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Wired up and riled up to be antsy and all?

Social media has wired us up and we are increasingly doped by it. The why and how do we handle it are examined here…

Are we hard-wired to be sensitive or overly sensitive to comments? No, not the passing verbal comments. Those in comment sections of Instagram, Facebook and other Social Media or messages in messaging apps the likes of WhatsApp.

Do we have the compulsion to check your smartphones constantly, starting from the instant we open our eyes in the morning? This nomophobia (no-mobile-phobia) is not triggered by keeping up the news and trends on social media but driven by being antsy of what others are saying of US!

Have social media and smartphones that changed the landscape of social interaction got us increasingly narcissistic? Are we boxed in by our pre-occupation in must-know whether we have been liked/disliked or the number of likes we have got, or the hate/unfavourable comments?

Ninety-nine likes could put us on Cloud9. But one unfavourable comment like how can you post such a picture could drive one apeshit-crazy. Such swings in two extremes can’t be easily fathomed but they’re real. This is what social media with its easy access via the smartphone (the shrunken supercomputer that was once the size of corporate boardrooms) has turned us into!

A casual factor, as pointed out by MakeUseOf Journalist Ben Stegner, is Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), the anxiety of being left out of the latest trend. But, I believe, what explains the obsession better is the dopamine factor.

Studies have shown that notification from social media and messaging apps activate dopamine release in our brains. The hormone makes us feel good and happy and arouses and motivates us. So we work hard to post on Instagram or Facebook posts or forward and share what we receive on messaging apps for the dopamine rewards. And we keep on checking after that for the responses.

The stimulation from the feel-good neurotransmitter has led somewhat to a new form of addiction which we need to learn how to handle.

I believe there is always a positive side to things. It will serve us well in our quest for dopamine rewards to be responsible in our postings. The rule of thumb here is fact check, post and share what is true, not fake; and even go through the safe-test to determine firstly whether it is safe, not hurtful and harmful to ourselves and others.

We need to learn to be responsible with positive acceptance of comments, even negative ones. Take them as a source to improve ourselves like do not unto others… As we’re inclined to judge, we too should expect and accept judgement by others on social media.

In trawling the Internet, I found this article - 7 Tips to Help You Waste Less Time on Social Media – which has pointers on how to better handle social media.

While they are suggestions on how can we can reduce our presence on social media to have a happier life, they are good tips that advocates middle-of-the-road approach to comment-obsession and social media/smart phone-addiction. Some of the tips are shared here:

Take A Day Off from Social Media

Taking a break from social media helps to keep you from becoming dependent. Guess what? You might even find that it’s easier to sleep if you spend less time on-screen.

Develop Alternative Hobbies

It is common that are daily routine is more virtual than real. Instead of scrolling social media, eyeball books and stir up the imagination by visualising the scenes as they unfold in the narrative.

Track Your Time Spent on Social Media

Download an app and track the total time you spent on social media. This way, you can take control of time instead of letting social media controlling your time.

Ignore Likes and Follows

We get excited at the thought of someone’s like or follows, then slowly, it becomes an addiction that takes over us. Be it positive or negative comments, it may take control and even influence or impact our moods and behaviour.

If you feel the comments are true, take them as an opportunity to improve ourselves; if you feel the comments have no basis, do you allow them to affect you negatively? Yes, stick and stones can break our bones… Remember, what can we control and care for? We ourselves, our feelings and well-being!

So… Do comments matter in social media?

There’s no definitive Yes or No. It all depends on how we want to take it. Social media isn’t where we submit ourselves to judge and jury. We shouldn’t evaluate ourselves based on likes, dislikes and comments.

Social media should not be a source for self-doubt or lower our self-confidence and self-esteem. It is a platform for greater things, among which is to self-improve ourselves. The possibilities are many.

Any comments? (Note: I penned this article as a learning process to wean myself of attachment to comments. So be warned, I may not necessarily take kindly to unfavourable comments!)


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