August 7, 2020

6 Boundaries to Try with Social Media (Before you Decide to Breakup with It).

Imagine for a moment that social media isn’t a departure or escape from real life, but a part of it. 

Imagine only being connected to people you actually like and want to be connected to. Imagine being uplifted, inspired, and encouraged every single day while being in a true relationship with people.

Imagine sharing ideas, thoughts, and beliefs and feeling safe doing that. Imagine mutual respect; imagine reciprocity; imagine important information getting out quickly; imagine help, love, and support at your fingertips; imagine ripples of kindness.

This is the best of social media, and it can be your reality—every day.

Love/Love relationships: That’s the standard we’re going to set because we’re worthy of that.

The other day I accepted a friend request from a woman who had a lot of friends in common with me. I don’t usually accept requests from people I don’t know or haven’t heard of, but if I do, I check out their page and make sure they seem like kind people. Within a day, she messaged me to ask me if I wanted to book a session with her.

I didn’t know her at all; she didn’t know me or care to get to know me. She quickly messaged me all of her business info and asked me to share it with my friends. Really icky feeling, right?

She had requested me only to get something from me, and it didn’t feel good, so I decided not to stay connected. I clicked unfriend and felt clear about the decision.

I don’t have any interest in being connected to people who don’t have any interest in nurturing real relationships—period.

Boundaries are vital. Imagine opening your front door and someone walking right in and pitching themselves to you. If you wouldn’t tolerate that in real life, why tiptoe around it and accept it online?

I know it might be a less common approach for some, but I treat social media like I treat real life because every day, no matter what I’m doing, I’m living my real life. I wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and pitch myself to them without even saying hi or building a relationship.

Social media is not a speed networking event, and I can’t let it become that; that creates a space that I want to avoid. When you go to a networking event, that’s a choice, and at the end of the event, you get to come home! If you feel like you need a vacation from social media, it’s a sign you’re tolerating a lot online that you wouldn’t in person.

When I moved my business online, I knew that in order to enjoy being online, I had to make sure that any relationships I had on there were authentic. I wanted to protect my online space as much as I would in my own home. Over the years, I’ve parted ways with people I didn’t feel happy to be connected with.

I let go of going through the motions, editing myself, and doing things because I felt obligated. The birth of my son really helped me with those boundaries. I began to understand them as a form of self-care and started to prioritize putting soul into social media.

Here are some of the big things that come up for people around their love/hate relationship with social media, and some tips to help shift them if they come up for you:

1. Social media feels fake. 

Are you connected to people you feel safe being yourself around? How real are you being? Are you editing yourself? All of this matters—deeply. If you don’t feel comfortable being your true self, maybe you need to have a look at your list of friends and see why.

As you look at everyone’s name, notice how you feel in your body. Write down a list of everyone you’re editing yourself for, anyone you want to hide from, or anyone who just doesn’t make you feel good. Sometimes it may be a matter of rooting into your courage and trusting that the people you are connected to will support you and cheer you on.

Other times it’s a matter of discernment and choosing to disconnect with people you wouldn’t want to be friends with in real life. This can feel hard, especially if they’re friends with others you know, but discernment is protection. That knowing you have inside, that intuition you’re feeling, it’s wisdom. Trust it.

 2. Social media triggers me. 

This is huge for people! I actually have a few people who follow, unfollow, and re-follow me constantly. It’s funny because I never notice when they unfollow me, but I get a notification when they re-follow me. I don’t take it personally.

If I’m triggering someone, that’s okay; it’s not my issue to work through. But if I’m the one being triggered, there’s some good insight there for me. If I can lean into the why behind it, I can learn a lot.

I’ll speak to my own triggers: Sometimes I’m triggered because I’m jealous; usually, it’s because someone has or does something that I am longing for in my own life. The trigger really has nothing to do with them; it has to do with how I’m saying no to my own dreams and desires. 

This kind of trigger is gold. Shift from jealousy to celebration, knowing that everyone around you reflects your own potential back to you. Lift them up. Tell them you’re happy for them, and if you can’t genuinely be happy for them, disconnect. If I’m triggered because someone is posting harmful content or complaining a lot, that’s different, and I usually choose to disconnect.

I don’t have the time, space, or energy to fill my space with things like that. Your social media accounts are a part of your space, just as much as your living room is. Protect it. Invite people in that you want to share space with. You have the right to direct people to the exit; you don’t have to be connected to everyone!

 3. Social media is draining. 

What we want, of course, is for it to be energizing. Some of this has to do with discernment around who you choose to be connected to. An inauthentic connection is exhausting. Some of it has to do with how often you’re online. If you wouldn’t want to spend all day every day in your living room, don’t spend all day every day online.

You need some outdoor time, some kitchen time, some bath time, some quiet time. Most of us are over-connected, and it’s creating an imbalance in our lives. Forget your phone more often. Leave it in the other room when you go to bed at night. It doesn’t matter if you work online; people can wait.

You don’t have to be available all of the time. You teach people what to expect based on how you respond to them. If you’re there the instant they have a question, they begin to expect that from you. You don’t have to be at anyone’s beck and call. I promise you. They will be okay if you rest. They might even learn to answer things for themselves. Google is fantastic, and time to reflect is valuable too.

 4. Social media is overwhelming. 

I was thinking about this the other day. My mind brought me back to my days of going to school. We can’t learn if we’re trying to consume everything. I couldn’t go to more than one class at a time and process all of the information. Choose your teachers wisely; choose the pages and accounts you follow mindfully and actually take action on what you’re learning. 

Consume consciously and with intention. It’s easy to start to feel like you have to do all the things and follow all the accounts, but you don’t. 

It’s okay. You’re not behind. You can keep things simple and joyful. You have the power to do this. You get to choose.

 5. Social media is disheartening. 

Sometimes it really is. A lot is going on in the world, and there’s a lot of heartbreak. It’s important to be aware of what’s going on, but it’s also okay not to over-consume it. When something breaks your heart, let it break open and ask yourself what you can do about it.

Maybe you can share and help educate other people about what’s happening; maybe you can donate; maybe you can be a voice or an advocate for someone who needs some uplifting in this world; maybe you can take a stand and rise to be a part of the solution. 

You can’t stand for everything, but every one of us can stand for something. Let your heart lead you and look for ways to help. Things are most disheartening when we feel we have no power or ability to create change. If you’re not sure how to help, then, like Mr. Rogers’ mom used to say to him, “Look for the helpers.”

There are so many positive and empowering ways to get involved on social media. Taking some form of action helps shift the energy and encourage you and others in so many ways.

6. Social media is work. 

If you do business online, the struggle is real. Boundaries are important. My clients know that if they need me, they have to email me. I don’t do business through DMs. I save those for conversations with old and new friends. Just because I might be online at 11 p.m. doesn’t mean I need to respond to a business request.

Remember, we teach people what to expect and how to treat us. Just because you have free time, doesn’t mean you’re available! Your life; your time; your rules. 

You reply when you choose. Create boundaries between work and life on social media, or you will always feel like you’re working. You might adore your job, but after a while, it can be absolutely exhausting to feel like you need to be on all the time.

The positive potential of social media is immeasurable, especially when used with authenticity and conscious intention. Like any other space in our lives, we can make our online space joyful and energizing. Boundaries with social media are a form of self-care.

When social media begins to feel like a love/hate relationship, let’s consider what specifically weighs it down for us. Let’s make the changes we need to make because we deserve love/love relationships all the way!

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