- Sky Wampler
Processing Trauma in the Age of Social Media
We are honored to share this guest blog post by the lovely Sky Wampler on social media, healing and powerful solutions we can all learn from. Please comment below and let us know your thoughts!
Everyone has their own trauma. I know that in our society we don’t always slow down to think about it, but everyone around you —from the young to the old— will one day experience a traumatic situation. So frequently when something difficult happens to us we tell ourselves, “I mean sure it was hard, but just look at this other person that has it so much worse than me!” Of course, we should always be considerate of others’ experiences, but we also have to grant ourselves the kindness of allowing our trauma to matter and be just as relevant as others’.
If there is something that you went through that affects you years later or makes it difficult to move about your normal day, no matter what it is, you deserve the peace and space to heal from it.
When we spend too much time looking at lives other than our own, we can lose track of the kindness and healing we owe ourselves. In the era of social media, it can be difficult not to compare yourself to someone else. We see fitness advertisements and follow health gurus on Instagram (and in my case National Geographic writers) and we hold ourselves to this unrealistic standard of appearing to be more well-put-together than we really are. We put up a front.
I just don’t think this has to be the case. I mean, what was social media created for anyway? Perhaps, if we’re a little more intentional about our social media usage, it can be used as a tool to process trauma, not add to it. Here are some suggestions for ways I’ve used social media to process my own trauma in my daily life:
1) I follow inspirational people: I used to only follow people that I knew, I’ve since expanded my horizons. I follow people that inspire me. I follow other women and artists that are supportive in what they post. If I find someone with a story like mine, I develop a kind of distant kinship with them — one that makes me feel more capable of healing in my own life.
2) I created a “Finsta”: I know this suggestion may appear to be a little odd, but hear me out. A “Finsta” account is this trend going around on Instagram (though it can really be any social media platform) where you keep your account on the highest privacy settings and only allow people that you’re genuinely friends with to follow you. This serves several purposes:
>>Allows you artistic freedom to post whatever you like without worrying about what others think (because your besties won’t judge you for posting a morning selfie with sleepy eyes and bedhead)
>>Allows your friends to stay updated with what’s going on in your life. Midterms? Check. New recipes? Check. New poetry? Check.
>>Allows you the space to dish about things that matter to you. You’re not going to go posting about the horrible (or completely uneventful) day you had on your regular social media accounts, things like that are personal! So post about them on your Finsta, and let your friends support you through it.
>>It’s like a diary. Journaling is very, very good for your mental health and a finsta is essentially a journal. Post what you want, make it as beautiful (or not) as you choose, with photos or poetry or other art! Express yourself! Become vulnerable to those that care for you!
MY FINSTA FEED:
MY PUBLIC FEED:
3) I deactivated my old accounts and made new, public ones: This may not be for everyone, there’s a good chance you’re emotionally connected to your social media accounts, this is okay! You don’t need to delete them. But if you’re looking for something new —a way to deal with the stressors and trauma in your life that make you feel like you’re stuck in a rut— creating a new, fresh page to share your story on may actually help you out.
Social media doesn’t always have to be a bad thing that tears us down, we can use it to connect with the people that we love and process our emotions in new and helpful ways. Don’t look at social media like it’s an obligation, it should be something fun that makes you feel more free.
Share your story! Be vulnerable and caring to those around you and don’t compare yourself to others! Social media platforms can be freeing and if you truly want a new way to process yourself, sometimes disconnecting or connecting in new ways can make you see your own life in a new and more caring light.