Monday, June 15, 2015

A Bane & A Boon: Our Relationship with Social Media


by Gabi Pinto-Coelo

Mark Twain once said, “Comparison is the death of joy.” But, let’s be honest, we all compare ourselves to other people from time to time. We evaluate everything from our body types to our material possessions on a regular basis. While each of us have different triggers, we all know what it feels like to hear, read, or see something that immediately makes you question yourself.

Comparison was a part of our routine even before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram became a part of our lingo and our lives. Of course, we cannot deny that these platforms have allowed us to reconnect and keep in touch with friends and family regardless of distance or time apart. But with the explosion of social media, it seems like our comparisons have intensified. Social media gives us many more platforms for comparisons and self-disdain. Our emotional responses to posts on social media, though illogical, can be enough to set us on a path of negativity and self-deprecation.

What happens is that people usually only post the “good” stuff on social media. It is human nature to want to showcase the best parts of you on a public platform. The ugly, depressing, and challenging parts of life are often diminished or left out entirely when it comes to social media posts. So, when we compare ourselves to what is shown on an Instagram account, we are looking at highly distorted version of that person’s real life. We are comparing our “insides” to their “outsides” So, how can we still stay connected with friends and loved ones but keep our sanity? These tips from might help…

1. Reduce the time you spend on social media. Given the fact that these social media apps are at our fingertips, we have a tendency to check them many times throughout the day. Instead, set aside five to ten minutes per day to browse through your social media accounts, and then be done with it. Avoid looking at profiles or content that you know triggers comparison.

2. Shift your focus to the things that really matter. Reflect on some things that you have been neglecting for a while: that book you’ve been meaning to read, the exercise regime you’ve been wanting to start, that wonderfully organized home you’ve been envisioning. Start devoting your time and energy toward those activities that keep you engaged and inspired. In that down time when you would normally browse social media, consider starting a calendar and scheduling those activities that you’ve been putting off.


3. Reflect on where those negative comparisons are coming from. When we step back and reflect on why we are reacting in a certain way, we can begin to see some areas of our lives that would benefit from some TLC. Start to identify practical ways in which you can start to boost your confidence and self-worth. Should you put a higher value on relationships? Value your time more? Revamp your diet and exercise? The approaches for each person will be different, so do what works for you and balance it with what you think you “should” do.

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