Social media has slowly crept more and more into our lives over the past decade. When I was in school, sharing photos from parties on Facebook and having awkward 'conversations' with that girl you liked on Messenger was more or less the extent of social media's role in my life.
Nowadays, you cannot go into any social setting without noticing that almost everyone has their face buried in a phone screen.
I'm not just writing this today to give you some BS 'Top 5 Tips to Reduce Your Screen Time' article. No, I'm going much further than that. Today I am making the case that a social media addiction may have some seriously dark implications for your life.
I'm not here to be Mr. Preachy-Preach. In fact, this email was inspired by my own struggles with moderating social media use.
Maybe this sounds familiar to you:
I went to sleep last night with a lost of 5 things I intended on getting done before noon. The day got off to a bad start - I missed my alarm and woke up at 9:30 instead of 8:30.
I went onto Instagram to check my messages.
Checking messages turned into browsing stories.
Before I knew it, it was 11:30 and I was mindlessly browsing through 15 second long videos of drunk people falling off roofs and dogs twerking.
Two entire hours of my life had just disappeared, and I had nothing to show for it aside from feelings of guilt and embarrassment. What's worse: this is not the first time this has happened to me.
Are You Addicted?
Let's imagine I really like alcohol.
Now imagine you find out the following about me:
I spend 2 - 2.5 hours every day drinking, which amounts to 2 - 3 days per month.
I check on my alcohol every 12 minutes, or 80 times per day
Upon hearing this, I think any rational person would assert that I have a problem and that I'm an alcoholic.
Interestingly, these are actually some of the most recent statistics about the average person's social media/phone usage.
Now, spending a couple of hours per day on something isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, most of my training sessions end up taking 90 minutes. However, training nourishes my body and mind. Does social media do the same?
The answer as you may have guessed is a big fat no. Social media has now been strongly correlated with depression, self-harm, and even suicide.
Why? Answers are by no means clear but I think there are some strong theories. These apps come with the guise of 'connecting' us to people. But ask yourself: how many of your 'Facebook friends' are you actually friends with? How many of them do you actually see in real life? This fake sense of community leads to increased loneliness.
Additionally, we end up comparing our lives to others, which is particularly an issue for young women.
On top of this, it is quite literally destroying our attention spans. Just look at what the most popular video content on Instagram is: 10 - 15 second long videos of mind-numbing crap. Most of us don't even read books anymore because of how much mental effort it takes.
A Call To Action
This is quite a simple problem to solve. Ask yourself, "Is social media having a negative effect on my life?". If the answer is yes, then you need to take affirmative action to rectify this.
Much like alcoholism, some people need to accept that they cannot control themselves and must go teetotaller, and some might be fine to just create habits of moderation (i.e. keeping yourself to a max of 3 drinks).
Personally, I would consider deleting all of my social media if not for the necessity of keeping an online presence for my coaching services. Perhaps one day even this won't be enough to keep me engaged in social media. Until then, I'll try to provide some contrast to the instant-gratification slush that gets peddled on every newsfeed.