Social media is an important way to stay in touch with friends or connect with new ones, but there is a downside, too. Spending too much time focusing on social media can cause a lot of powerful negative emotions like sadness, jealousy, loneliness, stress, anxiety, embarrassment, etc.

So what are some of the pitfalls that you can experience related to social media?

  • Social Media OCD – The urge to constantly check social media for the latest updates can derail a person from the things they should be doing. Homework, chores, and relationships with others can suffer.
  • The Grass is Always Greener – People typically post about happy events and photos that put them in a positive light. As a result, it is easy to have the impression that others are more successful, more attractive, have more friends, and lead a much happier life.
  • Feeling Neglected – Counting the number of likes or shares can quickly become a measure of one’s self-worth, acceptance, and popularity. Some posts don’t receive as much recognition as others. Someone else will always have more friends or followers. Social media shouldn’t be a competition, but it often is.
  • Simple Misinterpretation – A photo of friends that leaves one friend out, or not included anymore in a profile picture, doesn’t mean that the friendship is over. It is easy have hurt feelings and make the wrong assumption about something that could actually be very harmless.
  • Stranger-Danger – People can be whoever they want to be on-line. Unfortunately, people don’t always understand the dangers that are out there, nor do they recognize that they can be targeted just as easily as anyone else.
  • Real World Avoidance - Online communication has quickly replaced talking and face to face relationships. Communicating via computer or text is often a more comfortable way to connect with others. Unfortunately this can cause people to isolate and for some to exist in almost a fantasy-type world.
  • Bullying – Being bullied in real life is bad enough, but it can be much worse when done on social media. Name-calling, lies, rumors, and critical comments are much easier when done online. Those words take a life of their own on social media once others are drawn in. Unfortunately, the hurtful posts and comments don’t just go away.
  • Romantic Drama - Break-ups are emotional events anyway; social media now makes this painful situation public for others to see. Viewing photos or reading comments about a former boy/girlfriend can be heartbreaking. Not only did the relationship end, now both people can see each other moving on or dating someone new.
  • Oversharing – What’s funny in the moment may not seem as amusing the next day or more importantly several years from now. One doesn’t have to look far to find someone who has lost a job or damaged relationships due to sharing too much online.

So What Do You Do About All This?

Two simple rules:

  • Give it a Rest – If you find yourself checking your accounts every couple of minutes, or you tune out of conversations with others frequently to look at your phone, it may be time to take a break. The more you check social media, the more opportunity you have to get entangled in some kind of drama. Unplug, connect with real live people, exercise, appreciate nature, get caught up in a hobby, etc. Set aside certain times of the day or week to be free from all social media consumption.
  • Be Realistic & Strong – No one’s life is perfect. Not everyone is going to like you all the time. It is natural sometimes to be upset about something you’ve seen online. Learn how to be resilient and bounce back from disappointments and bumps in the road. Make choices that you won’t regret later. Be confident in who you are and recognize what makes you unique and special. Don’t be so consumed by events online that you forget to live your life in the real world!