Look around when you’re in public, what do you see? An entire society that is busy staring at their touch screen. You look away, not wanting to interrupt them. They’re probably interacting on social media, which has their attention, but deep inside they’re empty, lonely, and secluded. You go up to say hi, and they change their sad face to one of happiness; you may have just made their day.
I used to be one of these people, who stared at my phone. Precious time wasted, scrolling through my lifeless news feed. I would think up new and wild ideas for a fresh status update that might get more than 10 likes. In the end, it meant nothing, but more than that, it was making me isolated and lonely.
The truth is, social media can be a valuable tool. People can share valuable information, content, and updates instantly from anywhere around the world. How often is it used this way? Almost never.
Social media has become a place of narcissism. A temple where people worship themselves and their life. A popularity contest where some don’t stand a chance.
Here are the top 4 reasons to cut down on your social media use.
1. Loneliness and Seclusion
Scrolling through a social media news feed, what can one expect to see? A bunch of photos, status updates and tweets. Most of these are from people that we don’t know or haven’t stayed in contact with. Perhaps a girl that you used to talk to is posting a selfie with her new “boo.” Maybe a guy you once knew is getting married or having a kid.
Seeing this, we begin to compare our own happiness to these posts that happen on a day by day basis. It can make our own lives feel inadequate in comparison, like something is missing. It feels as though everyone else is out having fun. So the next time you’re alone, close the social media app on your phone, and do something productive, like writing a poem.
2. A False Reality
So what about all of these happy posts on social media? Is everyone else really that happy? Guaranteed, everyone is not as happy as they are showing themselves to be. We have all seen the beautiful girl who posts constant selfies of herself. Is there ever anyone in the picture with her? Or is she all alone most of the time?
Social media allows us to create a false persona and reality. We choose what others see carefully. The minute something negative is shared, it is not given much attention. Somebody that hardly knows us, or has never met us at all, doesn’t want to see a random person sharing actual emotion and pain. They want see something exciting or happy, even if it isn’t really how we feel.
Everyone is essentially encouraged to over exaggerate the truth, or nitpick the absolute best parts of their day to show. This isn’t right. This isn’t real. It’s just one big ploy for attention.
After all of this, the question can be asked, why is social media as popular as it is? The answer is simple, we are all addicted to this machine. Likes and favorites are the modern day equivalent to crack. Okay, maybe I’m going a little far there, but going on social media for no reason is a common occurrence with little to no payoff. So why do we do it?
A 2012 study, by The University of Chicago, found that texting, Facebook, and Twitter are more addicting than cigarettes and alcohol. The desire to go on social media ranked just below sex and sleep.
This is troubling, to say the least. It can almost become a second nature to go on our phones and check on social media. Endless scrolling is pointless and a waste of time, but stopping is harder than one would think it to be.
Indeed, the power that social media has over us is a difficult habit to break.
4. Missing Out
The final reason to cut down on social media is simple: It is making us lose out on real experiences, in exchange for a like or favorite. Constant staring at phone screens in public means that nobody can see what’s happening right in front of them. Conversations in public have gotten awkward, not because people have forgotten how to talk, but because it feels rude to interrupt someone from their social media feed.
A cute girl was standing next to me at Chipotle. I wanted to say something, but she was glued to her phone screen. Her turn came in line to order, but she didn’t know because she was so distracted. This is not uncommon, but a normal occurrence. I tapped her on the shoulder to go, and when she finally looked up, she seemed happy to see another human’s face.
We are trapped in a digital world that doesn’t exist. By using these distractions called networks, were making some CEO rich. What are we gaining by it, nothing really. Except for maybe a Facebook like, favorite tweet, and an endless feed that lowers our self-esteem.
There’s a way to stop, apply moderation. If you use social media a lot, it’s time to stop! Make a change and show others the way; make a difference starting today.