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

Making sense of the world we inhabit



By Prateeksha Shetty

Published: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 20:55

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. It’s too time-consuming but at the same time, I can’t get out of it. How can I better handle this? — 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 coming back to scrolling and engagement, simply because social networking services (SNS) are built that way! They are rigged to keep us hooked. I find that disabling notifications for these apps is key to reducing online activity. What can also help is limiting yourself to a few apps and deleting accounts, thereby reducing the frequency of use. Limiting screen time to certain hours or hours of the day is another important strategy.

You may also need to write down why you go online – we generally tend to use apps when we’re bored or restless, sometimes to avoid tasks that trigger anxiety or to try and improve our mood. Find out what your primary trigger is and replace it with substitute behavior along with recommended strategies. For example, hobbies can easily replace screen time or simple chores that otherwise pile up can take priority, after which you can reward yourself with scrolling.

We can also start or end our day on social media, seeking validation and announcing ourselves to the world; if this is something that resonates with you, then you may need to do some introspection and examine a larger context of how life is, in general, for you. Perhaps social media is more exciting and fulfilling than our mundane lives, which begs the question: what life do you envision to bridge the gap between virtual reality and real life?