Mental Health - Your social (media) circle and your mental health
Ironically, this week’s blog is about social media and the part it can play in keeping our mental health in a good or a bad place.
As soon as we click that button we are availing ourselves of hours of people’s opinions/cats/dinners, dirty laundry, negative feedback, pictures of tortured and dead animals, political propaganda, moaning, groaning, ranting and sometimes even big fat lies! Very little of it seems to actually be a positive experience. Added to that I feel that some people are unaware of how damaging a comment that lacks the intonation required, or a forgotten ‘like’ or the fact no one ‘shared’ is, if a friend has received a like or a comment and you haven’t for example, totally unintentional but nonetheless we can take it personally.
For me, I only use it to promote my business and communicate with clients old and new, and personally, I use it in a very light-hearted way, to share funny stuff, sometimes to positively affirm some of my friends’ posts, to give a pat on the back or to congratulate. I never use it to air my dirty laundry, share negative rants, to pretend I’m doing, saying, being something I’m not, to spy on people or create any false idea of what is really going on, for most of us I think that is true, and I’m sure that is what Mark Zuckerberg had intended, but unfortunately, for some of our ‘friends’, the opposite is true.
We are pre-programmed to inherently believe until proven otherwise, that we humans are telling the truth, we take everything at face value, and so we should. This is why some of us find social media difficult because some of what we read isn’t genuine and honest and we are soaking it all up as if it were.
People just behave differently when they are not physically in front of other humans, they talk online in a way they would never have the courage to do in the physical, if it’s positve then that’s great that someone has found the courage to be the person they wish they could be around other humans. If it’s not positive we need to remove it.
I am finding that in nearly every case of talking to my clients in therapy with stress, anxiety, even depression, that social media crops up time and time again, always in the negative. Nowadays it plays a large part in our lives, whether we like it or not, and people’s anxiety and the feelings it induces, causing them to walk away from social media completely as it has such a negative effect on them.
But we can make it work for us, it can be a positive, encouraging place where people genuinely care and look out for each other, we just have to be clever about who we let into our social media circle.
The trick is to manage our ‘friends’ on social media, make it a positive experience for yourself, you don’t have to put up with people’s weird idiosyncrasies, get rid of the proper rotten apples completely and unfriend them, people you never interact with, the negative ones, the dramatic ones, the moaners, you can just unfollow them, they are drip feeding their negativity into your front room and your head and they’ll never know you have! Then take the rest with a much larger pinch of salt.
So how do we spot them?! They fall into the following categories; There’s the ‘Victim Friend’ I’m ill, I’m sad, I’m so unlucky, no one loves me, the cooker is broken and I’ve lost my purse, we want to help them, but we’ve already done everything we can and that hasn’t helped, so it’s time to stop. There’s the ‘Only one focus Friend’, who incessantly posts about their pet, baby or dinner, not negative necessarily, just not very healthy, for them or us. There’s the political propaganda sharer, nothing to actually say just shares ridiculous memes and quotes, they’re the first to bite the dust on my list! There’s the drama queen, the ranter, the quote poster and the ‘hey look at me’ attention seeker friend who only posts photos of things that they know will get a reaction, fluffy animals, dead animals, outrageous images of anything they can find. If you’re unlucky enough to have a ‘Pretender’, one who pretends to have much more fun, exciting life that they really have, that is quite sad to see, I have one or two ‘friends’ who fit all these categories at once! Weed them all out for your own sanity, why put yourself up for their ridiculous rubbish? You wouldn’t if they were physically there with you, you’d step away.
Now you’re left with the people that actually care about each other, these are who you want in your life, keep these but just don’t take it all too seriously, don’t take it personally and don’t believe everything you read.
Be kind to yourself, Denise x
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