How To Stay Sane On Social Media In 3 Simple Steps

The Problem: Social media is omnipresent in our society but is not really representative of reality.

The Science: Research has shown that social media can harm your well-being if you take it too seriously.

The Solution: Re-evaluate your relationships with your social media accounts with these 3 tips!

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…pick your poison. All of these sites have the ability to make us feel connected, supported, and even loved. Yet, they also can make us feel rejected, envious, and excluded. The key to mastering these sites is neither to conform nor to completely abandon them. The secret to staying sane on social media is to compartmentalize the “life” you see on the screen (including your own) from the one you live every day.

The Virtual “Reality”

Social media allows people ultimate control over how the world sees them. Ever wonder why your newsfeed is full of announcements about personal accomplishments? Or why do photo albums only showcase a person’s “good side?” Well, science shows that people selectively post to boost their own self-esteem and popularity. Science has also shown what happens when you compare yourself to this unattainable standard: you feel dissatisfied with your own life and even at times depressed.

Your Reality

Life is full of good days and bad days. We all know negative events affect our moods.  Be aware that what’s going on in your headspace completely alters how you view someone else’s Myspace. If you’re feeling down, the place to go for respite is not the internet. Seek out a true friend whom you can trust to listen to you and embrace the whole story. Try having a real human connection, not a virtual one. Scrolling through internet pages isn’t going to change the situation anyway!

Become a Social Media Ninja

You don’t have to go cold turkey on social media to escape the culture of comparing it fosters. Sure, it can make you happy to quit it, but deleting your profile can also deepen the feelings of social isolation. I’ve personally run the gamut of social media personas: one month I was the divine creator of my perfect life and the next the brooding, isolated black sheep. Stay steady and sane by following these 3 tips:

  1. Keep Everything in Perspective: The way to combat a filtered, concentrated version of life first is to take everything you see or read with a grain of salt. Be happy for your friends if they succeed, but draw a line in the sand when you see an album of professional self-portraits. Of course, someone will look flawless when they’re bathed in studio lighting!
  2. Don’t Read into Things: There’s no better way to achieve inner peace than to learn to take comments at face value, especially on social media. Nuance, tone, and body language all get lost in translation when typed in the permanent ink of the internet. Also, learn to forget the metrics on your accounts: your number of friends, of likes, or retweets. You can’t tell the difference between someone who didn’t “like” your post or who just didn’t see it!
  3. Check your Negative Emotions on the Screen: Negative emotions color our interpretation of the world. Now that you know what you’re in for when you log in don’t make things worse! You can take a couple of days away from your account, or you can take the challenge to be completely objective when you look at your newsfeed. Just like happiness, the choice is your own.

It’s frivolous to think we can completely change how people present themselves on social media. What we can control is how we view, react, and respond as individuals to others and ourselves.

Emily Stark
Emily Stark is a student at Yale University working towards a degree in Public Health. She competed on the university's Track and Field team and is currently training for a marathon. She feels most at home when she's on the trails, in the kitchen, or in the library.
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