Shut down the Snapchat!
Don’t worry — this is NOT another lecture about how you should put down your phone once in awhile and appreciate the beauty of the world (though that’s not such a bad idea)!
Instead, this is simply a cautionary tale about the dark alleys you can end up in when you spend too much of your time on social media.
As you already know — but probably forget — SO much of what’s posted on social media is misleading, inflammatory, and flat out wrong. That applies to articles and so-called “news” as well as to what that person you met at a party last week posts about themselves.
Lumped on top of the misinformation that’s out there are the icky head games often triggered by the posts you read. Your self-confidence can take a serious hit from too much time and the wrong attitude about what you’re reading on social media.
And here’s an example of how social media can ruin your relationships and your self-esteem:
A client of ours, like all of her friends, checks her phone whenever she gets a chance. (Admit it, you probably do the same.)
During breaks at work, before, after, and sometimes during meals, and at stoplights (never while driving though), she catches up on new posts, videos, Tweets, and snaps. It can be a lot of laughs and helps her stay clued in to what’s going on socially too. She knows who’s having a party the upcoming weekend and which of her friends will be there. On Monday morning, she can relive the hilarious moments and some that are cringe-worthy, too.
But social media stopped being enjoyable for our client after she and another woman began to compete for the attention of a guy that she went on a few dates with. She thought the guy was really and truly interested in her, but then it all turned ugly when his ex started flooding her social media accounts with nasty comments and the woman’s own recent photos of dates with the guy. This culminated in the guy posting rude remarks on our client’s Facebook wall, calling her “obsessed with him” and a “stalker” before unfriending her.
As you can imagine, our client felt publicly shamed and embarrassed, and all of this over a guy she was just getting to know. Because their social circles overlap, she’s always worried she’ll run into the newly reunited couple she doesn’t ever want to see again! She’s considering deleting all of her social media accounts, but that won’t fix the way she feels.
Of course, your life may be very different from this client’s story. Maybe you’re already in a committed relationship and are generally confident and happy.
Well, unfortunately, a social media habit may form an obstacle to the kind of love, trust, and happiness that you want to have (and sustain) no matter what your relationship status.
Of course, it’s not social media that’s BAD or inevitably problematic. It’s the way so many of us use social media, to the point of abusing our own confidence and sense of self worth.
Here are 4 ways social media messes with your head (and your relationship) and how to protect both:
1. You Think You Know Someone… But You Don’t.
It’s easier for people to pretend to be someone they are not online, than it is face-to-face. Be on the lookout for inconsistencies and statements that just don’t make sense. Whenever possible, base your assessment of another person (and of their intentions) on facts you can verify.
If you’re in a long distance relationship, create clear agreements with your partner that you can both prove are being kept. Be open and honest about the kind of commitment you’re looking for and, when it’s not a fit, be willing to walk away.
2. You Get Sucked Into Comparing Yourself — and Always Come Up Lacking.
A social media habit can be a real drain on your self-esteem…if you allow it. Just remember that people don’t usually post the bad hair day photos of themselves on social media and many use the filters on their camera (or even Photoshop) to make themselves look in the best light possible. The same goes for posts about what’s going on in their lives.
The moment you realize that you’re assessing yourself based on what you think you’re seeing on social media, that’s your cue to step away from the computer and to put down your phone. Try to bring yourself (and your confidence) back and find something to appreciate about who you authentically are now.
3. You Forget What’s Most Interesting and Important to YOU.
The barrage of “trending” posts, ads, selfies, much-shared memes, and more can start to take up a lot of your time and energy. These influences can even begin to shape your activities and where you focus your attention. This is detrimental to what you genuinely DO want to do.
Don’t abandon other pursuits, goals, dreams, or even simple hobbies. If it revs you up in a positive way, make time for it! Follow your interests and passions to keep the spark alive in a long-term relationship, or stay in a place where you’ll more easily attract an amazing partner.
4. You Get Distracted From What Really Matters.
Don’t let social media distract you from your priorities in life. Yes, it’s a fun diversion and a good way to stay in contact with friends and family, but don’t let it become so central to your life that you stop actually living it.
Always question what you’re reading online and always return to what most matters to you.
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 4 Sneaky Ways Social Media Kills EVERYTHING You Love (For Real!).