Mental health in a time of social media

Social media has brought a level of connectedness of my life to the lives of others that can be, at the very least, overwhelming.  It has also increased my awareness of the oneness of life, that deep realisation that I have always been attached, even before the frenzy of immediate availability to everything through my electronic devices.
 
It raises the question whether I can still experience well-being while enjoying the advantages of life in the social media fast lane?
 
In order to embrace well-being I need to experience that I have autonomy – this entails the freedom to make my own decisions.  So, if I remain vigilant regarding the choices I am making in my interactions on social media, I would suggest that it could certainly add to my sense of well-being.
 
I also need to be aware of the level of self-acceptance that flows from my social media feeds.  If the messages that I am receiving are contrary to myself being happy with self, I should investigate these messages.  Of course I can be challenged in a healthy and realistic way in areas of my life where change is needed.  
 
In order to experience well-being I need to experience a certain level of achievement in managing everyday situations.  If social media is aiding in this process of mastering life, I can keep at it!  If I am constantly aware of my current failures, I have to evaluate my social media exposure and adjust it in order to have a balance between being tolerated by others and celebrating my life successes with joy. 
 
Without positive relationships with my family, friends and others my well-being will remain compromised.  I will have to remain vigilant regarding the influence that social media has on my significant relationships.  If I notice that my relationships are flourishing, even flourishing through social media, I can simply continue with my current strategies.  I can enjoy the immediate chats, sharing of life events and remain connected to people who are far away geographically.  
 
If my relationships are suffering because I am constantly on my devices at the expense of face to face contact, I need to evaluate my screen time and quality of relationships with the people in my immediate circle of life.
 
A sense of well-being also requires that I have meaning in my life.  Through social media I can choose to influence the lives of others positively and meaningfully, while receiving great and much needed feedback about my own life.  This can lead to a deep sense of happiness and fulfilment.  
 
But I need to be able to evaluate that the content of my social media involvement is based on similar values to what I hold dear and whole.  Mindless involvement in the shallow experience of social media that only promotes beauty, fame and power will not lead to well-being, actually quite the opposite.  Deep feelings of inferiority, low self esteem and a lack of personal power can as easily be the fruit of mindless involvement on social media platforms.
 
A few qualifying questions to ask myself regarding my social media involvement:
 
Do I have a happy intimate relationship with my partner, or do my social media habits inhibit this relationship?
 
Do I have a network of close friends whom I actually see face to face from time to time?
 
Do I have time to focus on having an enjoyable and fulfilling career?
 
Do I partake in regular exercise, or am I spending most of my time online?
 
Do I follow  a nutritional diet?  Maybe one I found online?
Do I sleep enough, or am I compromising my sleep to be on a device?
 
Am I actively pursuing spiritual or religious beliefs, or have I substituted these for social media stimulation?
 
Social media can be so much fun and serve us so well. We need a constant reminder to live life in real time with all the wonderful advantages of real experiences as well.

JF
 

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