Social media is such a difficult subject to touch on. But I think it’s a really important one. I have really mixed feelings when it comes to social media, in particular Facebook.
Without it, I wouldn’t have what I call an external memory drive for my photos, should my laptop or phone ever break at the same time. I wouldn’t have a way of communicating with some people. I wouldn’t be able to see how school friends, uni friends, family and all the other people that have passed through my life are getting on. I wouldn’t get entertainment or news or articles so fast.
But then I also wouldn’t compare quite so much.
I wouldn’t worry about my social status through the perception of how many likes, comments or friends I had on there.
I wouldn’t be scrolling in a quite happy and content mood to see something that evokes jealousy, sadness or hurt which then instantly throws my mood upside down and makes me sulk into myself, barely muttering a word to my husband for the rest of the evening when he has done nothing wrong.
Some of the happiest people I know are those that barely use their social media or don’t have it at all.
Yes, it’s great for a cute video on cats or celebrity memes to circulate but is it great for your mental health?
This is such a complex issue. I have a love hate relationship with it. I enjoy social media, but I don’t enjoy the effect it can have on so many people’s mental health.
I watched the most insightful video last year about Facebook and the endorphin dopermine it realises in the body when you get a like. It is proven to be addictive. Which is scary. Maybe a more realistic view of social media is what I need.
One golden rule to happiness is to not compare your life to someone else’s. But how hard is this when social media is right there at our finger tips? When someone has anxiety, and you feel low about something, naturally your brain will then pick up on other things to support your upsetting mood and anxious mind. So a trip on social media is the worst thing. Soon enough, I find myself comparing everything. From how successful others appear to be, how happy they seem, how social, how much they go out, what holidays they go on, where they live, what job they do. And my humble little life seems so small, so insignificant. It doesn’t seem good enough.
But when I am in a good mood, I am so proud of everything I have. And pull me away from all of those comparisons, how do I feel then? I love my life. My family. My friends. I really truly do. But Facebook is everyones highlight reels. How many times do you see uplifting posts compared to negative ones? I’ve had friends knowingly be upset and they have spoken to me about why they’re upset but they put a post on Facebook saying the complete opposite thing- according to their posts, they appear to be happy, in love, successful, motivated and like nothing is bothering them. When I know it is.
Despite this knowledge, despite being guilty of doing this myself and seeing friends do it, I often forget that it is a highlight reel. Not many people put their dirty laundry on Facebook.
I’ve even sat there and pondered, why does x have more friends on there? Or even in real life? Why does y get more followers on their page? Why does z have more comments and likes? They have thousands, why don’t I?
At the end of the day, none of that should really matter. A friend sent me this interesting quote;
I think this counts for all social media. And I can totally relate, I know people with hundreds of followers, or ones that get hundreds of likes, yet live a very humble and quiet life. Then I know some very social people that either don’t really use their social media, or when they do, they don’t get much “attention” on it, shall we say?
A huge thing with comparing your life, be it your on or offline life or how many likes and friends on there you have, is that everyone is unique. That is what makes life so interesting. We have all had different upbringings. And particularly with the age we are at now, we have all been through such different walks of life already; whether some went to university, some travelled, some had babies early, some had a career. So how can we possibly compare? Some have friends that enjoy engaging in social media everyday. I know the tight circle around me doesn’t. Which I think does help to keep me grounded actually. Not many of my friends or family engage on social media, whether on their own or commenting or liking mine. It doesn’t mean they don’t ‘like’ me, it means that our connection goes deeper than that. In a world that is being taken over by technology and social media, I am trying my best to focus on REAL connections rather than false likes.
The worst part of social media is when you try to be genuine on it, you try to comment and like friends from the past’s posts. And it is a kick in the teeth when it feels like it is never reciprocated. Sometimes I wonder why I bother? Why do I like x’s post when they never like mine? Why do I follow what they put? Why do I try to message and engage in a REAL conversation when it is never returned?
I don’t really have an answer for any of that. I don’t know why. But it boils down, once again, to everyone being different. We don’t all have the same heart, time or priorities. We don’t all use social media in the same way, so perhaps an old friend from school may see my posts, appreciate them but not like them as they don’t feel the need to. Why do I? This is where I need to step outside of the social media bubble and think…. do I really want to let this tear me down? Make my anxieties worse? Or do I just want to rise above it?
We know it is a highlight reel, we know that likes, comments and followers aren’t a real reflection of someones life and social circle. Although I don’t know why effort on social media doesn’t go both ways, I do know that I can only be myself. I will continue to like posts, to comment, because that is just who I am. I care. Everyone I have on my social media, I have had some sort of connection with in the past and to me, if they’ve been a part of this scary but wonderful journey of life, then I care. You can never regret being kind and friendly. Even when it isn’t returned. Especially when it isn’t returned. My anxieties have turned me into a far more thoughtful person and that is my silver lining.
The other thing about all of this social media madness, is that it makes me realise that this blog and the awareness I am trying to give to mental health and anxiety is more important than ever. I want to show the raw side to life. It isn’t always peachy. It isn’t always the highlight reel that you see online. No, I do not douse my social media in depressing posts. But what I will do is continue this blog and my Facebook page- because if anyone else feels this way, I want you to know that you are not alone. We can all feel sadness and hurt from social media. Whether its from the issues above, or whether its because seeing past friends moving on with their life can hurt. Social media is a constant reminder of what was, what could have been and what now is. Sometimes this quite frankly sucks.
Social media though, can do a lot of good too. Some of my close friends live hours away and social media allows me to keep up with their lives and lets me keep in touch via messenger. It allows me to see what family and friends are up to and to be able to tag them in comical memes or share events in the local area.
But now, it is time to put boundaries in place.
From now on, I am to never allow social media to tear down a happy mood again. Mindfulness has taught me that I can feel hurt when I see something, but that I should let this feeling happen and past, instead of absorbing myself in it. Instead of allowing a status or photo someone has put up to consume me. It’s time I let myself feel a pang of hurt but let it go and focus on REAL life.
I will never compare my REAL life with that of someone’s social media life. To not compare likes, friends, followers and comments- as we all know, our lives and friendship circles are different so that will naturally reflect. I promise to never use social media as a weapon in friendships.
What I will do is be more REAL on my social media. And focus more on REAL life, real friends, real family and real connections. To not consume my time and energy online but to indulge in the everyday normal simple pleasures in life. And I will continue to try and help anyone else suffering with anxiety.
Does any of this resonate with you? Does social media get you down? Follow me on Facebook (link on the page) to follow how I get on with a month of putting these new boundaries in place. Will they help? Will using social media get easier? Will time away from it help? Comment below, I would love to hear from you.