Dear Sean: Dont let the likes define your life

Sean E. McCormick, Staff Writer

DEAR SEAN: Every time I scroll through Facebook for 20 minutes, I start to feel like my life is meaningless. I see friends getting dozens of likes on their photos and posts, while I’m lucky to get 10 likes on a good day. I start feeling like I have nothing to offer the world and the cycle repeats. I don’t want to delete my Facebook because I like being in “the know,” but I hate the feeling of inferiority that keeps gnawing at my heart. Any advice? ­­SCROLLING TO SADNESS

DEAR SCROLLING TO SADNESS: There is a growing body of research that suggests Facebook (and other social media) can heighten feelings of depression, loneliness, and jealousy. There is also research that indicates people who use Facebook for the purpose of catching up with friends or to make plans can experience heightened moods and long-term satisfaction. Start by determining what is meaningful to you. Facebook can be a tool to connect with old friends, plan a trip, or find an upcoming concert to attend, but it can also lead people to unhealthy comparisons and unrealistic expectations. Before logging on, have clear intentions and a time limit for completing your Facebook goals.

DEAR SEAN: I used to tell my friends not to drink at Starbucks because they are an evil corporation that only cares for profits. Now that I am in college, I am broke. I have begun looking for jobs, and of all the places I applied, Starbucks was the only one that scheduled an interview with me! I don’t want to look like a hypocrite, but I really need a job. Do you think I should go in for an interview? ­­CONFLICTED ON CAMPUS

DEAR CONFLICTED ON CAMPUS: There comes a point in your maturation where concerning yourself with the viewpoints of others can be dangerous. If you do not take this interview, you will have to continue looking for work, accrue debt, or seek government assistance. This is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what it means to be an adult. As you can see, it is not always a matter of good and evil, but rather one of necessity and compromise. Your education can be a powerful tool to implement your ideals into reality, and it would be foolish to deny yourself a proper chance at independence because you don’t want to look like a “hypocrite.”

DEAR SEAN: I left school two years ago when I became ineligible for student loans after my grades slipped. I was only one semester from graduating! Even though I work in a field that I enjoy, my boss told me I need a Master’s Degree to eventually move up to a management position. I don’t want to go back to school because I feel like they screwed me over, but I don’t want to be stuck in this position for the rest of my life. Help! ­­STUCK IN SYRACUSE

DEAR STUCK IN SYRACUSE: It appears you have conflicting sentiments. You want to grow in your company, but you do not want to meet the criteria to do so. Surrendering your pride and re­entering school feels like a step backward to you, but in the larger scope, you would actually be taking two steps forward. After obtaining your Master’s Degree, you can potentially take on the management position you desire, and you will have the credentials to work for a variety of employers (or yourself). You should assess what will be more difficult for you: working a job that you feel does not match your potential, or spending a few months in college to obtain the necessary certification to leap these social hurdles.

DEAR SEAN: I have extreme social anxiety. Even when I am ordering food, I feel like the cashier thinks I am a bumbling idiot. I rarely talk to girls. In fact, I usually avoid talking because my palms start to sweat, my heart begins pounding, and I cannot form coherent sentences. It makes me not want to go outside. What should I do? ­­ANXIOUS IN AMHERST

DEAR ANXIOUS IN AMHERST: The anxiety triggers that you are experiencing (sweaty palms, increased heartbeat, disabled vocalization) may lead you to avoiding social interactions. What if you used those triggers to propel you into social interactions? When you begin to feel your heartbeat increasing or your palms sweating, initiate a conversation with someone nearby. It could be as simple as asking for the time. Those triggers are your body’s mechanism to inform you of the borders of your comfort zone. The more you allow your body’s triggers to guide you toward positive social interactions rather than isolation, the easier those interactions will gradually become. Holding eye contact for a bit longer or smiling at the person who is sitting next to you will get you into the habit of socializing with others, and will allow you to step beyond the borders of your comfort zone.

Send questions to Sean via Twitter @seanemccormick or [email protected]