“I feel so inspired and confident after scrolling for the past 15 minutes!” Not something people usually say about social media...
There are many positive aspects, such as the ability to stay connected to faraway family and childhood friends. It goes beyond that when you connect with like-minded people and create new friendships. It’s fun seeing family and friends’ exciting news, as well as acquaintances getting engaged, kicking butt in their career, adopting a puppy, writing a book, and so on. I enjoy being able to share in these celebrations and find myself “loving” a post.
However, I do feel social media has a dark side.
I especially feel this way as a highly sensitive person (HSP), a term coined by psychologist Elaine Aron, which refers to people who feel too much and too deeply.
Here are six reasons why social media may not be for sensitive souls:
1. Wasted Time
I'm sure you've been there-you touch a social media icon on your phone and then wonder where that twenty minutes went! It can be difficult to get a break with such immediate access. For HSP's, it's important to use downtime in other ways since stimulation such as lights, noise, and negative conversations easily drain us. Instead, we could feel more productive or relaxed by going for a walk, taking a bath, journaling or getting into bed earlier.
2. Compare and Despair
We may see a weight loss or dream trip post and feel badly about ourselves. (This happened to me when I saw baby photos while going through fertility struggles.) When you're sensitive, posts like this may trigger deeper emotions. Of course we want to be happy for others, but it can affect our own confidence. On the flip side, things may not always be as they appear. Someone’s life may seem perfect in every way, but it just looks that way from the outside. Who really knows what others are going through behind the filter and screen. I’ve seen the “perfect couple” get divorced even after a recent post which had me judging my own marriage. It’s best to be grateful for who and what you have in your own life.
3. So Many Emotions
HSP's typically experience empathy when seeing others struggle. Empathy is the ability to understand and share others’ feelings. We often see personal experiences on social media. Recently a police officer in our community passed away suddenly. My heart ached when someone shared a photo of his family crying while his casket was brought into the funeral home. As a firefighter wife and new mom, my eyes filled with tears seeing this. That photo is etched in my mind. When I see sad posts, including child or animal abuse articles, I want to cry and help in some way, but that isn’t always possible. It’s best for us to continue making memories with our loved ones.
4. Posting Pressure
There I am taking another photo of my baby and feeling like I'm supposed to write a fun post. There is this pressure to stay consistent and relevant, as I often see other people doing, especially business owners. But it takes me out of the moment and then I get frustrated! It’s hard to be present in our lives when we are constantly wondering about our next post. It’s one more thing to add to the long to-do list in our daily lives. Instead we could be focusing on new skills, such as learning to play the guitar or taking a class.
5. Spending Money
Have you ever talked to someone about a product and there it is on your phone that afternoon? The marketing technology with social media is mind-blowing. They can target specific audiences in order to make sales. I have found myself clicking purchase more than I’d like to admit. As a sensitive soul, I don’t need more stuff cluttering up my home and causing anxiety. I’d rather save and spend purposefully in my community.
6. Total Addiction
According to Harvard University, social networking sites light up the same part of the brain as taking addictive substances. For example, when we receive a notification, the brain receives a rush of dopamine, causing a feeling of pleasure. Of course we want to continue that good feeling so we desire notifications. And although social media may feel like it’s connecting us to others, it has been shown to actually create feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression. People who are sensitive crave more feelings of pleasure since they feel it so intensely, but they may be creating unhealthy habits. It might be helpful to find a positive way to have those feelings, such as grabbing coffee with a friend and getting a hug.
If you can relate, it may be time to re-think your relationship with social networking sites. It may be helpful to add up how much time you spend because in the United States, the average person spends almost two hours per day. Imagine what you could be doing with up to 14 hours per week! You can set more boundaries with your phone, turn off notifications, have a weekday free of social media, find an accountability partner, and so on in order to feel less anxious and overwhelmed.
Shayna Mahoney is a holistic life coach whose mission is to give women hope to face their anxiety and fears. She has guided hundreds of women through her unique HOPE Journey™, a holistic and personalized coaching experience to find peace and purpose within. She is also the creator of HOPE products, which offer mindfulness through the senses.
She lives on Cape Cod with her high school sweetheart, baby boy and three rescue pets. She loves being in nature, singing, dancing, reading, doing yoga and having deep and meaningful conversations that uplift and empower women. You can download her free 5-minute anxious to calm meditation at: www.ShaynaMahoney.com
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