Social Media Fatigue Syndrome

Are you tired?

I’m So. Darn. Tired.

All the time.

 

I know it’s hot, it’s the end of the year, I have low thyroid etc etc etc BUT the tiredness is more than that…. It’s a fatigue that’s set in and I’m finding it hard to shake….

You see the truth is I’m so very tired of Social Media!

And these days that is almost like you’re admitting you’re tired of life itself because Social Media is life, right?

When did it take over? Was it in 2007 when I joined Facebook? Was it in 2011 when I started a Facebook page for this blog? Was it in 2012 when I got my first smart phone? Was it in 2013 when I started writing daily social media content for other brands? Was it in 2016 when Instagram become a competitive sport?

I don’t really know – because it’s like a house guest that’s quietly crept in the back door and now sleeps in your own king sized bed in the master bedroom! It’s taken over!!!

And to tell you the truth I’m actually one of the more boundaried bloggers around. I can leave my phone on charge and go out the front door (ok usually by mistake but a millennial would rather amputate their right hand than do that!) I can spend entire weeks not posting to Instagram or checking my Twitter feed. (actually I hardly ever check my Twitter feed!) and I’ve never used Snapchat. So as far as Social Media addictions go mine is probably pretty mild….

I do admit to checking Facebook FAR too many times a day but that is a combination of needing to for my job and my blog as well as the fact that it’s an easy “out” when what I’m currently meant to be focussing on becomes too tough!

The truth is tho that Social Media is bad for our health – especially our mental health! And we don’t need to read the numerous articles and published papers on this topic to be able to know that it’s truth. We all know it. Deep down we all log off from our social media interactions and feel a little bit lower than before. What is that about?

Surely we should all be thrilled for the parents who are super proud of their offsprings’ latest achievement or for the old school friend who finally found happiness with the partner of her dreams or the colleague who is yet again jetting off on another adventure across the globe – except sometimes (often) we don’t!

We log off (after how many hours??) and find we’re sitting with a heaviness in our hearts – comparison being the thief of joy and all that!!

It’s been spoken of often on the pages of blogs around the world. This comparison trap! As bloggers we’re particularly susceptible to it, but we’re not the only ones. It happens to the best of us. It happens to ALL of us. It happens to me!

All this comparing is making us feel down on ourselves and down on others. We’re not thinking nice, happy thoughts about life when we log off. We’re jealous of someone else’s tropical holiday, we’re envious of someone else’s new car, we’re upset that our child didn’t get an academic certificate, we’re anxious that we’re not making Christmas magical enough for our kids by baking with them. (Me too Belinda!)

What is this all about?? When did we stop enjoying our own lives for what they were – beautifully ordinary?

When is enough, enough? When do we step back and switch off?

When do we admit that we have Social Media Fatigue Syndrome??? And when do we do something to heal ourselves of it?

I think it starts admitting that it’s not ok. Social Media Fatigue Syndrome isn’t a real thing (I don’t think it is!!) It’s a concept I came up with recently after reading up more about someone struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. But just because I’ve made up this term doesn’t make it less valid. I think it’s a very valid, real problem and we’re all sick with it!

We are ALL struggling under the strain and symptoms caused by over-exposure to social media.

It’s ruining our health. It’s ruining our friendships. It’s ruining our relationships with our partners, our children and our siblings. It’s ruining our lives!

 

The Symptoms of “Social Media Fatigue Syndrome”

Exhaustion. Weariness. Fatigue. Whichever phrase you prefer, recurring tiredness seems to be the new normal for a growing number of people, regardless of their age or background.

Causes are broad, but the increasing overuse of technology, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, can wear you out, says Dr. Patricia Bratt, a therapist and psychoanalyst.

“Social media can run the gamut from being fabulously uplifting to being totally depressing and exhausting” – Dr. Patricia Bratt

Bratt works with young adults who check their social media constantly — at all hours of the day and night — and they all complain about being tired.

“It impacts their sense of themselves and their identities and makes them anxious,” she says. “Social media has created a new sense of impulsivity and urgency, it can make them feel overwhelmed by what is happening in the world, and all of these factors can be fatiguing and can impact how they sleep.”

Constantly receiving stimuli from computers and phones is causing us to live under constant stress that disrupts sleep and our bodies circadian rhythms. And the health risks that come about due to lack of sleep? Well, there are too many to list here!

So, what is the solution, because we surely can’t go on like this!

We need to be more active in dealing with these stresses. Here are a few things I’ll be implementing in the next few weeks in order to help me better manage my social media life (because, for better or worse, it is a part of life and not one I can eliminate entirely!)

 

Tips on how to deal with Social Media Fatigue Syndrome

1.Detox.

Go cold turkey by taking an enforced break of a week or more when you don’t check your social media channels at all. Over the Christmas holidays is the best time to do this as you will be out of your normal routine anyway and will hopefully be busier than usual to check in online too often. I’ll be going away camping for a week with very little access to cell phone network or wifi which should certainly help to kick start my own social media detox! This means No Facebook, No Instagram, No Twitter, No Snapchat.

And don’t get distracted into sharing your own stuff on these channels either. No posting allowed! You need to get out there and live your real life. Having “social proof” doesn’t make your life more awesome or more interesting – actually living it does! No one needs to know about how you spent your Christmas vacay so why not retain a bit of mystery instead!

The most important thing about your holiday is that you enjoyed your time with your family and friends – and you certainly will be spending MORE time with them if you turn your phone off!

 

2. Refine.

Preferably do this before your Detox so that you don’t get sucked into doing it when you get back online and undo all the good you’ve just done!

Systematically go through all the Facebook friends you have and decide whether you need to know everything that’s going on in their lives… and if they need to know everything that’s going on in yours. If you’ve been on Facebook for the better part of 10 years you’ll have accumulated far more friends that is entirely necessary to keep up with on a daily basis. This may take a while. I certainly don’t like “culling” online friendships too readily so I started out my first turning off notifications for some of the friends I was seeing too often in my feed. Then I removed a handful of faces I no longer even remember meeting. I’d much rather see more of my REAL friends and their updates than pictures of stranger’s kids I’ve never even met!

Now do the same on Instagram. Do you need to follow SO. MANY. PEOPLE? Less is more remember – the less you follow, the more you see of the people you actually want to see!

 

3. Reduce.

There was a time when I followed almost every brand I loved on Facebook and Instagram. That time has come to an end. I no longer want to fill my feed with promo’s and post’s that aren’t relevant to my life… and I certainly don’t need endless reminders to BUY MORE STUFF. So go through the lists of brands you follow and reduce this down to 10 or less!

The same goes for Facebook groups. These exploded in the past 2 years and although they have been helpful for many reasons they’ve also clogged my feed something chronic. I seem to joined some VERY active groups too and I find I’m scrolling through so much “noise” whenever I log in that it’s sucked all the joy out of my social media time. Try to get your no of groups down to 10 or less to.

As an entrepreneur there is certainly much wisdom and advice to be gained from groups so I don’t want to eliminate all of them but at the moment I don’t seem to be gaining much from ANY of them so I’ve decided to prioritize 3 for 2018 and make it my mission to actively participate in only these 3 – starting and joining conversations that add value rather than wasting my time and flooding my feed with group chats I don’t find relevant.

 

4. Limit.

After your Detox break over the holidays ease back into Social Media Life. Turn off Push Notifications on your phone for your social media accounts. Unsubscribe from the email notifications that fill up your inbox. If you’re brave enough why not uninstall the social media apps that suck most of your time off your phone and only check in when you’re at your laptop?

Limit your social media time to once a day for 30 mins (Is that even possible??? I don’t know!) Or at least limit it to 10 mins at a time 3 x a day. The amount of time we all spend scrolling is infinite. I would hate to set a value on how much it would equate to in terms of my hourly rate!!

Going forward after your Detox don’t be afraid to unplug as needed. Even though our culture expects 24/7 connectivity, there’s nothing wrong with setting limits to maintain your wellbeing. Taking regular breaks from social media is essential. Some limits that work are turning off your phone from 8pm every evening, leaving your phone in your bag when you’re out with friends and charging your phone away from where you sleep so it’s not the last thing you do at night and the first thing you do in the morning. You may just find that you come back to social media refreshed and even a little more enthusiastic about what you find there when you pick up your phone again!

 

5. Balance. Sadly I think the joy of social media has been lost – once it was a place we would go to celebrate with others who were enjoying a great moment in their lives. We would enjoy sharing our own great moments too. The problem is that all we see now are everyone’s GREAT MOMENTS. The highlights’ reel. But it’s not just one person’s highlights’ reel… it’s everyone’s highlights’ reel.

You are seeing Susie’s new puppy, Annie’s new baby, Joe’s graduation, Bronwyn’s trip to New York, Johnny and Lauren’s engagement, Chris’s awesome friendship circle that goes away together every weekend, Julie’s academic award and Helen’s incredible home bakes – all in the same 10 mins. No wonder we all feel like such failures because we’re usually scrolling through our Instagram feed while lying on the couch eating crisps and watching a lame TV show we’ve seen before – while everyone else is doing all the awesome!!!

Remember to keep the balance right – spend more time offline than online. Visit social media when you’re feeling in a good place emotionally – it’s NOT the space to hang when you’re feeling vulnerable already!

Post your own highlights, but remember to be real and honest too with your friends. Your life isn’t perfect despite what it looks like in your Instagram feed so make sure they know that. You don’t have to post the sad stuff in your online space, but you can just let them know that life isn’t always roses when you spend time together offline.

Question yourself before posting something – do you have to share this moment with the world. Could it possibly be a private moment or memory that doesn’t need to be broadcast? What is your motivation for sharing the pic – if it’s possibly motivated by your own attention-seeking ego then maybe it isn’t the right thing to be sharing on social and you need to do some deeper soul searching about where you’re getting your validation from.

Then, finally, try your best to switch the narrative in your head when you see someone’s post that irks you…. Ask yourself what is it about the pic that’s made you feel envious/ depressed etc etc. Is there something lacking in your own life that you need to work on? Is this a person that maybe shouldn’t feature in your feed as much? Or is it YOU that needs to change your heart attitude and choose to celebrate that person’s success and show them a little love (in a genuine way!) online… and then find a way to connect with them offline too. If I’ve learnt anything about social media it’s that although it’s meant to have brought us all closer… sometimes it hasn’t… sometimes it’s pushed us further apart because we’ve relied on it too much as a way to keep in touch, or because we’ve been tainted with the comparison brush that has ruined the relationship! What I have learnt is that it’s almost always better to spend time together with people in the real world – they’re almost always nicer that way!

And, of course, we need to re-learn how to relax WITHOUT scrolling through our social feeds, because the truth is that it isn’t relaxing us!!

We aren’t supposed to be receiving and processing information 24/7. We need to stop, to set limits and to put social media back in it’s rightful place in our lives because it’s vital for our health!

I am certainly keen to change things up for 2018, starting now with a 2 week social media detox over the Festive Season – the perfect time to take a break!!

How about you!? If you’ve been struggling with severe tiredness, insomnia or even mild depression I challenge you to do the same and see how you fare after 2 weeks offline!

Tell me what you’ll be changing about your social media habits for next year in the comments below….

 

 

Save this article to Pinterest for easy future reference… and to help others to identify whether they too are suffering from Social Media Fatigue Syndrome and need to take a break!

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Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for almost 7 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

2 Comments
  1. The social media break over the holidays has been one of my goals too!
    It’s such a terrible habit to be constantly scrolling – especially when you know you have better things to do!
    Thanks for the post – it gives me extra motivation
    (And let’s ignore the irony that I firsy read this on my phone!)

  2. Thanks for this honest reflection on the impact social media is having in many of our lives. Great article.
    Have a fantastic offline break. Here’s to a more conscious and real 2018. Happy holidays 🙂

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