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  • Writer's pictureMelisa De Seguirant

Exercising Boundaries with Social Media


We love a conversation about boundaries in the context of human relationships, but what about our boundaries in our relationship with social media?


Scroll through some ideas to get you started...



 


Let’s talk about harm reduction.


In psychotherapy (specifically addictions counseling), harm reduction is the terminology used to describe an approach to treatment aimed at minimizing the negative consequences of substance use rather than demanding or striving for abstinence. 


I find this model to be a helpful framework for social media use, because complete disengagement from social media is not generally realistic. 


Most of us rely on social media to some extent whether it be for personal or professional networking, or mere entertainment. Taking breaks is certainly beneficial, but attempting complete disengagement often results in relapses and proves unsustainable long-term.


Rather than throwing out social media altogether, how can you engage it more mindfully and purposefully? 


 


Doom scrolling is a highly effective way of activating the nervous system and flooding it with stress. 


In an attempt to protect us from harm, our brains are wired towards tracking possible threats. Our hypervigilance increases as our nervous systems experience & take on trauma. Though nervous system activation can be a helpful mechanism for promoting future safety, prolonged activation can be harmful, and overconsumption of bad news can lead to increased depression and anxiety.



The lure of doom scrolling…


So why do we do it? What makes bad news so compelling? Social media addiction is referenced as the culprit in some research, whether perpetuated by FOMO or pre-existing neurosis. (Doomscrolling Scale: its Association with Personality Traits, Psychological Distress, Social Media Use, and Welbeing, Seydi Ahmet Satici, Emine Gocet TekinM. Engin Deniz, and Begum Satici, Published online 2022 Oct 19). 


Anecdotally, in my own therapy practice I find activism and a strong value on social justice to be additional fuel for doomscrolling. There is this misconception that as activists we need to be inundated with bad news in order to be motivated to action. Knowledge is power, right? As long as we don’t take in so much that it immobilizes us.


Returning to the harm reduction conversation for a moment, the suggestion I offer is not to disengage completely, but to promote some balance. Intentionally take time to interact with sources of hope, playfulness, creativity and inspiration in your down time, not just the doom and gloom.


 




Generally speaking, social media is healthier for us when we use it for connection rather than comparison


If you find yourself using social media more for comparison than connection, it may be time for an overhaul. 







Questions to consider:


  • What accounts are you following?

  • Why?

  • How do you feel when you interact with these accounts, or when their content pops up on your feed?

  • What thoughts enter your mind? What thoughts about yourself?

  • What assumptions are you making about other people’s lives?

  • How can you refocus on the things you are building in your own life?

  • What areas of need have been illuminated by social media that you are prepared to take steps towards?

  • What accounts bring you the most joy?

  • How are you using social media to  connect with the people who lift you up?



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