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  • Cognitive Distortions Reinforced Through Social Media


    Social media has had an influence on the public consciousness since the early 2000s. People have lost jobs, elections have been influenced, and moods are impacted on a daily basis because of what users have posted online. You may feel as though you’re doing nothing right according to the self-esteem saboteur that is social media.  Studies tell us that the mirage of happiness created through online platforms isn’t reality, but rather leads to people feeling a greater sense of social isolation, compare and despair patterns, and increased insecurities.

    Media Mindfulness

    Mindless scrolling is the new American pastime. Social media can be a useful outlet for nostalgic fulfillment, event planning, and receiving life updates from family and friends. However, it can also be a major time drain that leads to a rabbit hole of thought rumination and excessive worrying. Replacing mindlessness with mindfulness can be an effective antidote to avoiding triggers to anxiety and depression and to remain grounded in the here-and-now. Taking the time to utilize your senses and be non-judgmentally attuned to your thoughts after you put your phone down is a helpful reminder that you’re in the present moment and not lost in the comparison to other’s ideal digital selves.

    Don’t Should On Yourself

    Clickbait headlines and sensationalized ranking articles have fostered a false sense of urgency in online readers. 15 things you should be doing to improve your _________________. 10 things you must know in order to _________________. Enticing headlines and attention grabbing news has been around since the advancement of the printing press, but our ease of access to these news sources is easier than ever and, at times, hard to avoid. These articles prey upon our internal yearning for quick solutions. These beliefs are irrational because they maintain the illusion that something should, ought, or must be different, insinuating that what we’re currently doing is not good enough. Within this online context, this creates a dichotomy of ‘if I’m not already doing these things, everyone else must be, and therefore I am failing.’ Be weary of headlines containing the word should and notice how these affect your emotional state.

    Burst The Bubble

    It has become increasingly difficult to locate the middle ground. Digital media reinforces a belief of a black-and-white world: our politics are polarized, our online profiles must be perfect or completely discarded, and our aggregated news is based on algorithms that show us everything we want to see and none of what we don’t. This highlights the common cognitive distortion of all-or-nothing thinking. Concrete, or black-and-white thinking, doesn’t honor the complexity of the human experience and sets us up for either/or predicaments. In order to disrupt this pattern, find the gray in your online activity.

    Cognitive-behavioral therapy asserts that irrational beliefs about the world around us cause negative emotional states of being. This distorted reality is magnified when combing over curated online posts designed to purport perfection. When lost in the scrolling abyss, recognition of these common cognitive distortions at play can help to relieve stress.