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Alone This Valentine’s? You’ll be even lonelier if you engage with the biggest swindler — Social Media.

by Wei Ying  February 12, 2022

Are you the only pea in the pod this Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day is like a curse for all singles. Every year, singles get reminded of how lonely it is being the only pea in the pod. This romance-laced holiday drives the feeling of loneliness to a whole new level.

What is something supposedly more “comforting” than comfort food that we self-destructive beings seek? Social media. Believe it or not, people turn to social media more when feeling lonely.

The tendency to use social media is higher when one is lonely

“Internet-related technologies are perfect at giving us the perception of connectedness.”

This claim by a Stanford University psychiatrist could not be more correct. Boosted egos are results when our friends deliver birthday dedications on social media platforms. Furthermore, when our posts receive several comments, we seemingly feel like we have made it. Unfortunately, mindlessly scrolling through social media does more harm than good for alleviating feelings of loneliness.

Here is why you feel even lonelier than before you started the doomed scroll,

“My friends all lead glamourous lives, unlike me.”

While you are tucked in bed this Valentine’s and scrolling through your Instagram feed, you see Stacey’s stories and posts. Your heart immediately sinks as you take in pictures of the romantic dinner that her boyfriend had prepared for her. At that moment, you wanted that dinner, you wanted that life, and you despised yours.

Social comparison tends to manifest many negative emotions

What is happening here is — social comparison, where we compare and feel like we are not experiencing the lives of others as portrayed in their posts. Even the most confident of our peers fall prey to such feelings of jealousy. Just because they did not tell you does not mean that these feelings are absent.

Naturally, the feeling of deprivation of the lives we could be living, self-judgment, low self-esteem, and a negative sense of self would follow. However, in our obsession with what is lacking in our lives, we fail to consider what we do have. We fail to appreciate the things and people that we have around us.

So, enough with the comparison! Instead of focusing on the negatives, it is high time to shower ourselves with a little more love this Valentine’s, paired up or not, because we deserve it. After all, social media is not the bad guy. With the correct habits, you can still use social media healthily –

#1: What you see isn’t necessarily all true

In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey shared a well-known story about an incident on a subway.

“I was riding a subway on Sunday morning in New York. People were sitting quietly, reading papers, or resting with eyes closed. It was a peaceful scene. Then a man and his children entered the subway car. The man sat next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to his children, who were yelling, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers.

I couldn’t believe he could be so insensitive. Eventually, with what I felt was unusual patience, I turned and said, “Sir, your children are disturbing people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”

The man lifted his gaze as if he saw the situation for the first time. “Oh, you’re right,” he said softly, “I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”

Suddenly, I saw things differently. And because I saw differently, I felt differently. I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn’t have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behaviour. My heart filled with compassion. “Your wife just died? Oh, I’m so sorry. Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?” Everything changed in an instant.”

What Stephen Covey aims to convey is that many of us tend to take things we see on the surface and jump to conclusions. Being constantly surrounded by people does not mean one is not lonely. There could be so much more that lies beneath a forced jubilant smile. The “3 Gates” method by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can help us build a healthy online community.

Before you comment on a post, ask yourself these questions,

Gate 1 — “Is it true?”

Gate 2 — “Is it necessary?”

Gate 3 — “ Is it kind?”

#2: Loneliness will not be creeping when one is productive.

When you are productive, the likelihood of loneliness creeping is lower

#3: Do things IRL (in real life)

If you have noticed social media is meddling with your mood, you should take a break away from it for a few days or even consider deleting the apps from your phone so that you will not be able to access them easily.

Meet up instead of texting your friends

Instead, reconnect with friends and family physically! As bizarre as it sounds (referring to you Gen Zs), speaking and spending time with your loved ones over text and mindless scrolling on social media could be the remedy to your loneliness.

#4: Start your day intentionally

Research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that exposing one to negative things could contribute to negative subconscious thoughts. It puts you at risk of forming unhealthy judgments and opinions. Thus, instead of scrolling through social media once you wake up, and risk coming across negative content, which might affect the rest of the day, start your day with these instead —

Start your day on a positive note

Starting your day with some stretching, meditation, or positive affirmations would help you cultivate a healthier and more positive mindset that you can carry with you throughout your day.

#5: Keep your social media circle small

This might seem counter-intuitive as many use social media to reach out to a wide range of audiences. However, as you grow older, you will lose touch with some people along the way, which is perfectly normal!

If you are worried about too many “friends” viewing your posts, it is time to minimise the reach. Tap on Instagram’s close friends’ list, where you can include a couple of your BFFs in them and post without any stress.

Do not let social media get the better of your emotions

The Tinder Swindler might have gotten the better of several unlucky ladies, but you are now equipped with these tips to combat loneliness spurred by social media. So, there is really no reason for you to get swindled by social media!

Although you might feel lonely this Valentine’s, try to remember that this feeling is only temporary. After all, you are the only master of your emotions. No one can control them, and certainly not social media.

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