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    How and why are you connected?

    How and why are you connected?

    Is Facebook your counsellor, and is that a good thing?

    Facebook and other forms of social media are great at keeping us in touch with many more people than we could manage on a one to one basis.  We learn about the ups and downs of other peoples lives, as well as share our own.

    Such is the power of social media that many of us dare not come off it and close our accounts for fear of missing out.  What if you’re the last person to hear about an engagement, a night out, a baby, a missing pet, a friend in need of help, or even a death?

    For big announcements one could argue that it makes sense to use social media.  Tell as many people at once fits well with our hectic lifestyles and thirst for knowledge (intellectual or otherwise).  But is that how the majority of us use it, or, do we in fact dialogue our hopes, dreams, and daily realities in a monologue awaiting others approval (via likes) and comments which we hope will be about support and understanding?   

    The interesting phenomenon about Facebook and the like, is that they offer us an opportunity to control how we are perceived by others.  We each control the content of our ‘newsfeed’ meaning we can be seen as positive and happy and only sharing the good things in life, or we can share our woes and grievances.  So are we really ever our true selves when using social media?  We can pretend to be someone we are not and we can snoop around and find out about people lives who we ordinarily would have lost touch with many years ago (and in some cases, that would have been for very good reasons).

    People you are linked with on social media are referred to as ‘friends’ but is that what they really are?

    And if they are not friends in your own truest definition of the word, are you really safe and protecting yourself emotionally?

    The reason I ask these questions is this – social media is an invention of a generation that shows no signs of waning in its appeal to so many of us in the western world, and therefore, it can be concluded that social media is fulfilling a role in our lives.  A communication need, and a desire to feel connected to others, be it in actual reality or virtually.   Whilst it is great that these needs are being met, we must also be aware of how and why we are using these methods of communication, and to whom we are communicating.  There has been plenty of coverage in the broader media about online bullying etc and this is dreadful and worrying.  However, just  because one isn’t being bullied, is the use of social media still a good and healthy thing?  

    Whether you consider yourself a glass full or glass half empty person, the fact remains that by sharing your life on social media you are leaving yourself vulnerable to the reactions of others who may well judge you.   They may not say anything, but sometimes, no ‘likes’ or comments can be just as hurtful as confrontation.

    In conclusion I urge you to step back and consider how you are using social media, and what it is that you hope to gain from it.  We all want and need to feel like we belong and are liked by others.  There is nothing wrong with that.  However, we also have times in our life when we would benefit from talking to someone who doesn’t know us, or our family and friends.  Someone impartial, and without judgement, who can offer us a safe and confidential space to explore our thoughts and feelings.  Facebook is not the time or place for this, trained counsellors are.

    Mental health is something that each of us should prioritise and take an active role in.  To me, Facebook et al only seeks to provide further evidence of our need to explore and express our thoughts and feelings.  You may think that counselling is not for you, and is a sign of weakness.  It is not, and if you truly think this, then I suggest you also review your use of social media to evaluate if you use it a lot and as a surrogate counsellor, or avoid it as you don’t want to be vulnerable to others.  Either way, counselling and coaching can help us all keep our emotions healthy and happy.

    If you would like to understand more about how you might benefit, please feel free to get in touch.

    Wishing you a happy and confident day!

    Lydia x 

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