Staying Sane in the Age of Social Media
Staying Sane in the Age of Social Media
by Helen Thomas, R.C.C.
Although breathtakingly beautiful, the hike I took this week was quite challenging for me. Out in nature, especially when pushing my body, is often when my mind is clearest, I feel most connected, and insights can come into focus. Here are some photos from the hike, along with some insights that decided to pop up on this unyielding mountain. Feel free to take them with you into your weekend and beyond.
I was at that point in the hike where I was questioning the idea of ever leaving my couch again. The incline was steep, and the people huffing and puffing behind us provided a convenient excuse to stop on the side of the trail to take a breather while they passed. Someone in my party commented, “We’re the slowest ones, everyone’s passing us.” For a moment, I agreed. It did seem as though streams of people were passing us.
Then I realized that we only see the people who are faster than us. The people who are slower than us will never pass, therefore we will never see them!
I found this to be a great metaphor for life, especially in the age of social media feeds.No matter your age, demographic, or preferred social media platform, if you use social media and enjoy its many wonderful benefits you know it also provides constant opportunities for questioning whether or not you measure up. Whether you’re a teen bombarded with images of impossibly “perfect bodies,” a 20-something seeing others having a ridiculously wild and fun weekend with fabulous friends that makes your social life feel lame, a 30-something who feels like the only unmarried, childless person on the planet, a 40- or 50-something comparing careers, promotions, bank accounts, cars or houses… the list goes on. The common denominator?
So how do we stay sane in the age of social media?
1. Focusing on our own goals related to our careers, personal lives and health. Spending some time dreaming up what it is we actually want and setting a detailed yet constantly evolving plan on how we want to make that happen can be a great start. The more we concentrate on our own path, comparison will begin to make less and less sense. When in that more rational headspace, we quickly begin to see that the people in our newsfeed’s successes have very little to do with our successes. A rising tide lifts all boats, if you will. To summarize, it’s simply the best advice your teacher ever gave you:
2. Keeping in mind that people only share what they want us to see. Could you imagine if under the smiling couple’s picture a caption read, “we just got back together after a break you never knew about” or a fancy new car’s description, “I’m using my student loans to pay for this”? Absolutely not! Newsfeeds do not represent reality. Just like the slower hikers on the trail the other day, we will never see the broadcast of missed marks. Although social media is a great way to stay in touch and connect, it is not the place to compare, if for no other reason than that you simply don’t know the whole story.
Above all, remember that the pace you are going up whatever mountain you are climbing is juuust fine. You’ll get to the top by focusing on your destination, setting your own pace, and taking it one step at a time. If you’re in the Vancouver, BC area and a mountain of not measuring up becomes too treacherous to navigate on your own, feel free to reach out. I’d be honoured to help.
Helen Thomas MC, RCC, LPC holds a Master of Counseling degree, is a Registered Clinical Counsellor in the province of British Columbia, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Arizona (LPC-15589).
Prior to practicing privately, Helen has professional experience working with individuals, families and groups in a non-profit general mental health outpatient agency setting. Helen also worked with adult and child survivors of domestic abuse in a residential shelter setting. Her practice in Vancouver is called liv wellness. livwellness.ca
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