Social Networking can be a blessing and a curse. We are now more connected than ever before. With the swipe of a finger we can easily check-in on what our old friends from college are doing now, that new position our third-cousin-once-removed just got at work, and the endless “Forever has a nice ring to it 💍” engagement posts & pink-smoke gender reveals.
Although this connectedness can make us feel closer to those on our following list, it can also be very easy to fall into a trap of jealousy, comparing, and developing unhealthy social media habits.
For those struggling with (in)fertility, mental health, depression, loss, and self-worth, social media can be a triggering place. It's natural to feel a ping of jealousy when you see a happy couple celebrating their new pregnancy, growing family, or birth of a new addition, but it’s important to be cognizant of the emotions & stay in a healthy head-space.
Here are some common triggers frequently seen on Social:
Engagements & Marriages
Baby photos & Pregnancy announcements
New Home / Move In Day
Travel & Holiday photos
New purchases & designer clothes
Interior design & renovations
extravagant meals & fancy restaurants
Romantic gestures & dates
What these triggers all have in common is the feelings they provoke. Questioning our worth, our path, and why our life doesn't fit this picture-perfect mold.
Here are 6 ways to stay connected without becoming overwhelmed on Social Media:
1. Set Limits - Your Time Is Valuable
Social media usage can really sneak up on you! 10 minutes on Facebook before you get out of bed, a quick 5 minute scroll on Instagram while you have your morning coffee, 25 minutes in the doctors office waiting room, commercials on the couch during your evening show. Be aware of how much time you spend online everyday – your phone can even help you track your time & alert you if you set hard limits. It’s okay to check social media daily, but be aware of when the best time is for you.
If you are triggered by posts on your feed, you may want to stop checking your accounts first thing in the morning, or right before you settle into your nighttime routine.
2. Remember You’re only seeing the best parts, not the full picture.
When you see someone's social media feed, remember you are seeing the highlights of their life, not an accurate everyday picture. Behind that perfectly posed family photo, beautiful diamond ring, and 5-month sonogram lies a much bigger story, and you can be assured they are not all fairytales. Social media is a rose-coloured view of life, not the true, raw, unfiltered reality that each of us experience.
3. Don't be afraid to unfollow or mute
If you realize certain accounts (or people) post content that you find triggering, do not feel bad about unfollowing, blocking, or simply muting their posts from showing up in your feed. This could be a big celebrity account, or a friend from high school that you lost touch with. Remember to prioritize yourself, and tailor your social media to your personal taste and wellbeing.
4. Question your feelings
When you see that new-house photo, or gender reveal video - what is your gut reaction? Why are you feeling jealous, not supportive? Why are you comparing your success with a simple snap-shot you see online? Is their life really as perfect as it seems?
Question the emotions you feel, ask yourself the reason why seeing specific posts makes you feel a certain way. It’s normal to feel envious, but remember to keep these emotions in check, and dig deeper into yourself when you feel negativity bubbling up.
5. Schedule in-person social time & and get off your phone!
The virtual world is great, but think of it as an extension of the real world - not an alternative to face-to-face contact. Use social media to schedule those in-person visits, that family dinner, a conversation starter about that new restaurant in town.
Get off the computer or phone, and create meaningful conversation & interactions in the real world.
6. Social Media Breaks
It’s okay to take breaks, get offline, and fully unplug. Life moves forward without posting about it, or seeing what others are doing online. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with social media, take the summer off, a week off, or even just a couple of days. You might be surprised how disconnecting online can reconnect you in other ways.
We are more connected than ever before, but it’s important to balance our time, energy, and expectations with the digital world and our challenging everyday lives. Remember that you are not alone, and that not everything is what it seems online. Check-in on your loved ones, friends, and yourself and make sure you are fostering a healthy relationship with social media and your mental health.