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  • Lauren Butler

The Social Media Dilemma

Sparked by several recommendations from friends and a few catchy promo videos on Netflix, I decided to check out “The Social Dilemma” documentary. Eye-opening does not even begin to describe my experience, and it launched my desire to investigate how social media impacts my own life and the lives of the clients I serve.

  • To date, there are 3.5 billion social media users (roughly 45% percent of the population).

  • 90.4% of the Millennials, 77.% of Gen Xers, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers use social media.

  • An average of 3 hours per day is spent on social networks and messaging.

  • From January 2017 to January 2019, there was an increase of Instagram Story users from 150 million to 500 million worldwide.

As if this wasn’t enough for me, I decided to check out my own usage. As someone who frequently says “I never have enough time to get tasks done” or “I wish I had more time in the day”, I was alarmed to see I had spent 2 hours and 56 minutes that day on social networking and 1 hour and 16 minutes on messaging. Most of the time (specifically on social networks) was mindless scrolling without a meaningful purpose. I began to notice ads tailored to my interests and hashtags and “click bait” that frequently caught my attention because of similarities to my own life.

So, where does mental health come into play with this information?

What comes to mind is intentionality and the importance of where and how we invest our time. Social media, which does have several benefits, can also do some major harm. An unknown author shares “What we feed our mind shapes our perceptions, and our perceptions shape our reality”.

Are you buying into the social media generated version of reality?

Are you forming opinions and believing sources shared on social media to always be factual?

Do you feel anxious, restless, or out-of-touch when you haven’t been able to check your Facebook or Instagram?

These questions were all very convicting for me and allowed me to check myself. This world can be an overwhelming place, and the more filth we allow to feed our minds, the more distortions and unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves.

The “factual” news articles? Probably not very accurate. The picture-perfect parenting, consistently clean homes, fairytale marriages, postpartum bodies returning to normal in a matter of days, friendships with “no flaws”, families who never argue, and so much more? Not the full story, and while we know deep down there is a level of inaccuracy, it can also be very triggering. This leads us down a rabbit hole of comparison that does so much harm to our mental health.

So, how do we change this? We use social media with intentionality and caution. We decide how much time we want to spend engaging in social media, and stick to it.

Use the “Screen Time” app to set boundaries for your usage.

Delete your social media apps from time to time, and do some self-care or spend quality time with those important to you.

Challenge yourself to follow and friend people who are authentic and genuine.

Unfriend and unfollow people who are not.

Intentionally leave your phone in the other room so that you can be fully engaged in whatever you are doing.

Help your children guard their minds by educating them on the harmful effects of social media and making sure what they have access to is monitored and age appropriate

Encourage yourself to go outside into the real world and reflect on all the good that is still present (See some examples from Dr. Ferguson below)

  • The sun is still shining, the birds are still chirping, flowers are still growing

  • Almost any vegetable we want is available at the store, Amazon delivers almost anything you could want to your door in rapid speed, tons of cars drive down the road together everyday with few traffic accidents

In a time full of chaos and unknown, there is so much content on social media that can be triggering. Take control by using any of the suggestions above; by doing so, you become an active participant in bettering your own mental health!

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