How I Learned to Save Relationships From Instagram's Harms

by Kim GreeneOctober 31, 2023
How I Learned to Save Relationships From Instagram's Harms

As a teen, I spent countless hours mindlessly scrolling Instagram. At first, it seemed harmless entertainment. But over time, I realized how it was negatively impacting my relationships. Excessive social media usage bred jealousy, fueled insecurity, encouraged escapism and drove unhealthy comparisons. 

I saw my friend’s become jealous when their girlfriends liked posts from male friends or followed attractive influencers. Something as simple as a double-tap triggered major suspicion and arguments. I saw my friends struggle to communicate openly about their feelings instead of making assumptions or trying to control their girlfriend’s interactions. 

Instagram also dragged down my self-esteem. Seeing idealized couples and filtered selfies made me obsess over flaws. I'd criticize my looks and beat myself up endlessly. I now know the importance of building each other up with genuine compliments versus feeding insecurities. I now try to help my friends see their true beauty, inside and out.

Whenever we hit relationship challenges, I used to find myself mindlessly scrolling for hours, avoiding the hard conversations. Doomscrolling became my escape of choice. But it only created more distance between us. I've learned instead to put down my phone, tune out distractions and have open, face-to-face talks during difficult times.

Finally, I'd constantly compare our relationship to ones on Instagram. It was hard not to judge our life against the non-stop highlight reels of lavish trips and perfectly-curated couples. Now I make an effort to focus on our own happiness and everything that makes our bond uniquely great. Our relationship isn't defined by the standards of others.

While social media has some benefits, I've experienced firsthand its harms. By being aware of how Instagram can breed jealousy, insecurity, escapism and unhealthy comparisons, I've learned to mitigate its effects on my relationships. My advice to other teens? Prioritize real-world connection over filtered versions of reality. Your bond will be better for it.

Here are some specific strategies I advise people to use in order to communicate openly and effectively about their feelings:

  • Set aside regular time to talk without distractions. This could be during a walk, over a relaxed meal, or just sitting together without phones.
  • Use "I feel..." statements rather than accusatory "you" language. For example, "I feel insecure when you like other girls' photos" vs "You make me feel insecure by liking other girls' photos."
  • Take turns sharing and listening. Make sure not to interrupt them when it's their turn to open up. Active listening goes a long way.
  • If I'm upset, I pause before reacting. I've learned responding in heightened emotion often escalates things, so I try to cool down first.
  • Ask clarifying questions if I'm unsure of their perspective. Sometimes miscommunication happens, so I'll say "Just to make sure I understand, are you saying...?"
  • Aim for understanding, even during disagreements. Finding common ground helps move the discussion productively.
  • Be careful about your tone and body language. Being relaxed and open sets the stage for a calm discussion.
  • Try to brainstorm solutions together rather than just venting problems. This helps us feel like a team.
  • Express appreciation when your partner shares vulnerably. You want both of you to feel safe being open and honest.

The key to success is being proactive and consistent with communication, even when it's uncomfortable. It takes work, but it's so worth it for deeper intimacy.

For more of my social media tips, check out my new book The Teenage Guide to Success at www.teenage.guru. I sincerely hope it helps teens nurture healthy, supportive relationships in the digital age.

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