SOCIAL MEDIA AND YOUR EMOTIONS — MAYBE IT’S TIME TO LOG OFF!

Do you feel stressed, anxious, depressed, sad, angry, or overwhelmed on a regular basis? Do you know why? Can you point to a specific circumstance in your life that would explain the, “Why” of your feelings? If not, then I have a question I would like to ask you. The question might surprise you but hear me out on this okay? Here goes! “How much time do you spend on Facebook or other social media?” I’ll explain why I am asking a little later.

Traditional media such as TV, radio, and newspapers gives us information where we have very limited ability to give our thoughts on matters. Todays social media not only gives us information but gives us the ability to communicate back.

I believe there are now over 20 social networks in operation across the globe. However, Facebook as you might suspect reigns supreme out of all of them. What began as a way for college students to connect has grown into one of the world’s largest social networks.

Statistics show that the average Facebook user has 155 friends. So at the very least, that means, there is a potential of input from at least 155 sources along with any comments posted that could contribute to your newsfeed at any given time. Now add in the various news platforms or other Facebook pages pushing their content unasked for on your newsfeed and that can be a staggering amount of information to peruse.

If you are a regular reader of my blogs you might remember a blog I wrote over two years ago where I touched on the subject of limiting ourselves to the negativity we can be exposed to on social media. That was back in 2015. And “My, oh my!,” a lot of junk has “come down the pike” wouldn’t you say?

As we check in to see “whats new” with our friends and family on social media we are inadvertently confronted with information that we haven’t solicited. Along with educational and inspirational stories, recipes, decorating tips, funny memes, etc., Facebook can also be rife with information that is disturbing, shocking, scary, maddening, and so on and so on.

When’s the last time you logged on to your account and DIDN’T stumble upon some post, article, or video that made you feel sad, angry, annoyed, anxious, depressed, inferior, hurt, fearful, or worked up? You might have logged on for a quick “Facebook break” and after enjoying a cute video of your best friends little daughter dancing her heart out one minute, the next post in your newsfeed can wipe the smile right off your face in a heartbeat. Here’s a list of the type of posts that I’m talking about that has the potential of turning any warm and fuzzy feelings you might have been feeling into hot and bothered emotions.

  • Politics, Politics and MORE Politics

  • Warnings of how to recognize the signs of various cancers or other life threatening diseases

  • Missing or abused animals

  • Religion

  • Sensationalized “news” stories

  • Devastation worldwide by natural disasters

  • Go Fund Me pages for people you don’t know going through traumatic situations

  • Civil unrest

  • Protests/boycotts

  • Opinions, OPINIONS, OPINIONS!

Do you recognize any of these hot button topics? I believe we can all agree that each subject has the potential of invoking an emotional response. If you don’t think so all you have to do is read some of the threads that follow such posts to know that this is true.

Along with stirring up some hornets nests social media and Facebook in particular also make people more aware of sad or traumatic events in the lives of not only close friends and family but people they don’t even know and will never meet. This can cause a noticeable increase in stress to many people. It is a psychological concept that stress is contagious; other people’s stress and sadness can cause us to feel those same emotions, even if we are not directly involved.

With this being said, I will also say there are many benefits of using social media, such as feeling more connected, more supported and more involved. However, it is beneficial for everyone to be aware of what and how much we allow ourselves to be exposed to also. As with so many other areas of our lives the key word to keep in mind here is moderation.

So now I will ask you again — “How much time do you spend on Facebook?” Has reading this blog made you stop and consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe the emotions you have been feeling could be connected to the daily barrage of stressful posts? If so, I hope you will contemplate whether staying logged off for longer periods of time instead of logging in frequently would help you to avoid unnecessary and undo stress.

Regardless of the cause, if you have been experiencing any of the emotions that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog it’s to your benefit to find out why and then do something about it. If you would like to talk to someone that can help you with sorting out the feelings you are dealing with I encourage you to call my office at (616) 516-1570 or click on the “contact” tab to schedule an appointment.

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