THE EFFECTS OF OVERUSING SOCIAL MEDIA AND HOW WE CAN SAVE OURSELVES FROM THEM
If we are constantly checking notifications and newsfeeds on our phone; every morning and before bed, multiple times throughout the day; if we validate our self-worth from the number of likes we receive and by how many people follow us on Instagram or Facebook, there is a possibility that you may be addicted to social media. In such a case, we may feel lonely when we don't check social media. We may get bored easily with our day-to-day routine and feel uncomfortable the moment we put down our smartphone.
A number of studies have found associations between increased social media use and depression, anxiety, sleep problems, eating concerns, and suicide risk. It is now generally accepted that people who use social media too much have poor mental health.
Listed below are some of the ways social media can negatively affect us if we are not careful:
1. Comparing our life with others
When we overuse social media, we begin to compare our lives to others and then feel extremely sad about it. We feel inadequate, seeing what is happening in other people's life and their achievements. But what we forget is that grass always appears to be greener on the other side. Instead of being thankful for the things we have, we keep complaining and forget the things that we already have.
Social media sometimes looks like a paradise. People only share only the wonderful parts of their life on social media; nobody talks about their fears, their insecurities or their bad times. Don't you think, we are doing injustice to our minds by only comparing our lives with only the so-called good parts of somebody else's life ? For instance, we see how couples post photos to show that they are in love but we don't know how many times they have cried, fallen apart or given up on each other. Every couple has good and bad times together.
2. Social isolation
There is a statistical relationship between the use of social media and social isolation. Specially, when teenagers see the pictures or video of a party where they were not invited, it can bring anxiety. It is known as “fear of missing out” or FOMO. They are engulfed by self-doubt and distance themselves from others because of these doubts, and remain isolated.
3. Poor concentration
Social media terribly affects concentration. While doing even simple tasks such as class or work related assignment, we need a high level of concentration, but now people have a habit of simultaneously using social media.
There is a strong urge to check the phone every now and then, in the name of multi-tasking. This interruption has an adverse effect on attention and reduces learning and performance, and also increases the time taken to complete a task.
4. Decreased physical and creative activity
People who heavily use social media do not spend enough time on activities that increase mental abilities, skills, and physical movement.
Activities like dancing, swimming, jogging etc. are ignored for social media. This leads to lethargy, sadness and may even cause depression.
5. Body shaming
When we see models, actresses, and bloggers on social media in the ‘picture perfect’, we begin to compare our body, skin, and clothes with them. We develop a certain sense of insecurity. But what we forget is that a single picture of theirs’, goes 10 layers of makeup + a million editing apps, many hours in the gym, skipping of their soul food and a lot more, which they follow consistently.
On-screen and off-screen are two different worlds. We must aspire to be fit, however never impose artificial standards of beauty on ourselves or others.
6. Unrealistic expectations
Social media sets unrealistic expectations about friendships, relationships and life in our minds, which severely affects our mental health.
For example, if we see some of our friends, having fancy birthdays or vacations, it is natural to want the same from our lives. However, we may not be able to afford it at that point in time. We need to understand that it’s ok and we can work to create the life of our dreams and take it as a challenge.
1. Never, ever check social media just after waking up or just before going to sleep, it stays in our mind throughout the day or night and affects us very severely.
2. Not to be over-active on social media and/or scroll mindlessly, without a purpose
3. Download apps to control/block social media after using for restricted hours every day.
If we can save two hours from social media per day, we will have an extra fourteen hours per week which are totally free to do whatever we want with –
an internship, or a part-time job with all our newly freed up time. When we get off social media, we actually realize that we have much more mental space and time to do things in the real world.
4. Going for social media detox every now and then, it rejuvenates us and trains our mind to not to be dependent on social media for gratification.
5. There’s no need to let the world know everything that we do, it is very unsafe and also boring. We cut down on real fun and connection with people.
6.Meet people in real life. There are so many ways and so many places where we can meet people in real life. We could be a part of a book club, attend a talk, or organize a get-together where all attendees bring a friend, or embark on a single's night.
Whatever activity we select, we'll be making connections with new people in reality, which totally beats stalking an ex on Facebook, obsessing over celeb's Instagram feeds, or trying to take the perfect selfie.
We all binge on different media. But just like “Riverdale” isn’t real life, neither is Facebook or Instagram. Social media is our own personal show. Everyone is telling a particular story — one they also happen to produce, direct, write and star in. As we are scrolling through posts and pictures, let us remind ourselves —
It is not real life.
Let’s think: When was the last time we went a full day without checking our social media accounts? The world is like our oyster, so let’s not get trapped in a virtual world. Let’s get out from behind our screen and enjoy life's pleasures!
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