Tag Archive for: social media

take a break fro social media

Social Media Part 7: Wrap up: What Can We Do?

During the pandemic, we have all realized the need for face to face connection and how a lack of can take a toll on our mental health. Connection has shown to be the color in our lives. We need it!

Our phones have turned into our companions. A constant in our lives we reach for when we are lonely, bored, seek entertainment, and even as a way to avoid engaging with others. As with any friend, we need to evaluate whether they are good for us. So when it comes to social media use, take inventory.

Take inventory of what you expose yourself to on social media and how you think it impacts you. Ask yourself; Do I spend more time living in someone else’s world instead of my own? Who am I caught up following and why? Is my time spent comparing myself to others? Is my need for belonging being satisfied or taking a hit? Is my curiosity running my use causing me to spend endless hours surfing? What is the voice inside my head saying after use? AND how does it leave me feeling?

For parents:

It is harder than ever to be a teen and young adult. The world is full of chaos and noise right now. It is difficult to maneuver through the noise and just be a teen.

The bar is set so high in all aspects of their life. Making it feel like they have to compete at such a high level. It’s not a 4.0 anymore, it’s a 4.4. It’s not just being a good student, it’s, are you well rounded? Do you have internships and volunteer positions? Are you doing it all? The pressure is insurmountable. The bar is somewhere in clouds never able to really know where it is and when you’ve reached it. We think social media is a way to unwind or have down time. But it’s just another place where they see they aren’t measuring up, not reaching the bar.

If you are a parent, talk with your young adult about pressures and tendencies to compare themselves to others. Let them know they don’t have to partake in the race to the unknown finish line.

Talk with them about increases of anxiety, depression, and loneliness that can come from social media use. And that when we are down, we tend to isolate and social media use tends to increase. This upturn in use during difficult times can cause one to feel worse. A downward spiral that can be hard to recover from.

Help them instead of punishing them.

Help them filter their feed, finding positive things to look at instead of things that make them feel bad.

Don’t minimize their need to connect with their friends but help them find ways they can connect in person. Talk with them about using it to build upon their relationships not be the only avenue for their relationships.

Weekly I will ask my clients to take a break from social media for a day or two. Just to see how they feel. Without fail they tell me they feel better, more free, less anxious, less down, and engaged in more pleasurable activities. They report feeling better about themselves. Talk with your young adult about taking a day away from social media.

Actually, we should all give it a try!

Please read the other blogs in this series:


Social Media Part 6: Bullying

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”

This is the biggest BS I’ve ever heard. For some reason, we should only hurt when someone has physically injured us, not when someone says something painful about us or to us.

Teasing, taunting, and bullying have been around forever. And unfortunately, it’s not surprising that bullying happens over social media. According to the I-Safe Foundation, “Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying.” And, “about half that are bullied, don’t tell their parents what’s going on.”

Why is cyberbullying rampant?

Social media is an environment where tearing someone else down is so much easier than in person. There are less inhibitions to say and do things that hurt other people because it’s not a face-to-face interaction. It’s a place where the vulnerable are more accessible.

Cyberbullying is possible with just a few clicks. Posting an embarrassing photo or saying hurtful things can be done with ease. We can fall prey to it and not give it a second thought when the person isn’t in front of us.

Why is bullying more harmful online? It can feel like there’s no escape when someone is bullying you online. Before when you were bullied, you could escape the person, walk away, or the school day ended. Now the bully can persist even after you walk away. It can go on 24/7.

Before social media when a bullying event happened, others may have seen it. But now, hurtful words, rumors, and embarrassing photos can be posted. They can remain for days before taken down or even permanently posted. The embarrassment and shame can linger.

What is the psychology behind someone bullying?

We know that bullies can be insecure individuals that are also hurting in some way themselves. They can have something going on in their own lives they’re having trouble dealing with. Problems at home, being bullied by someone else, low self-esteem, or a need to exert control or power because they feel powerless in some way. They prey on individuals that most likely won’t fight back and are less secure with themselves. This enables the bully to feel superior and feeds their need for control.

Bullies may not seem like sensitive individuals, but they are. We’re all sensitive. Accessing and expressing our feelings and sensitivity can be learned. A safe environment is necessary and is something a bully may not have.

I see individuals with tough exteriors. My curiosity helps me connect with my clients. The safe place I establish allows them to let their guard down. And then the floodgates open. It never fails… even those who bully. Anger is a defense mechanism. Bullying others is a way to push off something that is wrong inside of them and push it onto someone else.

Not all bullies intend to bully. Some just go along even though it wasn’t their idea or intention to bully someone else. They may feel they will be rejected by their current group of friends if they don’t partake in the kindless act. They fear if they speak up and don’t join in they may be excluded from the group. OR they may be next in line. Either way their belonging becomes at risk.

For those who intend to bully, belonging can be a catalyst. It can be a way to exert power in an effort to be known in a particular group and be popular.

Some are compelled to comment when no comment was asked. They feel others must know their opinion when it wasn’t solicited. If the comment or opinion is positive or supportive, then great. How nice to put something out there in cyber space and get back some kudos. But when the tone of the comment is negative, it can cause the same result as bullying behavior, the feeling of ‘I don’t belong.’

Whether it is bullying or a few unkind words said in cyberspace, it can be painful for the person on the receiving end. It can have a lasting negative impact. When interacting with others on social media, always ask yourself before posting: is this necessary, kind, or helpful?

If you’re a parent, talk to your kids about bullying even if you don’t suspect it’s happening. Give them examples of what bullying can look like and let them know you are there to listen and help. And if they are being bullied or dealing with unkindness over the internet, don’t minimize the impact it can have on their mental wellbeing.

Please read the other blogs in this series:


Social Media Part 5: Curiosity

Social media feeds into our human natural tendency to be curious. We need curiosity; it helps us learn new things and serves as a vehicle for growth. But curiosity with regard to social media can be like falling into a large black hole we can’t get out of. The ease and immediacy lures us in and it’s so hard to turn off.

We then rely on something else to squash our natural sense of curiosity to get out of the hole: willpower. Willpower to withstand the immediacy of our curiosity and the reward of our addiction. But the thing we’re addicted to is in our pocket or handbag all day, every day! Can you imagine trying to quit smoking while carrying a pack of cigarettes in your pocket?

Let’s look at breakups. You have to work so hard to move past a breakup nowadays. Breakups no longer mean you just stop talking to the person. Now, you have to delete them from every form of your social media. You have to make sure you can’t see them from someone else’s social media feed. You need a tremendous amount of willpower. And if your curiosity is in play, which it always is, you may NOT delete them from your social media which means you end up watching them not be sad about the breakup–or so it may seem. You see them out and about, laughing, having fun, and hanging out with a new potential girlfriend / boyfriend. I use the word potential because every person you see them with is someone they are interested in in your mind. It is a minefield for your thoughts.

Break ups used to be hard, but now can be tortuous. You used to still see your ex at school or a party or social gathering. You would see them talking to someone else, checking to see facial expressions and body language, gathering clues to decipher if they were interested in them. Now you can see them 24/7. Trying to crack the code of what is going on for them; do they miss me? Are they happy we broke up? Are they interested in someone else? Are they sad without me? It leaves our mind to roam endlessly.

Think about whether it’s in your best interest to delete your ex from your social media. Not to be spiteful, but to save yourself from mental anguish.

Break ups are just one example where our curiosity is at play, making it difficult to manage our social media use which can negatively impact our mental wellbeing. Ask yourself, where else is my curiosity showing up that isn’t so helpful? Is my curiosity taking over, causing me to spend hours on social media? Could that time be spent pursuing something else I‘m curious about that would fulfill me in a better way?

Please read the other blogs in this series:

compare dispair

Social Media Part 4: Compare Despair

When I was growing up my mother would buy magazines. I remember looking at the images and wishing I looked like the women in the photos. Of course I didn’t realize how much it affected me at the time. It wasn’t until later I truly understood how those images contributed to how I felt about myself. They dictated how I should look and even told me how to get there with all the latest diet craze. It took a toll on how I viewed myself. It really impacted my eating, exercising regime, and dictated the voice in my head that continued to push for something I was not. It wreaked havoc on my self esteem and exploded my insecurities. I promised myself that if I had a daughter I would never buy magazines. I never wanted my daughter to think she had to look like someone else. I didn’t want her to think she had to be something other than herself. AND then the internet happened. It’s one big magazine plus so much more.

Now it’s not just an image or two that we are comparing ourselves to. It’s an endless stream of images. A door that is always open for you to see someone that doesn’t look like you.

And it’s not just an image, it’s more. Social media allows us to peer into other people’s lives. We aren’t just comparing how we look. We now compare our whole lives to someone else’s–in fact, lots of other people! Or so we think it is their whole life. It can leave us with feeling like our life is deficient in some way, that we are deficient… not good enough. The lens we use when we scroll through social media is that of “what I am not”. I don’t look like that, I don’t have that, I am not doing that, I am not doing enough. Questioning every part of ourselves, leaving us feeling we are doing life wrong.

Social media creates an illusion that everyone is living a perfect life: successful, seems to have it all together, has no struggles, and is an expert at life. This leaves the surfer feeling that something must be wrong with them. Not only do they not look the right way, but now it’s, ‘I don’t seem to know how to live life the right way. I must have it all wrong.’ And if we’ve got it all wrong, if our life isn’t following some sort of trajectory that social media dictates, we can feel we aren’t enough in some way. It’s a trap.

It’s hard to see that it isn’t reality. We are seeing a snapshot of someone. How do we know someone’s life from a series of photos? We don’t but for some reason we still believe we know them and how they are living life. And of course it must be better than how we are doing life. Perfect, of course.

I want to call Wikipedia and ask them to change the definition of perfect. Here is what I propose: Perfect: for humans, an impossibility, an unachievable state. An illusion some feel others have achieved. Trying to achieve it or holding belief that it is possible will cause pain and likely create another issue or multiple issues. The remedy: transparency by all to distill the illusion and squash the feelings of vulnerability in disclosing non perfectiness.

If there are other areas in your life where you feel you are being compared to others, it can compound these ideals making it difficult to withstand the comparison trap.

Comparison robs us of our joy, taking us to a place where we feel less than. I know comparing is hard not to do. One thing to keep in mind that might be helpful: isn’t a person’s character what’s fundamentally important? And how do we know someone’s character from a series of photos? We don’t. So when you’re scrolling, remember you really don’t know their life. No one is posting the difficult moments they experience. No one is posting the mistakes they make.

A good mantra to remember is: I have enough, I do enough, I am enough. Remembering this while scrolling through social media is a good way to keep yourself grounded and less likely to compare yourself to others.

Please read the other blogs in this series:

need for belonging

Social Media Part 3: Need for Belonging

Along with connection, we have an innate need to belong. It’s a basic human need and is, infact, necessary for our well being. The Belong Theory, according to Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary, states “humans have a fundamental motivation to be accepted into relationships with others and to be a part of social groups. The fact that belongingness is a need means that human beings must establish and maintain a minimum quantity of enduring relationships.”

I’m sure you’ve heard the commercials from the beginning of the pandemic: “We’re all in this together.” No one wants to feel they are going through life alone. The feeling of belonging can be translated to: am I accepted? Do I matter? Am I not alone in this world?

How does this need relate to social media?

Social media is a place we go to feel like we belong and feel we are important to others. It’s where we share news, stories, funny memes, or Tik Toks. It’s where we cultivate friendships. It’s our community.

This all sounds good! So, what’s the problem?

Social media can help us feel like we belong but it also shows us when we don’t belong. And we can’t escape seeing it.

When we weren’t invited to a party before social media, it felt bad. We would sit home, knowing they were having fun without us. We’d know we weren’t included. Maybe we’d even hear about the event the next day. It was painful.

But now, we not only aren’t included, we see first hand that we aren’t included. We can watch the fun going on without us. It’s like a mirror showing us we don’t belong and the fun is happening without us.

Social media makes it obvious to others too, when we don’t belong–causing embarrassment and sometimes shame for us. I see I don’t belong but now everyone else sees it too.

Social media opens the door to show when we aren’t included and threatens our feelings of belonging which leaves us feeling rejected. It stirs the pot of our insecurities. UGH! It can be so painful!

We hear a lot about FOMO (fear of missing out). But, it’s not just FOMO. It’s fear of not belonging. When we aren’t accepted by our peers, it can feel like we don’t matter.

It’s really important to name what we feel. Understanding the thoughts and feelings that come up with social media can help. We can all tend to scroll mindlessly and not realize how what we see impacts how we feel. Ask yourself if your sense of belonging is taking a hit when engaging with social media. If the answer is yes, make a conscious effort to change your use. If you know you weren’t invited to an event then don’t watch it happening. I know this can be soooo hard. But would you rather satisfy your curiosity or save your mental wellbeing?

Please read the other blogs in this series:

need for connection

Social Media Part 2: Need for Connection

Humans have a biological need to connect with others. In fact, it’s a large part of our survival. Social media feeds this basic need to connect with others. And it let’s us do it with ease and immediacy. We can find someone to chat with in an instant. We can see what’s going on with our friends in seconds. When we get good news or bad news, someone is always there to share it with. In fact, there are great things about social media.

So, what’s the problem?

Our drive to connect with others drives our use. And when we reach out and don’t get a connection, it can leave our mind to jump to conclusions and cause painful feelings.

For instance, how about when we send something that goes ‘unread’ or ‘read’ but with no response. Oh, the pain and anguish over this! We’ve all been there. We send a text or a snap and there’s no response on the other end. It can leave us wondering. Are you going to connect with me or not? Why did you read my note and then not respond? Is it something I said? Are you mad at me? Am I not important to you? Is our friendship/relationship in trouble? What should I do?

You may think this is an overreaction for just being unread or not responded to, but this happens. Teens (and really, anyone!) can get into these head spaces. It’s a minefield of anxiety and pain for some. We tend to read into the meaning behind someone not paying attention to us. We reach out and they aren’t there. What does that mean about me and our relationship? It can be like quicksand… a sinking feeling. And one that can last for a while if they don’t respond. WHY AM I BEING REJECTED?

Then we are left with: should I or shouldn’t I take another stab at reaching out again? Would that be a good thing or will I seem too needy? Will they be annoyed with me? How long should I wait to try again? How long before I know I’ve been ghosted? So many questions are left swirling around in our heads.

What seemed like a simple outreach to another for connection, just got stressful. And life is already stressful! This can just add another layer on top sending us to a dark place. It leaves us feeling unsure about ourselves. It leaves us feeling anxiety and sadness about the possibilities of our friendships being in jeopardy.

I know it’s hard to avoid the ‘question game’ with yourself. BUT the questioning only elevates your anxious feelings. Think about how much weight you are giving a text or Snapchat response. Ask yourself: Am I really just afraid that my friendship is in jeopardy? Is my worry warranted? Is my relationship really in danger of ending just because they haven’t responded yet?

Please read the other blogs in this series:

social media and teens

Social Media Part 1: Social Media and Our Mental Wellbeing


Social media is such a hot topic, one that’s part of my daily conversations in sessions with teens and young adults. I see firsthand the impact social media has on their lives and their mental well being. It can become their best friend and their worst enemy–all at the same time.  The friend that is always there for them but isn’t always kind. The friend that gives us all the good feels, yet at times leaves us with feelings of despair. The friend that can cause our minds to play tricks on us.

Social media can become an addiction we can’t seem to put down because it’s in our pocket all day long. Our phones have become a necessity nowadays. It can almost feel like there is no escape, like we’re chained to them.

With social media, there is never down time. It never stops. There is always SOMETHING happening which can make people feel like there’s no time to relax.  Checking and rechecking to make sure we are still in good with our peers–or that we’re not missing anything.

With this endless cycle, it can feel like there’s constant noise and chaos. No true quiet time. But most don’t even realize it’s happening. And for teens and young adults, it’s all they’ve ever known. It just seems normal because it’s always been a constant in their lives.

Why is social media so powerful that we can’t put it down? It taps into some of our most basic needs, like connection and belonging. Social media feeds these two needs… or so we think. In this six part series, I will shed light on how social media satisfies our need for connection and belonging but also, how it can turn on us quickly causing major disruption for our mental wellbeing. I’ll also discuss how our natural tendency to be curious can create an additive pattern, increasing our levels of anxiety and depression.

Please read the other blogs in this series: