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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Boundaries and Social Media

“When the morning comes and when we see what we’ve become, in the cold light of day, we’re a flame in the wind, not the fire that we’d begun. With all that has happened, I think that we both know the way that this story ends. Then only for a minute, I want to change my mind, ’cause this just don’t feel right to me. I want to see you smile but know that means I’ll have to leave. Lately, I’ve been thinking: I want you to be happier” – Lyrics from “Happier” by Marshmello ft. Bastille.

Boundaries, as defined by Google, are lines that mark the limits of an area. Boundaries are healthy, helpful necessities, if not requirements, in our daily interactions with one another—stranger, friend, colleague, family and the like. When we cross a boundary, whether it’s our own or someone else’s, it often brings up a very uncomfortable feeling. You’ll know when you’ve crossed a boundary when everything hits the fan and implodes.

One boundary that I know I tend to struggle with is making myself available to help a friend with their life’s issues. I have an often knee jerk reaction to want to overstep my own boundaries that keep me safe and healthy by providing my public email address or giving out my phone number to someone who may be struggling, either online or off. This could be a boundary violation if this person tells me something that I may not be equipped to handle safely on my own (think: suicidal intention). I may inadvertently be opening myself up to a whole world of trouble if I can’t properly compartmentalize my own issues versus someone else’s, which would then put a spotlight on my own urges which could have been avoided with a simple but difficult ‘no’ or knowing my own limits and what I can and cannot do (I’m not a mental health professional after all).

One way I can approach this particular example is if I place a limit to begin with that I’m not a professional, I can only offer support as a peer and that I can’t be reached from the hours of 9 p.m.–8 a.m.

The intention of boundaries is to keep each party safe. Burnout, job loss and spite can certainly form if boundaries are crossed repeatedly over time or even just an unlucky once.

Social media in particular produces an even more difficult prospect of handling boundaries and doing what’s right versus what *feels* right at the time. If you wouldn’t friend your professor on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t friend your therapist either.

The latter is especially hard to handle because issues of confidentiality arises and social media is a giant square of gray where it’s uncertain as to whether things should be a certain way versus not. Even if it’s a person you once worked with in the past, it’s tricky to tell what is appropriate versus what is inappropriate. Additionally, dual relationships are frowned upon. A dual relationship is if you knew your therapist from your weekly sessions but were also a student of theirs in your core class. It’s likened to having two contradicting roles with one person where neither or both of you will not be able to separate one role from the other and things just get really, really messy.

Essentially, don’t take it personally if your therapist doesn’t friend you back or respond to your messages online because the legalities and ethics of the situation haven’t been clearly mapped out yet—as far as I know!

When I was friends with Luna we didn’t really establish any clear boundaries, not that I can recall at least. This led to a lot of boundary crossing on my part, a lot of feelings and eventually an unhealthy relationship that I’ve been able to leave behind (even with urges to re-engage), avoid completely and unfollow from all social medias whether they were indirectly or directly hosted by Luna.

But if I’m being honest with myself, I have to account for the fact that on and off for the last four years I’ve Googled, found social media accounts and knew more things than I should have about Steve. He was technically my therapist four years ago and although he’s across the country now (something I shouldn’t know) I recently found his Twitter and I really, *really* wanted to message him even while being highly aware that it would be inappropriate, unethical and very uncomfortable for both parties mutually. Instead, I’ve run a few pros and cons lists in my head, wrote this article and in all actuality it would be really weird if I did contact him because so much has changed—I’m not the same person now as I was then and there’s no real need for me to reopen old wounds. I also don’t feel comfortable breaking his confidentiality for the sake of too many emotions on my part.