Self-Care 101: How To Set Boundaries On Social Media
Setting boundaries on social media is an important aspect of self-care. It establishes the balance between personal and professional space and saves time to do things that actually matter. Here are 5 ways you can set boundaries on social media.
A doctor receives a friend request on Facebook from a former patient. An employee thinks hard, does she want to know her co-worker on Facebook? A parent gets social media requests from their child’s teacher. What would you do in these situations?
And, so the question stands, “Are you a sharer who wants others to know what’s going on in your life?” While there are certain etiquettes, and rules which guide the norms and behaviours on social media, boundaries blur sometimes causing a lack of privacy preservation.
Conversations on the internet range from what course you have taken, whom you are partying with to what you ate today, creating a limitless space to share who you are, what are you doing, and so on. While on one hand this can be liberating, it sometimes can leave you vulnerable.
Creating boundaries on the internet helps you feel safe physically and mentally. You establish certain rules to demonstrate how you will treat others and how you want others to treat you. Creating barriers leaves lesser chances for misuse of personal data and your privacy settings keeps you away from strangers who may not have your best interest in mind.
Boundaries also help you to maintain good mental health. A research published in Frontiers of Psychiatry, 2021 finds a link between internet addiction and anxiety. The more you use internet, you stimulate dopamine (the happy hormone). Once you begin to limit your use, your body craves for happiness, actually making you sadder and depressed. Creating boundaries enables you to check your phone far less often, read lesser notifications, and feel less stressed about what others are saying on Twitter or Instagram. Also, boundary creation helps with the need to differentiate between ‘work’ and ‘personal’ life on social media. Here’s more you need to understand.
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What is a boundary?
An essential thing to do for a healthy life, boundaries help establish what behaviour you will accept from other people and what others can expect in return. In simple words, a boundary is the lines you draw for yourselves in terms of the level of comfort around others.
“Boundary includes the physical, temporal, emotional, cognitive, or relational limits that separate your entity from others,” notes JSTOR journal in Newyork-based digital library. As an example of boundary creation, we have Sue, 57, who writes for the paper Blurring Boundaries: Social Media and Boundary Maintenance at Midlife. She says “I didn’t accept [my] younger kid’s friends. I just thought it was kind of inappropriate…. I wasn’t interested in reading what they had to say on my Facebook feed, and I didn’t think they’d be interested in me either—I don’t want our relationship to be so casual that I comment on their silly things…. I think there needs to be that separation between being a parent and you know, being someone’s mom.”
Related Story: What Are Healthy Boundaries And Why Do We Need Them
What happens with no healthy boundaries on social media?
- Lacks self-care: The lack of boundaries on social media hinders self-care. “Things go beyond your power to control, in the worst case it leads to encroachment. The human being is then subject to exploitation by another person in an unlimited way, which could result in disappointed expectations of life,” notes the paper “Problematizing Boundaries of Care Responsibility in Caring Relationships.”
- Scrapes away self-esteem: Outside influences including people you do not know very well on social media can have a significant impact on your self-esteem. These outside influences can either build up your self-esteem or tear it down. “Social norms, and the importance of friends and family members’ opinions on your life, including their views on how you look, strongly influences your self-esteem,” finds Family and Consumer Sciences, 2017.
- Disallows focus on self: Lack of boundaries on social media can easily distract you from the self and rather make you the victim of interpersonal rejections, in some cases. “Interpersonal rejections such as being breaking up of a friendship, romantic relationship or ostracism by a group have immense emotional, psychological and interpersonal consequences,” finds Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 2015.
- Leads to burnout: Social network addiction, innate push to immediately respond to notifications, and lack of boundaries between professional and personal life causes a person with negative implications such as burnout, and several psychiatric disorders, including depressive symptoms, and anxiety, notes Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2014.
- Compromises safety: By not having any boundaries on social media, you could be an easy victim of phishing attacks. These are often emails or links that take you to fake websites to get your personal information. A good practice is to think twice before clicking on any news from unknown sources. Hover your mouse on the link to see if URLmatches the original link provided in the message.
- Fuels addictive behaviour: Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 2014 says that loss of control over internet, or in other terms, lack of boundary causes behavioural addictions. With no control over your impulse, you are bound to perform actions such as switching on your phone for no reason, checking irrelevant notifications every now and then and having a general lack of time control over using the internet. This chips away at your relationships and keeps your attention diverted from other important aspects of your life.
How do you set healthy boundaries on social media?
Select one specific social medium to connect with a certain segment of individuals: This simple act of categorisation helps you connect to the right people via the right channel. For instance, instead of adding your closest buddies to LinkedIn, use Facebook. Similarly, instead of “friending” your lecturer on Facebook, you could use LinkedIn.
Take time to accept connections: When a request is received from someone that is not “known,” take some time to respond. Instead of directly friending or unfriending them, you can “wait and see” on how the relationship progresses to a more substantial level where integration of you two on social spheres is comfortable.
Be mindful of your privacy settings: Almost every social media channel offers privacy settings that allow you to hide activity status, disable read receipts or show limited personal information for others. With a limit to who can access your profile, you can limit your visibility and draw some boundaries.
Start with an intention: Set an intention before you begin to use any social media app. Ask yourself what are you looking to feel, learn or know? Compare how you felt after you finished using the app. Note the experiences, take cues to adjust your app usage accordingly.
Create multiple profiles on the same platform to reinforce different social roles: Create multiple profiles within a given social media platform to maintain social boundaries. You can create separate profiles to help reinforce the different social roles you have in your daily life. By selectively connecting with others using a specific profile, you can maintain the various boundaries that segment your social spheres.
Remove or block people: Clean up your social media accounts once in a while. Look it as an opportunity to create a boundary. Delete and archive the posts you don’t want public, update any outdated information, curate the topics that interests you, unfollow people who longer mean to you and also block a few contacts whose messages, interactions or comments feel demeaning to you.
Other things you can do to establish healthy boundaries with social media
1. Take time-offs from social media. Try screen off sunday, for instance.
2. Turn your phone upside down and on silent mode when you're dealing something important with your friend/child/partner.
4. Go for healthy replacement habits such as a fitness class, e-learning, or listening to a podcast.
5. Avoid comparisons. Understand that sometimes people fake to look real on social media. Also, people show just a part of their personality in their posts.
6. Understand that you don’t need to acknowledge or react to every comment. Block and report accounts that leave offensive comments.