Our blog on the Social Dilemma speaks about how social media is a tool which reflects the user’s choices and projections. There is no denying that this all-pervasive medium has an impact on our well being and taking control of it can therefore help us avoid the loneliness, rejection and compassion fatigue it might bring into our lives.
Realise that sounds, words and visuals can have a massive impact on our perception. In order to create stories that sell, news sources play on their audiences’ emotions. If the news makes you anxious but you still want to be informed, make a conscious effort to follow sources that don’t play out like intense, heightened dramas.
The Purge In addition to limiting the amount of time we spend on social media, we need to start controlling what it is that we are exposed to in that limited time. The algorithm moulds itself to the content we like, share and watch so clearing our feeds, following-sections and friend-lists of pages/people that don’t don’t serve our mindful attention anymore is a way to streamline what we’re seeing. Go ahead, Marie Kondo that sh*t.
The Moderation So now we know what we can avoid and be weary of but how do we take advantage of the benefits that social media provides us with? Use it to connect with people! Use it to be more involved with things that inspire you! Use it to grow! But do this with mindfulness. Instead of passively scrolling for hours, curate it to become a healthy space for you.
The Decision I’m writing all this on a blog, you may have reached here through some kind of algorithm too! So this is me giving YOU the choice to interact with your social feeds the way it helps YOU!
Here are two excerpts from blogs that encapture my view of the two sides to social media:
Quora user Mira Weisenthal describes the feeling of loneliness one gets through heavy internet use as akin to moving to a big city like New York. They both involve “constant access to thousands of people (a kind of stimulus overload), which makes each interaction no more meaningful than the last; and … a lack of cultural “footing” — learned social norms and expectations, which typically characterizes a community.” She suggests that the natural state of humanity is to live in small, compassionate communities, whereas city life and internet life create large, insensitive seas of faceless humanity.
“In the podcast, “You’re Not So Smart: The Friendship Cure”, journalist Kate Leaver is interviewed regarding what she believes to be a growing issue, loneliness. She had recently written the book, “The Friendship Cure: A Manifesto for Reconnecting in the Modern World”. When discussing how to combat loneliness, she reports her “single most effective way of making new friends” (18:29) when she moved to a new city was checking people out on Twitter and then direct messaging them and asking them to meet for coffee. She then suggests using technology intelligently. Despite the host saying there are “many things about social media that are soul poison” (18:53), and Ms. Leaver agreeing there are “noxious” (19:21) aspects, she goes on to posit positives of social media, especially “if you’re an introvert, socially anxious, if you have any mental health issues, if you live with a disability, if you have Autism” (19:27-19:34).”
So disconnect if that feels right, take a break or consciously and actively curate your feed. Understand that Social Media can influence your emotions but it is in your control. If you feel like you’re addicted or get way too overwhelmed due to social media, seek professional help (which is now very much possible through social media and connections!).
Sanjana has recently graduated with a degree in Psychology and is interning at The Thought Company to gain more knowledge and experience on her path to becoming a mental health professional. She is interested in understanding what makes people resilient in the face of adversity. She has a knack for cooking, origami and re-reading Khaled Hosseini books. Her favourite way to de-stress is watching a Pixar movie curled up next to her dogs. If she could be any Pixar character, she’d be Remy from Ratatouille!