January 28, 2022

Developing a Healthy Relationship with Social Media—the Buddhist Way.

We were all given this thing without a manual.

Do you remember the first time you created a Myspace account? Or how about Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter?

It seems like ages ago when I first created my Myspace account and agonized over my “Top 8” friend list.

Social networking sites have been around for a while now, but it seems like we are still struggling to navigate them.

Below are five Buddhisty tips and viewpoints that may help you in developing a healthier relationship with that thing chirping by your bedside.

1. Recognize that all phenomena are nothing more than what the mind projects onto them.

In other words, things are not as they seem. We see things based on our mental projections of them—not as they truly are. We have no idea if the girl with the perfect body and pearly white teeth is actually happy. We don’t see the sacrifices someone had to make for their business to be successful, or for their physique to be on point. If we knew everything behind the scenes of someone’s perfectly crafted square grid, we would have a more holistic understanding of what we are seeing.

It seems obvious, but we continue to project glorified ideas and false beliefs onto images that have little to do with reality. We forget the people behind the images and their basic humanity. The illusions we create in our mind are dangerous because they are based on a singular reality—one where flaws don’t exist. Everyone experiences hardship, no exception.

2. Understand that nothing on social media (or in samsara) will bring lasting happiness.

Think about the dopamine rush you get from those likes. Or those comments telling you how fantastic and amazing you are. Sure, they feel great, but how long will those feelings last? Rather than constantly chasing after their high, think about activities that will sustain you a little longer, past the dopamine rush. I like to compare social media to junk food. A little is fun, but too much will make you sick.

3. Redirect the outward-seeking mind inward.

According to the Buddhist view, two things cause our suffering: craving and aversion. We are either running away from something or toward it. This is our habitual nature. Social media can easily fuel our grasping mind. The more likes and comments we receive, the more we seek to accumulate if we’re not careful.

It’s important to know when you’ve had enough. Rather than feed into the cycle of grasping and accumulating, redirect some of the outward-seeking mind inward. Meditate. Develop yourself from within. This may help you find joy in the non-seeking, restful nature of your true mind

4. Be Generous.

Spread love. Rejoice in others’ success. If we are constantly calculating and comparing what other people have to our own lack thereof, it only makes us feel worse. Be creative. Find ways to mindfully engage with your friends’ posts. Flex your altruistic muscles. Like what your friends have to say. Share it. And say nice things. As the Buddha said, “Happiness is never decreased by being shared.”

5. Have Compassion.

We all know that person who posts too often or rants all the time. Rather than getting annoyed, try having compassion. This person may not be happy and has chosen social media as their outlet.

If we can’t find compassion in our hearts, it’s okay to unfollow or mute them. We do not have to subject ourselves to their unhappiness, but we also don’t have to get upset or judge them for the way they have decided to use social media.


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