Social media has become so much more than chatrooms with BballL0vR69 and statuses that say “Brandi is **~~thinking about you ~~**” or a mundane part of our day (who remembers??)
Social media can be a fantastic space with the emergence of the creator economy, global connection, and informative campaigns. But fake news, trolls, and, well, a lot of other shit makes social media not ideal for our mental health without the right parameters.
Throw a cancer diagnosis in the mix, and there’s a whole new layer of complexity and considerations with being social online. It can be easy to fall victim to doom-scrolling, harmful comparisons, and feeling self-conscious about our online presence. Here are some tips for using social media to work for and not against your mental health.
Identify your emotions and motives around social media use.
We do everything for a reason. Whether it’s vegging out with TikTok for two hours on a Friday night, resharing that meme on Facebook, or posting that fire selfie you took in the chemo waiting room, you made a choice.
When you feel your mental health is suffering, evaluate what you’re doing and why, specifically around your screen time.
You can go from feeling on top of the world to wanting to crawl into the fetal position in a matter of seconds after (doom) scrolling.
Social media creates a rollercoaster of emotions for the cancer community: joy, hope, excitement, survivor’s guilt, shame, grief, distraction,... you name it. This wild ride repeated often enough can harm your mental health, increasing feelings of anxiety, depression, strained relationships with loved ones, and animosity towards total strangers. We may even say something out of character in the comments section or shitpost into oblivion.
Remember: you have control over how you react or respond to something you see.
“I think we have a lot of guilt and shame for those initial thoughts, and you’re actually not responsible for those initial thoughts. That first thought, that first reaction, is actually your trained thought, your trained reaction, your subconscious thought. And that’s really not your fault. But your second thought, you are responsible for. So it’s actually OK, it’s human nature, for your first thought to be like, ‘Screw that person,’ or whatever – that’s OK. But your second thought should then be like, ‘But I hope that she’s happy,’ or ‘I’m glad she’s happy.’ You’re responsible for that second thought, not the reaction. That really does free yourself of a lot of guilt and shame of, ‘Oh I shouldn’t think that.’ There’s no should. It’s OK that you think that – you’re a human being. Release yourself, but then can you find the kindness in your heart to not send a mean DM – no one wants to read your mean DM!” - @paige_previvor on @hiphop_happyhour
Creating boundaries is key to protecting your mental space (and avoiding something you’d regret).
Set social media boundaries.
People are addicted to social media. There’s no denying it. Our screen habits are doing more harm than good for our mental health, with 7 in 10 teens using over 5 hours of social media a day at a higher risk for suicide.
Social media usage affects over 40% of young adults’ sleep schedules, too. And if we know anything about sleep, it’s that it’s a MUST for our mental and physical health.
So how do we control this addiction without relying on our own will to put the phone down?