Eliminating Social Media Negativity for the New Year

By Jessica Glynn, LMSW

The start of the new year is a good time to reflect on accomplishments in the previous year, as well as a time to think about areas in which you would like to grow and change. Social media can be a great way to connect with old friends or loved ones, or even get the latest updates on news and trends. However, certain parts of social media can affect us negatively, especially if we follow accounts that we don’t actually enjoy seeing pop up on our news feed. often we stay “friends” or “followers” merely for our number and the possible “likes” they may come with. This type of thinking is when social media can start to become a nervous obsession of scrolling, checking, and the constant urge to stay connected for fear of missing out.

So this leads to the question, what are we actually looking for during all of this checking and searching? Perhaps it is to see who went where, who they were with, and how great of a time they were having? But, why? It isn’t like we would or could necessarily go out with these people, but for some reason we feel like we are missing out. The reason is comparison. We are comparing and contrasting what we have done to what others are doing. The problem with this is that most people only publish pictures that depict happiness and success. This comparing often leads to insecurities and negativity about ourselves and our accomplishments. It can lead to feeling like we are behind in some way because we haven’t gotten engaged, married, had children, bought our first property, etc. The list of have nots can go on and on, and it can make us minimize our own accomplishments and what we have to be grateful for in our own lives.

Other hazardous search patterns are those of former romantic partners, ex- friends, and perhaps even “frenemies.” Maybe a certain romantic interest left you hanging a while back and is now all of a sudden liking your pictures. What could that possibly mean? The level of skepticism could become increasingly distracting and stressful.

In the new year it could be a good idea to be mindful of the emotions that come up for you when you are scrolling through your feed. You have the right to decide if you want to continue following a page. If following a particular person is making you feel sad, stressed, anxious, angry, or any emotion that just doesn’t feel so good, unfollowing might be your best decision. Giving up the access to your toxic posters can be very difficult, but should inevitably be a very freeing and uplifting feeling when you no longer have to be dragged down by the negative emotions that they induce. You may get the urge to look again after you unfollow, but urges typically only last 20 minutes and if you can get through them for a few weeks, that habit and urge will eventually fade. Your time and energy can then be focused on the positivity that exist in your present life to live your best 2019.

Jessica Glynn is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy LCSW. If you would like support in prioritizing and taking care of your mental health, contact Cobb Psychotherapy and see how therapy can help.

Elizabeth Cobb