How Social Media Impacts Joy

I have a Meh / Hate relationship with social media. Lately, that relationship has been impacting my joy.

Detail shot of (Feeling) Joy, one of my textured fiber paintings

The Meh side…

At least once a day, I consider deleting my Facebook and my Instagram, often my LinkedIn, and occasionally my Pinterest. This isn’t actually a new thing – I’ve had this debate with myself since the day I first joined Facebook back in late 2008 (my gateway platform).

But I never do.

Part of the reason is the Meh side of the relationship. This side is a stew of Like and Love because social media helps me stay connected and in the know on the lives of extended family and friends. I’m a horrible correspondent so social media is how I stay connected and engaged. If the only resources I had were text, phone calls, or email, odds are high I’d disappear off all radar.

I enjoy seeing what others are up to. I am grateful for the opportunity to express my sympathy when something goes awry. I find humor and inspiration in the memes others share. I learn about new places and have vicarious adventures.

In addition…

As an artist, social media is a handy tool to share my creations. It allows me to broadcast these essays further afield than my subscription list.

When I create a new textured fiber painting, I can share photos in my feed to brighten the feed of my friends.

I can publish tiny excerpts of the novel I’m writing to entertain and build interest in reading the completed book.

I can “advertise” work for sale and reach a broader audience, if the algorithms are in my favor that day.

Through social media, I can participate in groups that educate and support my artistry and my business side. This is useful.

The Hate side…

But then there’s the Hate side. This is where social media impacts my joy, and maybe it impacts yours as well. I frequently feel obligated to scroll Facebook and Instagram, like if I don’t open the app and start swiping up, I’ll miss something.

It feels like something I HAVE to do or SHOULD do, rather than something I WANT to do. I grab my phone and glue my nose to the screen, even when I’m meant to be doing something else.

Having a computer in my hand doesn’t make me more productive. It makes me more distracted. And joy is found in being present.

It’s an addiction…

Social media is an addiction and all addictions prevent us from feeling true joy. In the moment, immersed in the addiction, we believe we’re experiencing joy, but we’re not. What we’re really experiencing is a simulated, flat, false imagining of what joy feels like. What we’re really doing when we scroll and scroll and scroll is escaping from reality, from connection, from ourselves.

And that’s not how I choose to live. I want the reality, connection, myself, which means I need to break the addiction.

I used to smoke, for over 20 years. Breaking that addiction was WORK but it finally happened for good and all when I was ready to quit. The same applies here.

While it may not be practical to completely dump my social media accounts – I do appreciate the Meh side after all – it can be possible to distance myself from my device so I’m no longer reliant on scrolling to escape.

And that’s what I’m choosing to do. I’m going to study when I’m glued to my phone and then take the necessary actions to break the pattern. I’m going to start putting my phone out of reach when I’m working, reading, cooking dinner, making art, watching Netflix. I’m going to take a breath before leaping up to grab the phone to scroll so I can be more intentional about my reasons for doing so.

And through it all, eventually, I’ll reduce the impact social media has on my joy. Through it all, I’ll break the addiction.

With joy and ease…

There are plenty of resources out there that talk about social media as an addiction and how it’s altering our brains (if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch the Social Dilemma on Netflix as a place to start learning).

We’ve become ridiculously dependent on our devices and that dependency is impacting our joy. That breaks my heart. Joy is our birthright, the whole purpose of our human existence. Navigating the social media hurdle is just one of the many lessons to learn as we find our way back to joy.

I’m curious…would you consider yourself addicted to social media? How do your social media habits impact your joy? Let me know in the comments.

xo


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