Dear Therapist: I have a love-hate relationship with social media

Making sense of the world we inhabit

By Prateeksha Shetty

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Published: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 8:55 PM

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. It’s too time-consuming but at the same time, I can’t seem to get off it. How can I manage this better? — Naieka R.

Dear Naieka, most of us have an ambivalent relationship with social media. Although, we find it meaningless most of the time, we keep going back to scrolling and engaging, purely because social networking services (SNS) are built that way! They are rigged to keep us hooked. I find that keeping notifications switched off for such apps is crucial to reducing online activity. What can also help is limiting yourself to few apps and deleting accounts, thereby decreasing the frequency of usage. Limiting screen time to certain hours or time of day is another important strategy.

You may also need to keep note of why you go online — we generally tend to use apps when we are bored or restless, sometimes to avoid tasks that trigger anxiety or in an attempt to improve mood. Find out what is your prominent trigger and replace with a substitute behaviour along with recommended strategies. For instance, hobbies can easily replace screentime or simple chores that otherwise pile up can take precedence, following which you may reward yourself with scrolling.

We may also begin or end our day on social media, looking for validation and announcing ourselves to the world; if this is something that resonates with you, then you may need to introspect and look into larger context of how life is, in general, for you. Maybe social media is more exciting and fulfilling than our mundane lives which begets the question — what life do you envision for you to bridge the gap between virtual reality and real life?

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