Life on line
How often do you post pictures on Instagram ? How often do you use text messages on Whatsapp? On Viber? In the morning when you open your eyes, do you first say good morning to your family or do you take your phone in your hands? You don't need to give the answers to me, but you definitely owe them to yourself. The question is:-what force is pulling us to post our pictures and expose ourselves to the world?
Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLE school of Medicine, did a research to show how social media is actually physically rewiring our brains. There are seven signals that our brains receieve as information while we are communicating face to face with another person. We have eye contact with that person, we detect their facial expression, tone of voice,posture, gestures, timing and intensity of communication. Now its easy to conclude what texting, emailing and social media is lacking. The right hemisphere of the brain is the part that senses these 7 types of non-verbal information in our interactions. The right hemisphere is connected with lower regions in our brain that controls our body and creates our emotions. What happens, is that by using text messaging, we use more verbal ways to communicate for which we need the left hemisphere of our brain. The left hemisphere is more about logistics and it gets us further away from our emotions.
Other research concerning the use of social media, shows that it activates the hormone dopamine in our brain. The same hormone that activates when we smoke, drink or gamble. That is the reason why it feels so good when we get a text message or when we get likes on Instgram. So if it feels so good, what can be bad about that?
Everything that we use excessively is not good for us. Spending too much time on social networks can be as harmful as when we eat or drink too much. The New York Times reported last year that users of Facebook are now spending almost 50 minutes a day online. Think about Instagram that has 300 million active daily users, or Twitter with 6000 posts per second.
I changed my behaviour pattern on social media last summer, when I didn't post for almost two months on my Instagram profile. Why? Because I asked myself the question from the first paragraph. Why was I posting before? Was it because I was bored? Was it because I was narcissistic? Lonely? Nosey? I guess a bit of everything. And like everything else in life, when we become conscious of something, it's like a seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. It is very important to ask yourself why you use social media.
The same question can be applied to many different areas in your life. When I work with my clients and when we talk about relationship issues, the first question I always ask is why are you with this person. Usually people get confused about this question. The answers can be diverse-because we love each other, or because we have kids together, or because we have financial projects together, or because we have great sex, or because I am afraid to be alone...Reasons are important in order to understand ourselves and the life we are living better.
So going back to the social media, once you give yourself an honest answer, it will be much easier to take the time you are spending online-into your own hands. When I made it clear to myself that I will use my social networks mainly for business purposes, everything made so much more sense. If you are using social media mainly to be connected with your friends-that's OK. If you are using social media to share the great places you are visiting- that's OK too. If you are using social media to show the great clothes that you bought- great! If you are using social media to meet girls-good for you! The only important thing is the amount of time you spend online. There is nothing wrong with social media, as long as it doesn't replace your time for face to face communication.
As you might have noticed, my blogs are here to give you some practical advice on how to deal with certain situations. And the best way to organise your "Online life" is to take care of your time as you take care of your body. We are careful about what we eat, we plan our fitness routine, so we need to do the same with planning the time that we'll spend online. After all, we all want to live, love, learn, earn,enjoy and finally- to be connected with each other.
Set rules for yourself about when and how long you will use social media. Do not use it while you are face to face with friends. When you are at the dinner or at a party (yes, it is OK to take pictures, just don't stare at your phone for half of the night!).
On a daily basis, if you use let's say Instagram, retreat from Facebook or Twitter for example. What I use and what I recommend is the so called "low information diet". On the weekends, spend time with your family and friends instead of checking Facebook and Instagram. You will see that it will become your most precious time of all. And Yes ! I don't really use Instagram Story , Facebook Story..... There are so many amazing things around me every day in my life, that by posting them I would just waist precious time. After all we are the masters of our time and we should manage it wisely!