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Social Media Break

If you are anything like me, you start your day checking out your social media pages. I am of the Facebook/Instagram generation however all the social media platforms tap into the same primal need for connection. I spend more time than I would like to admit perusing social media, even when it feels vaguely unsatisfying and leaves with me a longing I struggle to name. Social media pings the same neurological pathways as food, stimulating conversation, and sex, activating the brain's reward system (Haynes, 2018) With each comment, like, and online interaction dopamine is released essentially rewarding social media usage.

So what's the problem? While there are many benefits to using social media including connection to friends/family, developing groups of similarly minded people, greater access to support groups, and exposure to different ways of thinking there are also downsides including increased anxiety, negative comparisons, increased potential for depression, and increased pressure to alter the self to fit online groups (King University, 2019). It can also take up a lot of time; time that could be spend connecting physically with loved ones, being outside, developing skills/hobbies, reading, or simply being present in the moment.

What did you do before you had social media? I remember spending time in the morning reading, talking to my family, and sometimes just enjoying the silence. There was something simple and pleasant about starting the day quietly and without all advertising and targeted pulls of social media.

When I have clients tell me about how they can't keep up with the pressures of life, when they tell me that compared to others they aren't good enough, I often recommend that they take a social media break. The virtual world allows us to present what we want to, glossing over our moments of struggle, boredom, and failure. That doesn't mean they aren't there. Social media can be insidiously deceptive, presenting others' lives as an endless stream of positivity, success, and pleasure. Simply put, social media presents curated lives. To compare an unfiltered life in the real world to a carefully edited virtual one is bound to produce feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes the cure is to close the laptop, shut off the phone, and turn to the art of living a life rather than presenting it online.

One of my hobbies is photography

There is a freedom in turning off all the noise of social media. In turning away from the comparisons, the half-truths, and the endless filters. So stop reading, take a breather, and just feel this moment, whatever it has for you.

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