at everyone else’s.
Technology does not define us, despite social media trying to put us into categories and reduce us to a series of likes and interests. Examining and changing our own relationship to technology opens the door for us teach through example and to practice new ways of making technology foster community and wellness.”
This content was wonderfully curated by the folks at mindful.org. Though initially written for the adolescent, it applies to everyone.
♥ Namaste ♥
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