You might agree with me when I say that the internet is one of the world’s greatest innovations. More than ever, the world is connected. The internet opened up a sea of opportunities and possibilities and the phrase ‘the sky is the limit’ has never been truer.
And at the center of the internet lies social media. In fact, it is reported that of the 4.4 billion internet users, 3.499 actively use the internet for social media.
A little research on google got me this astonishing figure
The average social media user spends 2 hours 16 minutes a day on social platforms
These statistics just shows how the internet and social platforms are now a huge part of our lives. Through social media we get in contact with people who inspire us to be more, to achieve more. We rekindle old friendships, we form new ones. We gain insight to other cultures, expanding our perceptions and views on life. Social media has changed life as we used to know it.
But in as much as social media has been advantageous, we cannot deny that is has negatively affected many lives as well.
So today I want to share about how social media could be negatively affecting your life, and what you can about it.
3 ways social media could be negatively affecting you
1. Mental health issues (depression, low self-esteem, self-image issues etc)
Social media is the genesis for mental health issues for a lot of people.
Studies have shown that excessive use of social platforms is associated with mental health issues.
From perfectly filtered pictures to fun videos of their lives, social media allows us to see just how good life is treating other people. We see these people who have ‘perfect bodies’, perfect relationships, and these people who are always going on holidays abroad.
Sooner or later, conscious or subconsciously we start comparing ourselves to them. We start feeling inferior, feeling lacking, and we develop a discontentment with our lives.
A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen found that people who were not on Facebook felt more satisfied with their lives than regular Facebook users.
So there is no denying it that social platforms has the capacity to cause a variety of mental health issues for its users if they are not careful.
2. Affects offline relationships
I find it funny how these days people rarely live in the moment but always claim that they do. Think about it for a second… how often are you on your phone even if you are with someone physically next to you?
We are a funny bunch.
Whilst we are with person X, we check our phones to see what person Y is up.
Social media has made it hard to really pay attention to people who we are physically with. Two people could be hanging out and each of them is on their phones! How can these two people bond and grow closer in their relationship/friendship?
So you see, social media can sometimes affect your health of your offline relationships by taking your time and attention from the people who actually care enough to want to spend time with you.
3. Can fuel unhealthy choices
Just the other day I was scrolling down my phone, checking on social media when I came across a news article with the title:
It was a story about an Australian 27 year old woman who followed her brother for a holiday in the state (a holiday she couldn’t afford mind you) just so she could take pictures to post and impress her followers on Instagram.
Few years back there was also a young girl who had been in as much debt which she racked up by buying expensive clothes just so that she could become an Instagram model.
These are just some examples of how social media can sometimes fuel unhealthy choices in our lives.
What you can do to deal with these negative effects
Going through the three points above, if you feel like somehow social media is negatively affecting your life I would like to share with you three things that you can do to deal with this.
1. Treat yourself to social media breaks
The truth is people rarely share their struggle on social media which makes it hard for people struggling in their lives because they start feeling like they are all alone whilst the rest of the world is having it easy.
So if social media is making you feel lonely, making you feel discontented with your life, I suggest that you treat yourself to a social media fast/break. Uninstall social media apps from your phone for a month and see what that will do to your overall mental health.
Your mental health should be a priority as well, so treat yourself to a breathing break. Give yourself a break from constant comparisons and time to fall back in love with yourself and your life.
2. Unfollow certain accounts
You are not supposed to follow all accounts on your social platform of choice. If you notice that certain accounts, by virtue of their content seem to affect you, I say unfollow them.
Not only do you have the right, but you also have the responsibility of protecting yourself from the toxicity of internet usage.
It’s no crime to unfollow pages/accounts that are helping build you up. It’s actually an act of kindness to yourself.
3. Switch off data for some time
If you feel like your social media usage is affecting your offline relationship, I have a simple suggestion for you: become intentional about spending quality time with loved one.
Next time they come over, or you go visit, switch off your data and be wholly present, giving them your whole attention and time. Even if you are tempted to, try and restrain yourself from checking your phone. Trust me, the world will not stop spinning just because you went offline for a day.
Am I saying social media is bad and that we shouldn’t use it? Absolutely, not. What am saying is we need to find balance in our use of social platforms so that it becomes something that builds us up as individuals and not something that tears us down.
So much Love.