How To Be Happier On and Off Social Media by Dr. Dorrie Cooper
The world is a different place now that social media is present. There are some good aspects to it. For instance, you can instantly see how people are reacting to a big event or you can connect to a positive community that promotes personal growth and happiness in your life. But, there are a lot of downsides to social media too. In fact, social media can create a lot of problems for your happiness with your relationships, career, and even health. Following are some solutions to social media problems that are common. While I take a tongue and cheek approach to some of the solutions please keep in mind they are manageable at the beginning stage and if the problem persists seek advice and immediately report any abuse. Research recommendations and if necessary contact the authorities and maintain your top security settings.
1. The Egotistical Friend Or Follower Problem
Social media offers a platform for the egotistical people of the world to display their new haircut, Brunch, day tripping, how many calories they ate, and how great of a person they really are. Outside of social media, we don’t put this kind of compulsive information overload on you about our lives, but for the social media ritual of a need to look, trendy hipster, happy or like a go-getter who has a perfect life on social media.
The problem is that you can start to lose respect for this friend. Let's face it unless you had a great brunch too, no one cares. These fixations become annoying to your life, rather than important. You can start to become disgusted with the way they present themselves to the world and what they feel is really important to portray. I find myself saturated with you rather than focusing on my needs for that day. This may lead to acid reflux reaction to that particular friendship and relationship. That, of course, can cause relationship problems and an eventual ‘break-up’ of the relationship altogether. My solution is to recognize why they need to be validated and then either validate them or ignore them. Someone who needs to photobomb and blog every detail of their social calendar in a vain way has very little self-worth. They do not have an inner-confidence that makes them feel strong and worthy in life; instead, they have an inner fear that they are not strong and worthy, so they try to get validation from their Facebook friends or Instagram followers or anyone else who will listen. Once you see that, they will become less annoying, and you can simply decide to help them feel better about themselves or ignore them altogether. However, if you are a friend, and you care about their mental health and happiness, you may want to give them the validation that they crave, especially if they interact with you in a positive way on and off social media. There is no harm in helping someone feel better about themselves.
2. The Unwanted Friend Or Follower Problem
You will get requests from people you don’t like to be friends on Facebook and other social media platforms. Saying no is certainly your legitimate right on and offline. I find myself saying yes to be polite because it makes nice for business. These days authenticity on social media trends but most of us either have more friends than possible or we may have the fortunate condition no fear of being friendless on social media. This makes it hard to hide from your mother-in-law, coworkers, ex-lovers, and ex-friends but if you have the time go for it. I am a sucker for saying yes if I think it helps somebody.
The problem is that you can really offend some people in your life if you don’t accept the friend request or acknowledge them as a follower. They obviously have an interest in your life and want to have a relationship of some sorts, and telling them ‘no’ is like telling them you don’t really like them or you are just nice to them when you have to see them in person. On the other hand offending people these days is relatively easy and so if it's business and you feel by catering to someone will affect your reputation and business, then pick your battles. As a psychologist, ignoring some social media accounts can cost you more by not following some people. Everyone has their secret rule to following someone or a business policy and if you follow someone who is not interested in your account or fails to acknowledge the value you bring, I would advise leaving it alone. Social media squabbles with celebrities who "dis" each other get nasty and cost them millions of followers and millions of dollars. The path to least resistance makes sense more for social media than offline.
The solution is to consider whether they are an important part of your life and, if they are, allow them to be your friend or follower on social media. You have more to lose by ignoring them than you do by accepting the fact that they are not just in your physical life but in your online life as well. If they are an ex, then go ahead and ignore them or block them. You put them out of your life for a reason, and ignoring them is just reaffirming that your relationship with them is done. If you let them in, even through social media, then you are giving signals that you want them back in your life.
3. The Negative Friend Or Follower Problem
Some people are rather positive in face-to-face interactions, but very negative online. They may post hate comments, religious rants, disturbing pictures, depressing stories, and other negative posts. I find that unless you hold similar beliefs then the time and energy for the rant usually depletes one's self-esteem as opposed to replenishing it.
The problem is that a negative friend online can drag you down and ruin your day, however, the question really boils down to if it is worth the hurt and depleted soul food to harbor this negativity. All of us are more than our social media posts of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you don't like how you feel then delete it. For every negative post, one is sure to find something good to make you laugh or learn from. Don't let negativity eat away your soul food. If it does, confront your thinking. How did I get here and what will it take until you can delete the negative emotions. Okay, what if it's not that simple. Do some perception checking, how do others react or respond. If you're feeling different then ask yourself if this resembles an offline issue that you need to look at and get some advice from a friend or further insight. While on and offline problems can be vastly different if you see similar patterns then invest in some reading. I noticed a patient of mine posting the most hostile thoughts about their encounters online and in fact, it resembled their depression and avoidance of their anger. You can leave their posts feeling worse than you did before you read or saw them, and you can take that information or image with you around for days, weeks, or months after seeing it. In short, the negative friend on social media can have a very negative impact on your life. Seek some personal advice from your doctor and decide if face to face counseling might help your self-esteem and your offline life.
The solution is to delete them as a friend or block them. It doesn’t matter if they get upset with you. Your happiness is much more important than being their friend online, and if they are affecting you in a negative way, then they are also affecting your mindset, relationships, and even health in a negative way. The more negativity you add to your life, the more negative it will be – guaranteed.
4. The Boss Trying To Become Your Friend Or Follower Problem
Besides LinkedIn, bosses don’t really need to be your friend or follower unless you consider them a friend offline. But, that won’t stop them from trying to be your friend or follower. Discretion is the better part of peace of mind. Chances are if you dislike your boss in real time, social media will just amplify it further. Be prudent about what you share about work and who you share about. It's like people recognizing themselves as characters in a novel. Avoid transparency and if you have tantrums about work rant offline to someone who has your back. Better yet, keep a work journal and review if your boss and a work setting are making you want to crash and die then seek some professional career advice and follow through with a plan to get out before you suffer from stress concerns in your overall health.
The problem is that information that you share on your social media profile may affect how your boss views you and interacts with you. This matters because they control the amount of success you have at work and how much money you are going to make. The solution is to politely tell them that you prefer to keep your work life and personal life separate. They should understand this and, if they are not petty people, let the issue go. Bosses know that they need to maintain a leadership role in order to keep things running smoothly at your place of employment and, unfortunately, that means that they need to act like more of a boss than a friend.
5. The Misunderstood Comment Problem
I think a podcast or social media chat about this subject would be invaluable. I would call it "Keep it to yourself." I had a mentor which told me it's no one's business of what you think of them unless it's positive. Writing and speaking are two different things.I think there needs to be a course for people in politics to learn how to offer constructive criticism and receive it. It’s much easier to convey what you want to say in person by using your body language than it is through your words. Plus, many people on social media are saying the bare minimum of what they need to say and using slang and acronyms that not everyone understands.
The problem is that often words do not give a whole picture of the meaning behind them and fight on social media can ensue because of a misunderstanding. For instance, I recently saw one person comment on a Facebook post where someone said ‘Happy Dwarfism Day!’ with a comment that said, “Don’t you think we are celebrating too many things now?” I think the commenter meant to be funny, not put down the day itself, but she came across as being bigoted towards the day and did not get a warm response from others. She felt bad about the response, and I can guarantee that it affected her day in a negative way. The comment from a Whitehouse staffer is going to be included in every social media relations course until we no longer use social media. Now while it was an appalling comment more of us have stepped into that cow patty than escape it. No matter what content you choose to comment about when in doubt please don't make it. It may not determine world peace but it will determine peace of mind. For that Whitehouse staffer, I suspect she will pay a very high price for a long period of time. My personal opinion is the fact that it came out on social media manufacture the crises by 10 times for all parties concerned. One advantage of writing is editing and if you can't find someone to review your work give a sample to a friend or read aloud. Yes, reading aloud is one of the best ways to use your auditory processing to be your own editor and friend. I would rather be my own friend in editing than my own enemy.
The solution is to be clear with your writing. And, if you think your comment is going to be taken the wrong way, then consider not putting it down. Other people will not die if you do not leave a comment, and it is better to leave no comment than one that other people may misinterpret and get upset with.
6. The Safety Concern Problem
What you see and hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.
On social media, you can feel a sense of warped safety – as if you are in a room full of people you know and nobody who has ill-intent is looking at your comments or posts in a way that could affect your life in a really big way. While it's easy to be seduced into think of social anonymity, the results can affect the rest of your life. Social media is not safe for the consumer or poster when thinking about people and their motives. There are clearly special reasons why some people troll on social media and why we observe people with severe mental health conditions posting their innermost conflicts online. Many people intend for it to manipulate someone, exploit another, or even worse wish bodily harm to another. One cannot underestimate human nature and social media and mental health. The minute we do there are fatalities to remind us of the underbelly of human functioning. None of us possess superpowers as to who will do us harm. Err on the side of safety and discuss it with a law enforcement professional and contact the social channel platform.
The problem is that there could be people out there who are wishing you harm. They could be seeing your post about going to a specific place at a specific time and get the idea that showing up there to watch or hurt you is a good one. You don’t know what is going on in people’s minds, and giving them personal information that they can use to find you, hurt you, or hurt your reputation is like giving them a key to your happiness.
The solution is to keep your profiles tight and only share personal information with offline friends and family. For some people, this may be hard to do, but it is important to remember that sharing all your information is not important for your happiness and safety in life, but protecting yourself is. You don’t need to get paranoid and shut down all your social media profiles. You can still enjoy what they offer and be safe at the same time.
7. The Feeling Unimportant Problem
It’s noteworthy to point out that in a classic chicken-or-the-egg scenario that reminds us that correlation does not mean causation, it was impossible for the researchers to identify if excessive social media use or perceived social isolation came first. My opinion is that it doesn't matter and often changes because real life gets in the way. As a person with a disability, I used social media very differently when I was critically ill than when I am healthy. So be careful before you diagnose yourself or someone else regarding their social media use. I would hope that other avenues of social support are available for someone to reach out and get their support face to face. In the larger digital world, the need for connection increases tenfold as technology becomes more impersonal. Thus, how many of us don't want to talk to a bot for customer service. We need to feel heard, seen, and humanely responded to but this eludes us as the world gets noisier.
Social media gives you access to movie stars, singers, and all the big names out there. It also gives you access to anyone that means something to you but isn’t in your current offline life. The problem is that you can start to believe that other people should respond and interact with you when you respond or interact with them. Moreover, you believe that they should do it in a certain way that you expect, and when they don’t, you get upset, feel left out, or feel as though you are not important. I see this all the time with fans of music artists or Hollywood star. People expect celebrities to respond will beg him to respond to their message and talk about how depressed they are that he won’t respond.
The solution is to let go of the belief that people have to interact with you or interact with you in a certain way. Just because you can contact them doesn’t mean they have to contact you back. It doesn’t mean that you are not important in this world, it just means that you are not important to them, and that’s ok. According to the latest statistics, there are 7.1 billion people on Earth. Even though social media connects us to everyone in an instant, we simply don’t have the time to focus on every person, comment, and message that we get, especially when we get thousands of them a day.
8. The Missing Your Life Problem
I have a son who has Autism and he is now a young adult. He is on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts that I have probably never heard about. He is 21-years-old, and his world is based on some social media activities. He isn’t the only one like this. I see so many people posting constant updates about their life, sharing stuff from the Internet, and sharing their random thoughts. I try not to monitor constantly like a hovering parent but I worry this becomes his life rather than having a life. Social media is an outlet for his interests in gaming, nature, and politics. I am to blame for the politics and it's one subject that moves fast and provides the most offbeat humor. If you take it too seriously, I think the consumption of it can be fatal.
The problem is that while they are on social media interacting with an online world, they are missing out on the present moment in their life! They are missing out on their offline relationships. They are missing out on the chance to play with their kids or their pets. They are missing out on the chance to go out and walk in nature and appreciate the world they live in. They are missing out on so many things that affect their happiness and personal growth.
The solution is to limit the amount of time you spend on social media sites or delete your accounts altogether. Trust me, life will go on if you don’t catch up on all that your friends or your idols are doing. You will find other things to do, like pay attention to yourself and your own interests, habits, and goals in life.
9. The Procrastination Problem
Some people work online a lot. Some people also have continuous access to social media through their phone, even while they are at work or school.
The problem is that being consistently connected to social media can promote procrastination in your real life. I mean let’s be honest, how many of us have opened up Facebook only to find ourselves spending more than an hour going through friend’s pictures and profiles. Procrastination will keep you from achieving the life you want, and doing that because you are focused on other people’s lives is going to be a regretful action later on down the road.
The solution for people who work online is to develop a mentality that social media comes after work, not during it. Even if you have to go on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to find posts or information, focus on only looking for what you need and save the rest for later. The solution for people at offline jobs or doing offline things that require their attention is to leave their phone at home or in the car. When you don’t have the temptation, it will be much easier to focus on what you need to get done.
Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. This means that you probably can't break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you avoid practicing them, so try as many of the strategies, below, as possible to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.
- Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past. Studies show that self-forgiveness can help you to feel more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future.
- Commit to the task. Focus on doing, not avoiding. Write down the tasks that you need to complete, and specify a time for doing them. This will help you to proactively tackle your work.
- Promise yourself a reward. If you complete a difficult task on time, reward yourself with a treat, such as a slice of cake or a coffee from your favorite coffee shop. And make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things!
- Ask someone to check up on you. Peer pressure works! This is the principle behind self-help groups. If you don't have anyone to ask, an online tool such as Procraster can help you to self-monitor.
- Act as you go. Tackle tasks as soon as they arise, rather than letting them build up over another day.
- Rephrase your internal dialog. The phrases "need to" and "have to," for example, imply that you have no choice in what you do. This can make you feel disempowered and might even result in self-sabotage. However, saying, "I choose to," implies that you own a project, and can make you feel more in control of your workload.
10. The Stalking Problem
When it comes to solutions to social media problems, this is a big way to pay attention to. We have all stalked our ex-lover or ex-friend or someone we secretly had a crush on. It is easy to do because they are everywhere online.
The problem is that putting our attention on someone who is not in our lives anymore (or never was) is a complete waste of time. It doesn’t improve your life. In fact, it usually makes you upset as you watch them having fun without you or living a life that you wish you were in. This detracts from your life not only by taking away your time and energy as you look them up, but by taking away your time and energy as you think about the picture they posted, the things they said, and the people who are interacting with them. What a waste of time!
The solution is to make your life and the people in it more important than your past. Don’t spend your precious time (that you will never get back) looking at what someone chooses to share online about their life. It does nothing for you in a good way, so live by the motto ‘If this doesn’t affect my life positively, I’m not going to waste time doing it’.