With the help of technology, social media connects you to any of the almost 5 billion people around the globe who have internet access. Social media keeps you in touch with family, friends, co-workers, schoolmates and anyone who will accept your request to be “friends.” Mainstream platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram also give you a curated peek into your favorite celebrity’s life. Over 50% of the global population has at least one social media profile, and more join the online world every day without considering how to ensure their use doesn’t become excessive.
Is Social Media Actually Social?
In the past, when you joined a club or a group, you met in person with other like-minded individuals to engage in your shared interest. Being social meant you were physically interacting with others, one-to-one or in groups. Thanks to social media, joining groups, communities, clubs, and the like is a virtual experience now. Younger generations, or “digital natives,” are used to interacting in internet communities rather than real life, unlike their parents and grandparents.
Kids, teens and young adults are rarely without their smartphones. Instead of talking face to face, they are content to sit next to each other and send messages. Their online life is just as important to them as their offline life. While older generations can’t relate, they spend more of their waking hours online now than they did just five years ago.
Social Media Use – Habit or Addiction?
Is too much screen time harmful? If you find yourself losing track of time because you hopped on Facebook for a ” just a minute” but are still mindlessly scrolling hours later, your hobby may have become a bad habit. While medically, there is no known addiction to social media diagnosis, using it excessively may negatively affect your physical, mental and spiritual health.
A constant chime from notifications and updates can become overwhelming and stressful. Seeing what other people are doing stirs up envy and jealousy. Negative emotions (and too much scrolling) can affect your calm and peace, derailing your personal spiritual growth. Notifications can distract you from being present and in a positive mindset. Jumping every time your phone dings or spending hours on social media may not be an actual addiction, but it can develop into a problematic habit. And like all bad habits, you can also alter this one for the better if you choose.
How Can You Digitally Detox?
No one’s life is camera-ready perfect and comparing your life to what you’re viewing online is unrealistic. Only catching friends’ highlight reels may make you assume their lives are somehow more fun, more organized or more eventful than your own. Depression, low self-esteem and poor self-confidence are just some of the issues created by comparing yourself to other people’s social media feeds. Taking steps to lessen your reliance on your smartphone and social media is easy enough with a few helpful tips:
- Unfollow toxic people & influencers
- Eliminate unnecessary notifications
- Carefully consider what you share
- Limit your screen time
- Connect & meet-up in person with friends or family
- Be your authentic self online & in real life
Finding that your social media usage affects you mentally and spiritually indicates that balance is needed. Using the tips above can help you unplug and spend time with your family, learn something new, and focus on meditation and self-care.
Effective Use of Social Platforms
You don’t have to swear off social media use entirely. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have positive aspects when used effectively and in healthy doses. Intentional use to spread social awareness is an excellent way to educate others about mental health, autism, cancer or any social cause that’s important to you. Keeping in touch with long-distance family and friends is another favorable way to benefit from social media use.
Finding people, influencers and brands to follow that share positive messages and images that align with your lifestyle can enhance your life online and offline. Carefully curating your profile to reflect your authentic self instead of a fabricated version of yourself strengthens your self-love and confidence. Go ahead, embrace the opportunity to connect globally easily but don’t forget to unplug every so often for your wellbeing.