Virtual Depression and Relationships – – How getting back to basics can get you back out there

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Plenty of Fish, Grinder, Adult Friend Finder, Tinder, OK Cupid – – I’d have to think a bit more to name the plethora of dating and social media apps that are out there. How many of you are finding yourself tiring of them?

There’ve been past writings where I’ve shared the big picture of the effects you can incur, such as loneliness, through articles found in Psychology Today. I’ve given facts related to studies I was made aware of during my training on how time spent on the internet and social media can contribute to loneliness and depression, and how online dating also seems to have “cheapened” romance.  Social media and texting also tends to make it easy for some to hide behind—saying things with less of a filter, which can lend to misunderstandings, or being taken as hurtful towards the receiver.

There’s no doubt times of changed--at least from how it was for me growing up-- before the advent of internet and cell phones.  I was at my favorite health food restaurant last week eating my dinner, and noticed every single person in the line waiting to order food had their heads down, staring at their phones.

But, what if we could, “set the clock back”?  What if we decided to turn away from what can become too much internet and texting, and more towards being present with the people we’re with, getting to know new people we happen to be around in a health food restaurant (that are most likely like-minded), and phone calls or face time?

Maybe you feel it would be nice to get back to, “common decency” or tactfulness when having a conversation--without it becoming an argumentative stream of online comments.  Maybe you would like old-fashioned chivalry within relationships, as opposed to what many have referred to as, “endless texting” in their potential romantic relationships from someone met on a dating app.

Although some ideas dispensed here may be helpful, we’re not talking about clinical depression here.  We’re talking more about feeling down or hopeless in a situational manner-- due to how the new ways of the world may have made us feel like we want to, “crawl into a hole” without much hope of being understood.  If you feel like social media is keeping you from doing your best work, or living your best life possible, this may be a good read for you.  Tristan Harris, and ex- Google employee, stated:

If negativity is already invading your thoughts and feelings, the social comparison from others’ pictures and posts will only send you spiraling downward.

What draws you to social media?  Are you bored at your job, lonely and looking for a relationship, or looking for a way to connect to like-minded others?  Once you have your own answers, maybe you can then start to think what else you could do to reach these same goals. 

Maybe getting another job is your answer, or finding ways to grow in the one you’re in.  Maybe it’s going to the many social events our area has to offer.  It could mean joining a fun social group that meets up, or maybe volunteering for a cause you really believe in.  If you’ve then incorporated this new (old) way of living, ask yourself how life feels.

What can you do to ween yourself back into life?  I personally need to have my phone notification sounds shut off so my phone is not dinging while I’m with a client.  Another thing you could try is shutting notifications off.  It can be tempting to check your phone every time something pops up on your screen—That’s easy. 

Yet, if your phone isn’t dinging at you, you can then check them when you have free time--from the time you are trying to free up to do other things. If you have an iPhone, you can go to Settings, Facebook, then slide the Allow Notifiations button to the left to turn off notifications.  I just did. 

Do you need social media?  You could even take it further.  If you want to stay on social media, you could delete apps from your phone.  You’ll still be able to check them, if you want to.  Yet, it will be when you’re using a computer, rather than the one readily available in your purse or pocket.  You can still look for events you’d like to attend, or reply back to people. Also, apps such as QualityTime will keep count of how much time you spend on each social media site.  There’s also the choice of deactivating your accounts, either to take a break from them temporarily or permanently.

What else could you spend your time on?  One good thing to keep in mind is that every second, minute, or hour you spend on social media takes time from other productive or enjoyable things you could be adding to your life, or bringing back into your life.  Being on social media and constant texting could be taking your focus off of your goals, and hindering your life and relationships. 

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. –Annie Dillard

Don’t feel like you have to do it alone.  If your desire to be on social media/the phone feels beyond your own control, feel free to reach out.  Although some addictions are way, way worse than others, anything can be an addiction. It can be validating that you’re not alone in how technology has gotten in the way of our lives.  Some of the ideas above are suggestions to try, but if you have trouble implementing them, support always helps.  There’s no shame in seeking help for anything getting in the way of your life. 

Please reach out here if you feel you could benefit from working on your challenges. Also always feel free to share this with someone else who could benefit.