There’s quite a number of stories in the press about the potentially negative effects of social media on us, about, for example, the depressive impact of sites like Facebook. This may be because social media is so relatively new and we’ve yet to get over our fear of the unknown.
However, the problem remains and so it may be more productive to identify where it tends to lie in social media: not so much with a web site, but rather with us as people and communities. The simple answer may be better policing of social media sites, but there’s also things we can do to make the most of social media and keep psychological issues in check.
Here’s a few tips to see you on your way:
- Recognise when you aren’t feeling too good and directly address personal issues, rather than diverting your attention to where these issues are manifesting themselves.
- There’s many different people on Facebook. If you’re having problems with some, and if these issues are unresolvable, move on to some people who are more suited to you.
- You may be misinterpreting things. Our moods and the psychological baggage we bring to sites like Facebook can trigger us off into thinking it’s the site’s problem, which does nothing to resolve matters, so find a way to reflect on your approach to the problem.
- Don’t get wrapped up in feeling down because other people appear to be having such a good time. Not everyone is all the time and if you’re only coming across feel-good updates, you perhaps haven’t got a diverse enough circle of contacts.
- Some status updates are transparently over-compensatory, where people attempt to divert themselves from the issues in their lives by overstating the good in them or even making it up. Acknowledging and spotting this gives you a more realistic view of the social world of social media. As for you, a more balanced lifestyle can lead to a better experience in your social life both online and off, so that problems on social media can be seen with a better perspective.
- If you’re having problems and think Facebook is the problem, it almost certainly isn’t. If the problems appear to be clinical, seek the help of your doctor or a mental health professional.
- For specific issues, try to educate yourself about them. A good starting point is the ‘Overcoming’ books, which break things down so you understand how conditions like depression work and they then give advice on how to resolve them.
- Don’t get wrapped up in the politics of being liked by your contacts. Self-esteem is stronger when it isn’t dependent on other people’s views, so feel good for you and don’t rely on the opinions of others for that.
- Acknowledge that people who criticise you may also have issues themselves, but do use the reporting features of sites like Facebook if things get too much.
- If you still have negative experiences of Facebook, try relating this to your friends in messages or updates, depending on your level of bravery! You never know, you may get the support you thought wasn’t there.