When it comes to messaging, put your self (care) first

Through the ups and downs of the past year, many of us stayed connected with the people we care about online. But human relationships – both online and in the real world – are complex. And while technology has given us some incredible new tools to communicate, it’s important to know exactly how to use these tools to build better, healthier relationships, while prioritizing  your self-care.

In light of this, Messenger has partnered with expert psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos to empower you to set healthy boundaries, take control of your online messaging space, and have more meaningful interactions in your chats and DMs.

To help people make the most of their conversations, Messenger has collaborated with Dr. Papadopoulos to create a decision tree tool which guides people to the right feature that allows them to take control of their unique situation.

PROTECT YOUR BOUNDARIES 

“The great thing about platforms like Messenger is they allow us to pre-emptively think about pressure points in our relationships – about setting boundaries,” Dr. Papadopoulos explains. “Having tools like Messenger can help make those difficult conversations easier because we have tools to help us to navigate tricky online interactions. We all have a social toolbox that we develop from a very young age, but now we also have this whole new technological toolbox we can leverage as well.”

Messenger offers a host of features that put you in control and enable you to create a trusted space online. One where you can safely build and protect relationships – as well as set those all-important boundaries when you need to. 

“When it comes to setting boundaries, the earlier, the better,” Dr. Papadopoulos says. “Everyone is entitled to set boundaries and to ask for them to be respected.” In a fast-paced online world where notifications can pile up, Dr. Papadopoulos says this is especially important.

Try switching-off your ‘last active’ status on Messenger to alleviate any pressure or expectations for you to respond immediately or change your delivery controls to decide who goes to your Message Request folder and who can’t message you at all. 

“If you’re added to a group chat, for example, think of it like getting a new roommate. Lay some ground rules early on – like how often you will be able to participate in the chat, or the kind of topics you are comfortable discussing with the group.”

Messenger makes it easy to see who is in a group chat or change the name to make it clear what the chat is for. You can also mute a conversation – meaning you won’t be notified when you receive new messages – or move a conversation to your archives.

STAY IN CONTROL

Sometimes, people can overstep our boundaries online – whether they mean to or not. To spot the warning signs, Dr. Papadopoulos says: “It might sound basic, but check your own temperature – how am I feeling? Am I feeling anxious? Am I noticing my feelings change? If you feel a bit worse about yourself every time you speak to a certain person – or if even thinking about speaking to that person makes you feel anxious – that’s a huge red flag.”

 If you do need to take action to reaffirm those boundaries, you can:

 ENJOY THE CONVERSATIONS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY

Finally, Dr. Papadopoulos reminds us to nurture relationships that lead to more meaningful, more enjoyable, online experiences.

“To have more meaningful interactions, think about how you define meaningful,” she says, “What is emotionally nourishing for you? Sometimes, even the most mundane little interactions can be good for the soul. During the pandemic, I enjoyed video calling my Mum so we could cook together virtually. So, get creative with how you connect with the people you care about online.”

Click here to download the decision tree. If you want to find out more about Facebook’s privacy features, check out the Privacy and Safety Hub.

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