As a Millenial (apparently, just!) I definitely recognise that I have had an analogue childhood and a digital adulthood. And my goodness, hasn’t the digital become a huge part of all our lives! I can track how my love/hate relationship has evolved quite easily.
I remember when Facebook first became a ‘thing’. I was in my early twenties, and the idea that I could connect with old friends, share what I was doing with my life, get information so easily, just blew my mind. Over the past 15+ years, other platforms have evolved and the digital world has expanded exponentially.
But of course, you know all of this, so why I am I describing it here? Understanding my journey and how I got to where I am now is an important part of my self-reflective practice. It helps me to understand how I have got to a place with social media that I describe as a love/hate relationship.
What do I love about it? The ability to make connections, the glimpses of joy I experience when viewing a little of other peoples’ lives (thank you Instagram), and a feeling of being part of something global.
Now, what do I hate about it? This is a much more ephemeral thing. It is more a feeling than a fact. I hate that my time disappears down a black hole, never to be seen again. I hate that I am targeted by advertising. I hate that it has the power to alter my mood. This last point is probably the one I feel most deeply.
There is something about the power that social media has to change how I feel that is a little bit frightening (to me). An outside influence, making me feel things, it just doesn’t sit well. Realistically though, this is exactly what it is designed to do. Advertisers attempt to change how we feel towards their products, or how we feel about not having their product, which leads to an urge to purchase.
As a result of this vague feeling, I try to limit my social media usage as much as possible. This is incredibly challenging for anyone running a business, as digital platforms are so important. You have probably come to this blog post via a social media platform such as Facebook or Instagram, after all.
Ultimately, it comes down to enforcing my boundaries. My reflection on this issue has allowed me to see where the weaknesses in my boundaries might be, and to address them. For example, I’m aware that when I use Twitter, I tend to ‘doom scroll’ more than with any other platform. Therefore, I don’t have the app on my phone, so that I can’t mindlessly open it and begin to scroll. If I have lots to achieve in the day, I give myself permission to only open one of the apps (usually Instagram, my favourite) once I have ticked off all my tasks. Managing this love/hate relationship takes work!
When I speak to clients about their social media usage, it is not very often that the response is a positive one. There is an awareness that they spend too much time on there, or they are comparing themselves unfavourably, but it has become a habit that they are struggling to change. Understanding this aspect of my client’s lives is part of the self-care work we do. Drawing attention to it, discussing it honestly. There shouldn’t be any shame in being a social media user, but that is often what I hear. We discuss boundaries, and how the client would like to use social media, and I can support them with making that change.
Have you thought much lately about your social media usage? How do you feel when you use it? How do you feel afterwards? Doing a check-in regularly can help to identify any patterns of behaviour that are potentially harming you. Ultimately, we have to be savvy as to the social media platforms aims. They are designed to make advertising revenue. If anyone has an interest in finding out more, I can highly recommend “The Social Dilemma” (2020), a Netflix documentary on this very topic.
I will sign off today by saying take care of yourself, bring your awareness to your own experience, do that regular check-in. If you would like some support with this issue, please head to my contact page.