When you pick up your phone in the morning to check the time, how often do you do just that?
It is far too easy to get sucked into the social media portal.
Let’s not knock it entirely. Social media can be an incredibly useful tool. It can bridge people from across the globe and give them a platform to creatively share their experiences. Different social media sites can also help strengthen our connections with others and even more, learn more about the world around us.
Despite its many benefits, there are instances when social media use can become unhealthy. With the presence of technology, social media has also become a source for white noise, distractions, or worse — able to do more harm than good when it comes to our wellbeing.
This can be especially problematic for people who become too dependent on the technology, including those whose entire careers are built around social media.
The post-secondary industry’s outlook for communications professionals highlights the rapid growth in content creation and digital media, which means that tuning out is a luxury that not everyone can afford.
But what exactly are social media’s adverse effects, and how do you know when to draw the line?
Fear Of Missing Out
Brands have capitalized on the FOMO phenomenon to stir the pot and attract potential customers using this herd mentality. However, what it also does is cause people to make toxic comparisons between other people’s lives and their own, taking a severe toll on their life satisfaction and general mood.
Look at you, sitting at home, scrolling through your feed. Look at everyone else, doing cartwheels on the beach.
Sound familiar? Flip it for some JOMO (joy of missing out). Read this.
Negative Body Image
In the past, it was mainly fashion magazines that were notorious for upholding unrealistic beauty standards through brand advertising and advertorials. Today, many brands are taking advantage of social media to sell an unattainable “ideal” body image.
This systematic review from Flinders University reveals that photo-based activities, like going through Instagram or posting pictures of yourself, cause harmful effects on body image.
(Let’s pause and note that studies are being done on this matter.)
The body comparison side effect can have horrific outcomes, such as eating disorders and self-objectification. Some users have since taken a stand with the Body Positivity Movement, but we still have a long way to go.
Sound familiar? Ponder this, then find a trusted expert you can trust to talk to.
Even if social media users intend to go online for a quick moment, it’s common to go overboard… without even realizing it. Before you know it, it’s 2 AM, and you’re still aimlessly scrolling through your feed. Researchers from Texas A&M University found a negative link between social media use and sleep.
This sedentary form of entertainment can alter one’s sleep rhythm, leading to poor quality of sleep. Sleep deficiency consequences are far-reaching. It’s known to affect cognitive functioning, mood, metabolism, and more.
It is also known to make you hella grumpy.
Sound familiar? Set yourself a daily reminder on your phone to TURN.IT.OFF. Then open the door to the outside world and take in the deepest of breaths.
Shorter Attention Spans
How often this week did you have the intention to do something before promptly forgetting what that very something was?
We are starting to have the attention of goldfish.
With the convenience of smartphones, it’s become routine to scroll online and consume content wherever you are. Staying away from social media becomes an exercise in willpower against distractions, especially with the temptation of easy-access entertainment.
Psychology Today even warns against the numbing effects of information overload, especially when it comes to negative news and violent imagery. Not only does it shorten our attention span, but it also makes people desensitized, moving on to the next “high” of a dramatic news flash and immediately forgetting the last one.
Sound familiar? Mindfulness. We adore it, and once you make it an ongoing personal practice, you can train your brain to tune in and choose more of what fuels you, for good. Try this.