Mindful Social Media Use

Social media can be a hinderance or an aid to personal growth.

Posted Nov 20, 2018

Photo by Alexi Berry
Source: Photo by Alexi Berry

Over six years ago, the focus of one of my blog posts was the effect of social media on mental health (Facebook: Demon or Savior). Recently, in listening to a podcast the topic again became relevant, and this post will revisit the phenomenon of social media and its effects. 

In a search of periodicals for titles related to social media and its effects, the vast majority focused on detrimental effects to well-being (Brooks, S., (2015), achievement (Ali Aljabry, A. M., et.al., 2017), family life (ÜNAL, S. 2018), and social life (Ali Aljabry, A. M., et.al., 2017). Some focused on how to harness the power of social media and technology to improve social awareness (Doo-Hun Choi & Dong-Hee Shin, 2017) and disaster responsiveness (Houston, J. B., et. al., 2015).

In the podcast, “You’re Not So Smart: The Friendship Cure”, journalist Kate Leaver is interviewed regarding what she believes to be a growing issue, loneliness. She had recently written the book, “The Friendship Cure: A Manifesto for Reconnecting in the Modern World”. When discussing how to combat loneliness, she reports her “single most effective way of making new friends” (18:29) when she moved to a new city was checking people out on Twitter and then direct messaging them and asking them to meet for coffee. She then suggests using technology intelligently. Despite the host saying there are “many things about social media that are soul poison” (18:53), and Ms. Leaver agreeing there are “noxious” (19:21) aspects, she goes on to posit positives of social media, especially “if you’re an introvert, socially anxious, if you have any mental health issues, if you live with a disability, if you have Autism” (19:27-19:34). 

I wrote a lot of what Ms. Leaver said six years ago in my post. It is good to see it remains true and relevant, and that someone is advocating the positive aspects of social media. There is no doubting the drawbacks; they are well documented. But, as with many things, the way you use it determines the benefit or cost. In referencing studies, Ms. Leaver reports it is the passive use of social media that is the most detrimental, and that using it consciously, putting beautiful and positive things as your posts, and actually using it to connect with others more actively are utilizing the positives of social media. Additionally, I have advocated following the many people posting positive memes and inspirational quotes aimed at self-betterment. As an advocate of personal growth throughout the lifespan, I encourage clients (and now readers) to follow people on social media that will remind them of their goals

Finally, and in line with the vast majority of my posts, mindfulness is the key. Many use social media in a passive, time passing fashion. They are unaware of their thoughts, or passively accepting the social comparisons many are vulnerable to make. This mindset leads to negative outcomes. When social media is used mindfully, however, it can fill your page and the pages of others with uplifting messages, can lead to connection and comradery, can combat loneliness, and raise spirits. 

Copyright William Berry, 2018

References

Ali Aljabry, A. M., Ahmed Jaafari, A. A., Mohammed Salawi, M. A., Taher Majrabi, F. A., Ahmed Hazzazi, N. M., Khormi, A. H. A., Musa Alqahtani, S. A. (2017). Effect of Social Media Network on Social Relations and Academic Achievement Among Medical Students. Egyptian Journal of Hospital Medicine, 69(7), 2910–2917. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.fiu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=126631840&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Brooks, S., (2015)., Does personal social media usage affect efficiency and well-being?, Computers in Human Behavior, 46, 26-37. Retrieved from https://www-sciencedirect-com.ezproxy.fiu.edu/science/article/pii/S0747563215000096?via%3Dihub

Doo-Hun Choi & Dong-Hee Shin (2017) A dialectic perspective on the interactive relationship between social media and civic participation: the moderating role of social capital, Information, Communication & Society, 20:2, 151-166, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2016.1154586 

Houston, J. B., Hawthorne, J., Perreault, M. F., Park, E. H., Goldstein Hode, M., Halliwell, M. R., Griffith, S. A. (2015). Social media and disasters: a functional framework for social media use in disaster planning, response, and research. Disasters, 39(1), 1–22. https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1111/disa.12092

McRaney, D. (2018)., You’re not so Smart podcast, episode 139: The Friendship Cure., Retrieved from: https://soundcloud.com/youarenotsosmart/139-the-friendship-cure

Ünal, S. (2018). The Effect of Social Media Use to the Time Spent with Family Members. International Journal of Eurasia Social Sciences / Uluslararasi Avrasya Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, 9(31), 550–578. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.fiu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=129236793&site=ehost-live&scope=site

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