Social Animals

Many of us are thankful for how technology allows us to keep connecting to friends and other loved ones. But, realistically, we are social animals, not social media animals!


These are strange times and we are all having to adjust so quickly to so many uncertainties and shifts in our normal worlds. One of the biggest shifts is how we connect to people. Many of us are thankful for how technology allows us to keep connecting to friends and other loved ones. But, realistically, we are social animals. Teenagers have learned the hard way how much contact in real life matters. Many of us crave a hug or even a hand slap from someone beyond our front door.


A large number of my clients bring social media into their sessions and how it plays into their loneliness or sense of self.

Some people would probably say they aren't lonely - they're loners - and I can relate. I love being alone, it is quiet and peaceful amidst the noise and bustle of life. Yet, people seem pulled to each other. Even most solitary types seek out some companionship. What struck me the most when I first starting counselling was how lonely so many people are. Cliched and cheesy as it is, you can't help but get "Eleanor Rigby" into your head - so true. So many people are also surrounded by friends and family and still feel isolated and completely apart from it all. Not surprisingly but, perhaps underestimated, is the role social media plays in all of this. Now more than ever, social media is helping and hindering our emotional well-being.


A large number of my clients bring social media into their sessions and how it plays into their loneliness or sense of self. For some, social media helps. As the name suggests, it allows people to connect and feel less alone. Certainly, as an expat, I'm grateful for it. I can stay connected to my friends and Dad back in the States. For many, though, they see other people's rose-tinted lives portrayed on social media sites as truth rather than just a careful scrapbook of best moments. This 'truth' makes them see their own lives as even lonelier and it deepens their sadness or even suffering. Thus, I cannot help but have questions about the article below. I have seen how sites can impact how people feel and feel about themselves. Their suffering is real, even if the manipulation they were subjected to portrayed skewed reality. On the other hand, I listened to a podcast on studies like this via social media and was interested in how much data can be drawn quickly from so many participants. What would have been years of work for researchers in the past now takes mere days.


Facebook Tinkers With Users’ Emotions in News Feed Experiment, Stirring Outcry http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/technology/facebook-tinkers-with-users-emotions-in-news-feed-experiment-stirring-outcry.html?_r=0

For those of you struggling right now – isolated by choice or otherwise – please reach out, if you can, to some sort of support. It could be friends, family, or a counsellor. I’d love to hear from you. You can find a list below of free and affordable support here if you are in crisis:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

Accredited Member of BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)

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