Social media is one of the most addicting behaviors in Orlando and in modern society, with so many outlets we are instantly connected with millions of people. We watch our friends snapchat stories to see their everyday life. We follow our friends and celebrities Instagram accounts to see pictures of their lives. We are friends on Facebook to see memories and major events. We follow our friends and celebrities on Twitter account to see what they’re thinking. The list goes on and on, with something new popping up every year. While this seems like harmless fun, filled of art, happiness, interesting people and places, we are actually engaging in addictive behaviors. In individual counseling, social media has even become a way for people to build mass support, which can quickly become a crutch and inhibit getting professional help.
Think about the first thing we do when we wake up, chances are we scroll through our phone notifications and text messages. We see what we missed while we were asleep. We check periodically through the day, even sometimes getting notifications when our friends or favorite celebrities post on various platforms. As an individual therapist, who practices empowerment through change, I challenge you to keep track of just how many times you check your Instagram per day after reading this article. It seems like harmless fun, and almost second-nature to check these periodically. I have been guilty of closing an app, and out of habit reopening it immediately after, expecting something new to pop up.
According to research done by The Entrepreneur, the average American will spend five years of their life on social media, which averages to about 2 hours a day. An American teenager will spend nine hours on average engaging on social media. The harsh comparison is that we spend a year and three months on average actually socializing with friends and family. Considering that a main complaint that individual therapists in Orlando hear about is difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, this statistic is even more alarming. Check out the rest of the article here:
You may not see a connection in social media and mental health but there definitely is one. Social media is aimed to place a facade over our real lives. We post our happiest moments with our loved ones, our most recent vacations, a photo shoot in our favorite outfit, but that’s all. We have this platform to brag about ourselves, our lives, and those in it. What about the rest of the time? Even celebrities, Instagram models, and complete strangers go through lives difficulties, but we don’t see that part of them. We see just enough to be jealous of their lifestyle and the things that they do. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others, developing life expectations, and instantly disappointing ourselves based on these harsh judgments of other people’s lives. Individual therapy focuses on self-esteem building exercises that often include a detox from social media for this very reason.
Social media makes life more difficult by developing expectations that translate to our own lives, our own relationships, our jobs, everything. Social media gives us the immediacy and value we want in our own lives. Another controversial issue surrounding social media is cyber bullying. Putting ourselves out there and exposing our looks, our views, our true self allows for input or unwanted feedback from those that disagree or are insecure. It is common for someone with low self-esteem or insecurity, even jealousy, to use social media as an outlet to put others down and enhancing their own worth.
This is a toxic behavior that does affect everyone involved, especially the person being bullied. In this scenario, remember it is very easy to say what you want behind a screen and if you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it at all. For people you’re bullying based off pictures and posts, remember you don’t know who they really are or what they may be going through behind the scenes. If you’re using social media as an outlet for validation, you may need to reconsider your purpose for using. The damaging effects of cyber-bullying can be dealt with in individual therapy, but the trauma can last a life-time.
However, social media isn’t all bad if used correctly. These platforms are great for business, networking, finding new places to eat or visit, for promoting your brand and sharing things you love. This can be done without constantly comparing yourself to everyone. Developing the right mindset about social media and what it can do is a good start, as well as being aware of what you post, your following, your privacy, and purpose behind joining. As mentioned before, it can be very consuming – you want to feel in the loop, validated, a part of a community, but this can be achieved without being addicted or relying on social media for finding parts of who you are.
If you notice that social media has taken over aspects of your life, or your self-worth, or find that you are using it for unjust purposes, it might be time to take a hiatus. Here are a few individual counseling techniques to try:
Overall, become more self-aware of your usage and dependence on social media. Pay attention to just how much you use it and make adjustments as necessary. Trust me, I get that social media can be fun, and you can instantly feel a part of something, connect with millions of people, expand your business or brand, and provide validation, but ensure you are doing it for the right reasons and set boundaries for ourselves.
Remember: all of our lives are filled with moments not found on a screen, whether good or bad. Not everything we do or feel needs an audience.
If you are looking for therapy in Orlando and having difficulties in relation to social media dependence, self-worth, or validation, you can contact a counselor by emailing us or calling 407-592-8997 at Orlando Thrive Therapy. Check out our website and other blogs for more information on our practice. If you are a college student, we offer reduced rate sessions. Call us today to find out more.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.