The seduction of the scroll

Nurturing

 

The positive and negative impacts of social media on our relationships and self-image


Life Advice
Sadhbh Dunne

With social media becoming increasingly ingrained in our daily lives, it has both positive and negative implications for us. It is an excellent means of communicating with those around the world or people who we don’t see on a daily basis, but there is also a risk that it can reduce the intimacy in some of our real-life relationships.
Let’s take a look at the ways in which social media can affect relationships, both in a good and bad way.
Social media allows for constant communication, which is particularly useful for couples who may not live together. They can easily share memes, news stories and funny videos that they know their other half would appreciate. They can also video call and send voice messages, adding another layer of connection.
One of the most often-cited benefits of social media is that it gives regular people access to expert information from a range of different industries and topics. The doctors, accountants and academics sharing free information on their Instagram or TikTok profiles is an invaluable asset that benefits everyone. What a novelty it is to have this up-to-date and accurate information only a few clicks away?
And of course, many people meet their significant other through social media. A few years ago you might have been ‘poked’ but now someone ‘sliding into your DMs’ may bring about a new relationship. The way in which social media has transformed our lives is unbelievable, but it is useful to have an understanding of the not-so positive aspects also.
Have you ever found yourself comparing your relationship with someone else’s online one? ‘They’re always on holiday, they’re always buying each other gifts’, etc. Be conscious that posts on social media platforms are referred to as a ‘highlights reel’ for a reason – everyone wants to show off their best and happiest ‘picture perfect’ moments. This can come from a desire to look like you are living a truly wonderful life, but maybe you also want to protect people from your struggles or sadness.
Influencers sometimes say that they like to use their social media pages as a positive space and so keep their hardships close to their chest. There is no right or wrong answer here, the important thing is to recognise and understand this if you find yourself feeling dismayed looking at someone’s Instagram. I know for sure that my feed would look a whole lot different if I shared the lows of the past year. Would yours?
Social media gives us a dopamine rush, and an obsession with it may cause our daily life to seem far less interesting. If the image of sitting side-by-side with your partner, with your heads both looking down at your phone is familiar, it might be useful to make an effort to pencil in some quality time without the devices. This type of social-media-use management is crucial so that important parts of your life are not neglected. Create boundaries with your partner. Do either of you have a problem with the other using their phone over dinner, for example? Consider turning off your social media notifications, in this way you can decide to view an app at a time that suits you.
If you’re really committed to making a change, try a social-media detox and see if you miss it, and if so, what you miss about it.
It is essential to remember that you need to have the foundations in place and secure before anything external will give you happiness. Showing off your car, clothes, partner or job will not give you authentic contentment unless you know and are satisfied with yourself at a deeper level.
I’ll be trying to remember this the next time someone’s post stops me mid-scroll.

Sadhbh Dunne is a qualified life coach based in Westport. She is the founder of Ember Coaching (embercoaching.ie) and can be reached at sadhbh@embercoaching.ie.