Social networking – twitter, facebook, blogs etc. are a phenomenon that allow people to connect, relatively anonymously, to friends and strangers. While this new way of communicating can be valuable in remaining in contact with friends, and building new relationships, it can also lead to a state of ‘immersion’ and addiction. The individual, comfortable in the relative anonymity of the social networking arena, can get lost in it. Addicted to the highs of making new contacts and finding a new ‘confidence’ in expressing feelings or thoughts, in the safety of a ‘virtual’ relationship, the individual may avoid real intimacy and meaning with those who are closest to them. The individual might become immersed in social networking because it offers an audience who can affirm and make him or her feel acknowledged and valued. Social networking sites allow people to invent new identities for themselves. Someone who is shy can hide their lack of confidence behind a new more confident persona. The individual can become dependent on the highs that the affirmation social networks offer and moods may rise and fall in accordance to what’s going on on Facebook or Twitter. Overuse or immersion in the social networking world can lead to a sense of alienation, emptiness and shallowness and a loss of connection to the real relationships with family and friends. When the individual is distracted by the ‘twitter feed’ or facebook status, he or she is not fully present for him or herself, or those around them. Tweeting or updating a social networking site is often a compulsion – something funny happens in the street and rather than enjoy that moment, be present in that moment, the pre-occupation is to Tweet that moment. This puts a distance between the individual and the event and stops the individual from connecting to the event and experiencing it – this is what leads to a loss of connection to the self. Losing connection to your own reality can lead to real difficulty, including depression and anxiety.
If you are struggling with social networking addiction or a lack of connection to those closest to you, psychotherapy and counselling can help. By talking your difficulties through with a psychotherapist or counsellor, you will experience relief, clarity and find a healthy way forward. The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice offers psychotherapy and counselling in Central London. The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice is at 121 Harley Street, Central London.