Social media can be a breeding ground for drama, creating hurt, anger, and divisive conflict in relationships. Stephen Karpman, in his drama triangle, defines three actors in drama that breed destructive communication habits.
In the simplest form:
- There are oppressors, or persecutors: “You idiots. You are to blame. I know more than you.”
- There are rescuers: “Here, let me help you. I know what’s best for you.”
- And there are victims: “Life is hard. This isn’t fair.” (complaining or venting)
The dynamics of this triangle create relationships that develop codependency (you know what’s right for me), compliance (sure, whatever you say), or resistance (get out of my face!).
When these actors in the drama show up, problems are perpetuated instead of solved.
To stay out of social media drama, consider these four tips:
Tip #1: Don’t go looking for a fight
If you’re on the prowl to prove a point or show people how wrong they are, you’re probably looking for a fight. Your brain will be focused on beliefs in posts that conflict with your own, and it will be honed in on its own bias. This is a recipe for drama. Before you get on social media, ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish? What is my intention?” Raising awareness about your intent creates conscious behavior, rather than allowing your conditioned fight or flight response to take over.
Tip #2: Filter your feed
What you focus on most will amplify. If you really want a sabbatical from social media drama, filter your feed. Use the snooze-for-30-days option, block people who stir up catabolic energy for you, or use the unfriend option. These are boundaries you have permission to create for yourself. Choose to intentionally feed your mind with positive, uplifting, and inspirational information. The same way you clear the cache on your computer, clear the cache in your mind to get rid of the bogginess of continual conflict.
Tip #3: Start a creative project
Your brain will take the path of least resistance when it’s idle, so mindless clicking and scrolling can turn into the go-to path. Engage your creative mind on something that prevents unconscious idling by focusing on a project. Accomplishing a project creates the same chemical dopamine drip that scrolling through your social media does. Your brain has an itch. Scratch it with productive output.
- Paint a room in your house
- Rearrange furniture
- Get photos organized and print out memorable albums
- Do that thing that’s been on the back of your mind for awhile
- Write music, pick up your old instrument, give lessons
- Build, craft, or bake
- Write a letter, sonnet, or article
- Start a fiction novel series (engage your creative mind with one book and have more to look forward to)
- Brainstorm a project that will be good for others
Focus your brain toward productive creation, so it’s not drawn toward drama.
Tip #4: Tame your inner demons
Each actor in the drama triangle has a “payoff” for their role. Discovering your own payoff can allow you to find healthier ways to meet your needs. A mental health professional can help with past, deep wounds, or a coach can help with present day barriers to moving forward.
Work on your own inner conflict so you’re not compelled to enmesh or project your own drama into the world around you.
Whether it’s your sister, brother, friend, or colleague, social media can take a toll on an otherwise healthy relationship. By keeping yourself healthy and behaving in constructive relationship practices, you can still enjoy connecting on social media without the drama.