I am in a lot of Facebook business groups. Me and thousands of other people all striving to do their best, grow, learn and succeed. Despite the community these groups offer, doesn’t it seem like everyone is moaning about the dangers of social media.
The pitfalls of social media? How annoying the spam and self promo is? Sure. But there’s something important people aren’t talking about – social media is making us lonely.
But it doesn’t have to. It all depends on how you use it. It’s really not all bad.
I love social media; it is such a great tool to elevate yourself. Now, I am not a shy person and am not afraid to have my say but I have noticed there are social media pitfalls that exacerbate loneliness and sense of isolation for some.
1. It satiates our appetite for socialisation without actually meeting those needs
Before social media was invented, sitting at home all day made you want to socialise. That’s because us humans are social creatures. We are supposed to live in family groups. It’s this need for intimacy and a sense of community that drives us to seek company and then nurture the relationships in our life.
Sadly, social media has satisfied the urge to seek company without actually finding it. It is the illusion of having company.
As time goes by, we have fewer and fewer meaningful connections in real life. The lonelier we feel, the more we turn to social media to satisfy that need – and the further we isolate ourselves from external bonds. Don’t forget the joy in meeting people face-to-face, having a cuppa, a laugh over a meal and doing business belly-to-belly. You’ll be surprised at how much you have missed this interaction.
2. Comparisons are dangerous
This is what really gives social media a bad wrap. It’s like a stage and everyone wants to strike their best pose. Very few people are raw, real and completely authentic about their struggles. They say they are but a lot of the time it’s just contrived marketing guff designed to manipulate.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing our real-life selves (the off-screen version) with everyone else’s’ best Insta pouting poses. If there was ever any self-doubt, you can now multiply it and label it a full-on sense of insecurity.
3. Cyberbullying is real and it’s lethal
Cyberbullying is responsible for a number of teen suicides across the world…and a lot of pain amongst adults, especially in some of these Facebook mothers and business groups (there’s some nasty people out there). Behind a keyboard, hiding behind a screen, people become more outspoken and more brutal. I have seen some truly heartless and cruel posts aimed at people just asking for help.
When I post anything online, I picture everything on a billboard with my photo next to it. I ask myself if I am proud to stand by what I have said to others. If everyone on the internet could adopt this attitude, it would make a tremendous difference to the safety of these online platforms.
4. It pulls you away from your real-life circumstances
Social media plays right into our sense of addiction and the need to escape reality. Dissociation is a survival tool that humans employ when they are stressed or experiencing trauma.
It is the way in which we detach from a point of pain – for some, it’s alcohol, or maybe something subtle like procrastination.
The point is to find distance between the trigger and yourself. The fact that we detach from reality when we pick up our mobile devices makes us vulnerable to becoming addicted. It also means that when we do check our phones, we are no longer present.
Whether it’s a quick look at the dinner table, or scrolling through notifications while we’re at a party. Those around you no longer have your attention which can lead to relationships losing a sense of closeness and over time, you drift apart.
Use social media, but use it with purpose and intent
One of the most significant dangers of social media is the way it draws you in. I know I have logged in to quickly retrieve some information or send someone a message and before I know it, I’ve been scrolling for an hour or two. I go on now with purpose and intent. What I say impacts my brand and if I am going to use a tool, it has to elevate my brand. You should too.
Use it to connect with others in a positive way. Stay out of debates. And most importantly, be aware of what you’re looking for. Are you seeking social fulfilment? Avoid logging on.
Once you have completed the task you set for yourself on social media, log off. Be disciplined. Use these platforms as leverage tools and nothing else.