Social media puts a person in the position of becoming a commodity that must be promoted and continually hyped in order to receive likes and followers. Thousands of people clicking “likes” and “follows” on people’s social media pages create a false sense of importance and popularity that can result in a dangerous emotional dependence.
Without the placement of stringent boundaries regarding the use of social media accounts, there is the potential for severe emotional self-abuse. Are you in danger of succumbing to the flatteries and deceptions of your social media accounts?
Concern Over Other People’s Opinions
If you are overly concerned about the opinions of people who view and follow your social media accounts, you are developing “Fear of Other People’s Opinions” (FOPO). Serious anxiety issues can develop if you allow your social media friends and followers to affect your opinion of yourself. It’s easy to transition from your real life to your fantasy social media persona when you log into your accounts.
Damage to your emotional stability occurs when you allow another person’s opinion to cloud your image of yourself, and you attempt to emulate the personality you believe your followers will love.
Your desire for attention and approval places you in the precarious position of crafting a make-believe life and personality that is inconsistent with your true identity. As the line blurs between your real-life and social media persona, your emotional health and self-esteem pay the price.
Your quality of life depreciates as you spend less time living your real life in order to devote time to building your inauthentic social media personality. People you will never know and who contribute nothing of substance to your life click your like and follow buttons.
In return, you offer them an opportunity to dismantle your life, because along with those who click “like” are those who will viciously attack you. Depression is common when a person has a busy social media “life” because it never results in achievement, fulfillment, or improved self-esteem in the way interacting with real-life friends and family can.
Fear of Missing Out
Do you check your social media every morning when you get up? Do you sit and read comments with a cup of coffee? Do you check every morning to see if you’ve been accepted into a group or if your last post has been liked and commented on? Do you sometimes feel like you are on the outside looking in?
If your answer is yes, you may be suffering from the “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO). Do you search your social media looking for events and activities your friends may be enjoying so that you don’t miss out on anything?
Your mental health can seriously suffer if you experience FOMO and nomophobia (fear of detachment from your mobile phone) at the same time.
Before Social Media
The first social media site, Six Degrees, made its appearance in 1997 and remained quite popular until 2003 when MySpace, with its many special amenities, took the Internet by storm.
Prior to MySpace, the Internet was still unfamiliar territory to most people. Schools were not providing students with computers, and many people were struggling with the concept of transferring their records to electronic data files.
Social gatherings were person-to-person, and outdoor group activities were favorites for many. Teens went to the beach, played sports, attended school dances, and participated in numerous other activities depending on the season.
Cell phones were not possessed by every teenager, which meant they had to communicate by voice over the telephone or in person. Time was a commodity most people happily shared with family and friends.
Nokia introduced the first phone with texting capabilities in 1993. This phone had only a numerical keypad. In1997 Nokia debuted a phone with a built-in keyboard. By the turn of the Twentieth century, texting was on its way to becoming the most popular means of communication.
The texting phenomenon has disrupted normal one-on-one communication between family members and friends.
Protecting Yourself From Social Media Abuse
Times have changed, and so have our lives. Social media is the largest intrusion into the already hectic lives of most families. Setting boundaries is the best way to protect your family time and your mental health.
The following boundary tips can help you keep, or take back, control of social media’s power over your life.
1. Purge followers you don’t know in real life. The comments and opinions of people who don’t know or care about you are not important.
2. Do not follow people you don’t know. On social media, your time is divided between real friends and social media personalities. Do you really need to know how self-proclaimed “Number One Mom” made pancakes and bacon, got two children fed and on the school bus, fed, bathed, and dressed the baby, and did a load of laundry in less than an hour while looking like a high-fashion model? Ask yourself how that information improves your day.
3. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media. Determine the amount of time that is emotionally safe for you to be connected to your social media accounts, and don’t go over it.
4. If there is a person or group that frequently upsets you, purge them immediately. Physical and mental health are closely connected, and you shouldn’t let anyone plant the seeds of self-doubt or anxiety in your mind.
5. Reject negativity that affects how you feel emotionally. Avoid posts that encourage arguing and criticism. Playing “tit for tat” never ends well and only serves to generate more negative and pessimistic feelings.
6. When spending time with family or friends, put your phone on silent and place it with the screen out of sight. Give your time to those who are really important to you.
7. Turn off those notifications that tempt you to look at your phone to check other people’s posts. Rarely are they important, but they do waste a lot of time when you start responding.
8. Stop telling all your problems to strangers on the Internet. Social media draws out your weaknesses and capitalizes on them. Manipulative and unscrupulous people prey on the emotional fragility of others. Don’t become one of their victims.
9. If you have an iPhone, set the timer daily for 30 minutes for your apps, and when it blocks access do not hit ignore. This is a great help in cutting back on social media.
10. Dedicate 90 minutes to your well-being each day with your phone turned off. This could include taking a walk, reading a book, soaking in a warm bath surrounded by aromatherapy candles, or playing with your child. Spend this special time doing things that make you happy.
Technology is supposed to benefit our lives, but when we allow it to control us we risk our emotional stability. Make an honest list of the negative issues in your life that are related to time spent on social media.
Is it affecting your children, your marriage, or your job? Determine to follow these ten suggestions to take back control of your time and emotions, and don’t let social media rule and ruin your life.
Lori Ballen is a real estate agent in Las Vegas. She’s a digital marketing specialist, speaker, and marketing coach and loves to share her “Ballen Method” to generate website traffic and leads online. Lori’s specialties are SEO content writing (ranking on the search engines), social media strategies, and affiliate marketing. Need a website? Contact Lori’s brothers Jeff and Paul Helvin at Ballen Brands.