Scrolling on your socials, do you find yourself keeping tabs on people who you don't like?
The advent of social media has made it infinitely easier to keep in touch with what's going on with those around us. But this also means that it's tempting to fall down a rabbithole looking at words and images and stories. And while you're scrolling on your socials, this means that you mind find yourself keeping tabs on people who you don't like. At first this might feel like an accident, just a moment of curiosity. But the act of keeping tabs on people who you don't like can become more of a habit, and can even develop into an addiction. I spoke to Vox all about this topic for a podcast (only available to download in the USA, I believe) but you can click here to read the full written article. Read on to hear what I had to say.
Keeping tabs on people who we don't like: why is it so difficult to curb this behaviour?
It’s easy to hide. Think about other addictive behaviours, perhaps smoking, drinking alcohol, compulsive shopping. There’s often witnesses or some kind of evidence trail, which might make us feel more accountable to other people. Online behaviours are much easier to do in private, without fear of being caught out or questioned. This makes it easier for us to literally be left to our own devices, and fall down a rabbit hole.
We (almost) always have access to our devices, and we’re using them all day long. So even if we set ourselves boundaries about how and when we are going to use them, it’s so simple to pick up your phone to check your diary and send an email. From there, it’s all too easy to slide onto social media.
The online world gives us access to aspects of people’s lives that simply wouldn’t been in the public domain before the existence of social media. And perhaps it’s not really natural for us to have so much information easily at our fingertips about each other’s lives. We give ourselves other reasons, or perhaps excuses, to be using social media. Maybe it’s useful for work or for local news. So that makes it hard for you to go ‘cold turkey’ and delete the apps that are so addictive.
Addictive behaviour is often a way that we develop to meet an ‘unmet need’. Perhaps you’re feeling lonely or bored. It’s easy to develop a habit of scrolling online in an attempt to tackle the loneliness or the boredom. And then once we’re there, social media contains inbuilt features that keep us on the hook. The endless scroll, the notifications, the instant gratification of a ‘like’ or a ‘follow’.
Keeping tabs on people who we don't like: Tips for trying to quit the obsession
Try to unpick what’s driving this behaviour. What is it that you’re hoping to find? And what feelings are lying beneath. Perhaps it’s jealousy, anger, loneliness or boredom. Ask yourself honestly - will scrolling on your socials help you to tackle these feelings? Are you looking for validation of your own actions or life choices? And are you better off spending time and energy focusing on yourself and why you feel this way.
Keep track of your feelings ‘in the moment’. How do you feel before you pick up your phone to spend time scrolling on your socials and keeping tabs on people who you don't like? How do you feel afterwards? You’re likely to find that this behaviour doesn’t necessarily solve anything, and might in fact leave you feeling worse.
Set boundaries on social media. Set time limits for yourself. Consider deleting apps or unfollowing certain accounts. And notice the barriers that you put in the way of these boundaries! Perhaps you don’t want to put boundaries in place, because you feel that you need social media for other purposes. Ask yourself if this is really true - or if you’re perhaps able to get the information that you need elsewhere.
Keen to explore more?
I love working with people to help them to understand themselves.