Saving Your Self: Social Media

In 2005, only 5 percent of American adults were on social media and by 2011 the number exploded to 50% and now according to research by the Pew Research Center, nearly 72 percent of Americans are on social media. The US has the highest social media penetration of any country. but the U.S is not alone, now more than ever, people around the world are logging on.

With the growth of social media, so has the negative influences. Below you will find tips on how to keep yourself from becoming the “Bad Guy” on social media:

Watch What You Watch

Social Media is a very visual media and that is precisely why it is so effective. The human eye and brain processes 10-12 images per second. It takes us less than a couple of seconds to see a picture and infer meaning from it. Therefore, content truly is king–king of what you think and how you feel. Be careful for the kind of content you ingest daily. Is it negative or positive? You need to keep a pulse on how you feel after you watch certain kinds of content–even the content you like.  Even if you like political content, it is important to take a break from the news cycle to recharge. Be mindful of the content you curate and when and how you ingest it. Make time to incorporate quiet time, time with family, time for conversation and the outdoors. Remember, content matters. It can influence your self-image or your perception of reality. So make sure you cherry pick your content.

Porn and Depression

New research is breaking ground on the connection between pornography and depression. In a recent study, cited by Psychology today, it found that the depression rate for men who watched porn was nearly three times as high as those who did not. It is estimated that the porn industry makes between 6-97 billion dollars annually, which means more and more people are watching porn–and much of it online. While it is a booming industry, due to its addictive factor, it could also be diminishing your enjoyment of life. Social media has made it possible to share and create porn with a click. But it might be that click is leaving you with the negative effects of accute depression–symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, lack of concentration and suicidal thoughts. It is no wonder that men, who are the largest consumer of pornography are also the largest suicide demographic. Pornography has also been linked to aggression, sexual violence and other psycho-social disorders. Social media can be great, but don’t let it turn you into a monster.
Trolls and Stalkers

Social media gurus spend millions trying to find ways to make you return to their online platforms. They want–they need you to come back to check a status or view new content. The gurus have a vested interest because their sponsors and advertisers need eyeballs for their products and services. But you may be the unfortunate causality if you are not careful.  Humans have the capacity to grow attached to ideas and people–whether in real life or in the virtual world. We all understand the feeling when a beloved t.v. show ends its final season. The same emotions often exist for fans of social media content producers. We all love a good story, so it is easy to become invested in a story-line, even if it isn’t true.  The trouble comes in not being able to accept the content for what it is and then move on. Some people become obsessed with online personalities or seek to connect in destructive ways to hurt people that often do not know they exist. Be careful not to form unrealistic (positive or negative) attachments to people you have not met in real life. It is okay to like an internet personality, but always keep good boundaries and make mutually beneficial connections. If someone online does not wish to engage or engages in a way you do not like, simply move on, don’t be offended. Remember, they don’t know you. Don’t let social media make you a troll or a stalker.

Stop Hate-watching

Perhaps one of the most popular phenomena in recent times is the concept of “hate-watching” content. This can be anything from watching video content, following or befriending online personalities you do not like or reading publications with which you disagree. Voluntarily ingesting such content can create a long term internal resentment within you. This isn’t a good thing–because long-term resentment turn you into a . . . well, figurative, if not literal “hater.” Instead, if you find it unpleasant, simply step away. Refrain from the urge to write a nasty comment, reply with rancor or bitterness or seek to create drama for the content creator. Instead, find what is beuatiful in your world and focus on that. Over all, find things on social media that make you happy. Remember, all good things (friendships, marriages, businesses,etc) require boundaries, so keep good ones. Make a promise to yourself to be authentic–don’t write, comment or post anything you wouldn’t be proud to say in front of the person you care about most.

Social media is a powerful tool. Use it to make good connections, build communities, fortify businesses, make real friends and educate yourself. Remember, you are the ultimate authority in your social media world. If you don’t like something, simply log off. 

There is something beautiful on social media.  Find that.