uch has been written about the hazards of social media. For some of us, it can become an all-consuming addiction. But there are ways to navigate your favorite social platforms that enhance your real-life relationships. Social media can bring people together when it is healthy and well-integrated. But when it’s not integrated with real-life connection, it can amplify loneliness for some. This may be especially true in a time of pandemic isolation.In an article in Psychology Today
, clinical psychologist Lara Otte notes that much of social media lacks genuine connection: “Frequently these are performative interactions rather than meaningful, human conversations: ‘I like your post’ vs. ‘I understand something about you and want you to understand me, too.’”
“Emotional safety is a key component of making real connections,” Otte states. “Making real connections requires vulnerability and courage.” Feeling accepted and not judged helps us be genuine and comfortable taking emotional risks.
Although some people have curated their social media to enhance their feelings of safety, many find that digital interactions are prone to more hostility and meanness than real-life relationships.
Roughly 80 percent of Americans use some form of social media, according to Pew Research Center. These free platforms are everywhere. Their algorithms are designed to allure and keep us scrolling. How do you tip the scales of social media usage to benefit you?
First, spend less time looking at your social media feed. According to Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, too much screen time, and not enough face-to-face communication, means fewer chances to practice empathy. As a result, people get worse at “reading” each other’s emotional expressions. And that can erode our ability to connect.
The National Council for Mental Wellbeing, offers some easy tips: