It’s tough being a young person. Some people would argue that it always has been difficult to be a teenager or a young adult. I would argue that it seems to have gotten quite a bit harder. For instance 20 years ago, people weren’t connected to devices almost continuously. Most people see that this is a good thing, and it is in lots and lots of ways. But, there are downsides. It’s harder to disconnect from social pressures, people can contact you all of the time, and your online self is almost as big, maybe even bigger and more important than your actual self. Some people manage these challenges really
well, but like everything in life, sometimes this is harder to manage.
Do you ever find yourself struggling to know who your real self is?
It’s very tempting to put pictures of your idealised self out there. Everyone knows that you only use the photos where you look awesome for FB pics right? However, sometimes if you are looking at your pics, and they all seem to be terrible, and your mates all look stunning, skinny, buff, hot, interesting, and popular it’s easy to feel really rubbish about yourself. Although, I am willing to bet that your friends are doing exactly the same thing as you.
There is a really cool exercise from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which is called the 80th Birthday card. The idea is that you imagine it’s your 80th birthday and people are sending you cards and gifts. What would you like the cards to say? Would you want them to say that you are really hot and popular on FB (hint: at 80 generally neither of these things will be true – esp. about FB. It will be about as popular as blacksmithing is right now). Instead would you rather that people would feel that you are genuine, interesting, engaged, caring and loving? Perhaps the answer to this might be a direction to who you are, rather than the way you portray yourself to the social media world.
It’s ok to have a social media self. We all have them. And we have lots of selves. Like, our school self, work self, house self, parent self, friends self. And some of these will be the same, but maybe some will be quite different. It’s just another aspect to balance of yourself. The problems come when the social media takes over you, and you are feeling completely at a loss as to how to manage it. Some people might suggest that you just delete your account and disconnect. You can do that. But then you get to miss all the good things that social media brings, like relationships with your friends, interesting events and silly games that eat up hours of your life (self-confessed Pet Rescue addict).
Perhaps instead it’s about balance, and making sure that your social media self isn’t taking over everything. If you do feel like that’s happening, you can get support by talking with your friends, parents or even a counsellor. Often talking to someone else gives you more ideas about what to do, then letting things go around in your head, as it’s really hard to see an answer when you are stuck in the middle of a problem.
How do you keep your social media self under control?