Ask yourself these questions before you post online

15 years ago, we didn’t know Facebook from Twitter (in fact, Twitter wasn’t even ‘born’ yet), and the concept of sharing every detail of our lives with strangers seemed a bit…weird. Yet today, 1.94 billion of us are on Facebook, and between this and our profiles on Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram, the world knows a lot about us—what we had for dinner, the name of our pet, and how we felt the moment our best friend got married.

Despite our constant use of social media, it snuck up on many of us who signed up believing we’d only use it ‘sometimes’. That means we don’t have a rulebook or guide on what to do—and what not to do, in cyber space. Often, this results in awkward status updates, over-sharing and sometimes, ruined relationships over miscommunication because we used the wrong emoji.

Do these consequences sound familiar to you? By asking yourself these questions before you post online, you will save yourself a lot of heartache and pain.

  1. Would I say this to someone in real life?

If you’re sharing something online that you’d never broach with a close friend, your spouse or a colleague, don’t post it. When you do so, you not only allow the world to invade your privacy, but you’re inadvertently telling the people you love that they are not worthy of your time or trust. If you need to discuss something but fear doing so, talk to a counsellor about developing strategies to do this.

  1. Will this hurt anyone?

Another great phrase for this one is, “Am I being passive-aggressive or ignorant with my post?” Anything that indirectly (or directly) points the finger at someone you know, contains prejudiced language or images, or uses triggering words needs to be edited or not posted at all. You may not set out to hurt anyone, but by simply posting in the public sphere you have great influence over people’s emotions. Be smart and post with clarity and a clear head.

  1. Am I doing this to feel important?

Are you posting selfies everyday? Do you receive a boost when people like your post or gives you a thumbs up? I know I do, which I why I have to constantly ask myself WHY I’m posting content online.

If you’re looking for affirmation and feel deflated when you don’t receive the response you were hoping for, consider stepping back from social media for a while. This habit can also be a symptom for feelings of deep inadequacy, so consider seeing a counsellor or talking about it with people you trust to begin healing.

  1. Does anyone care?

This isn’t an excuse to avoid activism (that’s an entirely different topic); rather it’s about the significance of your content. Do people online really care what you ate for dinner? Do they want to know you went for a walk, worked out or that you had a falling-out with a colleague?

There’s room for superfluous posts—a snap of dinner every once in a while or a work out isn’t going to do any harm, and sharing details is useful if you are actively looking for support and want to keep friends up-to-date. But posting stuff simply to keep yourself busy isn’t healthy. Join a community or catch up with a friend instead. Doing life together (mundane details and all) is much more meaningful in real life.

  1. Am I being too honest?

Social media and blogging are brilliant, because they allow people to be honest about their stories. Countless people have been inspired by what they’ve read on the Internet, and people find healing by telling their story. But there is a fine line between sharing and over-sharing.

Over-sharing often happens when we feel disconnected, afraid and unheard. Sometimes we’re angry, and occasionally we want pity or praise.

When you’re tempted to post something from this negative headspace, write it down on paper instead and show it to a close friend or your counsellor. Alternatively, you could type it out. But instead of posting it immediately, save it to your phone or computer, and re-read it again in 24 hours. Give yourself the chance to reconsider why you’re sharing it. You deserve to be heard and validated, but this doesn’t happen on the Internet, it happens in relationship, so tread carefully.

  1. Does this leave myself, or anyone I know, vulnerable to attack?

Another consequence of over-sharing is the risk of being hurt by people’s responses. If you are in a fragile emotional space or know that you or the people you love may be trolled or harmed due to what you’ve posted, seriously consider why you’re posting it.

We can’t take responsibility for the actions of other people, but we can prepare ourselves for this and even avoid it. Whether it’s a tweet, a blog post or a photo, if you know posting it could unintentionally hurt anyone, talk about it with someone first. Weigh up the pros and cons, and if you post, make sure you have people surrounding you to help with any fall out.

Do you feel anxious or stressed about your online relationships? Would you like to develop strategies to create healthier relationships and care for yourself? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

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It’s time to take a break from social media

It’s time to take a break from social media

I felt sick to my stomach as soon as I read the comments. Yet I compulsively kept scrolling through my Facebook feed, checking back to see if anybody else had responded.

It was the morning after the US election, and my news feed had lit up with over-arching statements, generalities and sharp, personal attacks. Like most millennials, I spend a disproportionate time in front of my phone screen, often to the detriment of my own health. The social commentary around the election had only elevated this, and over a period of three days I felt increasingly anxious, lethargic and unwell.

Technically, I should have stepped back from social media as soon as I became unsettled: but it’s like a drug. It’s the first thing I check in the morning, and the last thing I see at night. And even when I feel the negative side effects, it only takes one ‘like’ to receive the hit of gratification I need to keep going through the day.

I know it’s unhealthy, but as someone who works in communications, using social media is part and the parcel of my life. Yet after those few days of feeling depressed, I finally realised just how dangerous my social media obsession was, and I had to stop.

After I deleted Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snap Chat off my phone I didn’t feel incredibly different. But over the few days I spent on ‘sabbatical’ from my personal social media, I detoxed. The negativity, anxiety and anger ebbed away, and I regained some control of my emotional wellbeing.

I don’t have a perfect remedy to the negative side effects of social media, largely because I do enjoy using it. Facebook gives me the ability to connect with friends on the other side of the world, stay up-to-date with news, and do business. But now I’m back on, I realise I need to control it, rather than every comment, smiley face or emoji controlling me.

It’s not easy to step back from social media, but sometimes your own wellbeing requires you to put up boundaries in cyberspace as well as in real life. Here’s some indicators you may need your own social media sabbatical.

  1. You check it compulsively

It’s normal to check your social media regularly, but if you’re struggling to get through the hour without scrolling through your news feed, it’s time to stop. Social media should add value to your life, not detract from you actually living it.

  1. You have FOMO

FOMO (Fear of missing out) comes from a place of deep insecurity and a need for acceptance. Checking Twitter to stay ‘in the loop’ and finding value in the conversations, events and photos you’re in only adds to this mindset and will leave you unhappy.

  1. It’s compromising your real-life relationships

Online relationships are never a substitute for real life relationships. If your social media is detracting from time spent investing in your marriage, couple relationship, family time or friendships, you need to reprioritise.

  1. It’s distracting you

If you’re taking a Snap Chat while a friend is talking to you, you’re ignoring them. And while it’s become increasingly acceptable to be on social media while we’re with our friends and family, its essential we draw boundaries to keep our face-to-face interactions sacred.

The same goes for the work place. If you’re spending more time on your own social media than doing paid work, either behind a desk or with clients, it’s time to readjust your habits.

  1. You’ve created a pseudo identity

Some people create a false identity online with a different name and life for themselves. More often than not though, we keep our name but embellish our identity.

That means we only share ‘impressive’ images, great selfies, speak a certain way, or create hidden relationships in cyberspace. People online aren’t seeing a true representation us, and basing our identity on this is unhealthy and can be damaging.

  1. It negatively impacts your emotions

If being online causes to feel anxious, angry, agitated, depressed or nauseous, it’s time for a break. You may not even realise social media is cause of these feelings (and often the physical symptoms accompanying them), especially if this is a regular occurrence.

To test this, write down how you are feeling immediately after you check your social media. Then spend half a day free of it, and write down how you are feeling. Compare your lists: is there any difference? Before you check it again, write down any feelings you have. If you feel anxious or agitated by compulsion to use social media you’ll notice and can adjust your habits accordingly.

Are you addicted to social media? Does the idea of not being online make you feel anxious? Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now to book on the online diary.

Social Media’s Growing Impact On Relationships

10 years ago we didn't know Facebook from Tinder, and online dating was relatively new. Yet as social media has developed, so has the methods in which we build relationships with one another. In this infographic by Juliana Rae, we are given new insight into the affect social media has had on every part of our relationships. From meeting one another to marriage, breaking up and divorce- social media plays a key role in our lives now.

How has social media changed dating?

The fact Facebook asks for our relationship status means we are automatically categorised as ‘single’ ‘married’ ‘in a relationship’ or the classic ‘it’s complicated.’ This makes it easier for the 54 million singles in the USA to find out the suitability of a partner. In fact, 5.5 million use online dating services. And before you knock it, research shows that courtship is shorter for these couples.

In many ways, social media seems to be having a positive impact on relationships. It has allowed people to meet to keep in contact, but what are the negative consequences of this new phenomenon?

Think about the public response you receive when you post your relationship status on Facebook. The more ‘likes’ you get, the more you feel rewarded for achieving such a status. Your relationship which was once private has now been turned into a public spectacle. And how do you react when your partner’s ex, or even a close friend, comments on their photos? Do you feel jealous, or are you assured of your partner’s commitment?

Once upon a time it was ugly to break up by text message. Today, it is even uglier to break up in the public forum of social media. This infographic says that 25% of people surveyed found out a relationship had ended on Facebook. In this, we see that the old fashioned practice of communicating has been replaced with a public declaration that ultimately hurts everyone involved.

When we share our lives on social media, our personal details are documented for the world to see. When it comes to relationships, this means we will always somewhat be connected to one another. Whether a break up occurs due to the secretive infidelity of someone documented on social media, or a lawyer uses a web trail in divorce proceedings, we can see that for every benefit that comes with social media, there is also a negative.

How do you and your partner use social media? Do you use it as an excuse to avoid conflict or publicly air your grievances? Perhaps you feel safer getting to know someone over a screen before meeting them? Whatever role social media plays in your relationships, come to a mutual understanding with your partner about what information you will share and who with. Make a conscious decision to keep your private moments private, and if you want to make full use of the positive benefits of social media in finding a partner, do so with wisdom and caution. Allow social media to play a part in your relationship, but don’t let it dictate your wellbeing. In the end, the classic relationship where two people do life together off screen is far healthier than one shared with the internet for all to see.

 

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Would you like to discuss how to cultivate a healthy connection with your partner? Are you concerned about the role social media plays in your life? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.