There is a social media apocalypse. I am sure you do not even need reminding. You know it because you are right in the middle of this disaster or at least you know someone who needs a hand to save their life because they are literally drowning.
The number of social media tools available to us increases by the day and there is this inherent pressure to always be plugged in. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr are all competing for our attention.
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Times have changed. We no longer emphasize the need to see each other face to face because that has been displaced by ‘screen to screen’.
Unknown to us, is how social media is ruining our health.
Addiction and Social Media
There are different reasons why we are all itching to log on to our social media platforms. It does not help much that even corporates are now pushing content to these platforms turning them into digital marketplaces. Not bad at all from a market point of view.
What should bother us is how much time we are spending on social media.
If you turn to your social media pages hunting for likes or trying to analyse who has said something positive on your photos, then check again how often you do that. Is your validation coming from social media?
Researchers in Norway have developed a scale that you can find here The Berge Facebook Addiction Scale. This is Facebook specific and that is a limitation if you are utilising other platforms as well but this can guide you in gauging your time on social media.
One of the key findings of this study by the University of Missouri-Columbia suggests that there is the close relation of Facebook addiction to mental health issues like anxiety, depression as well as social insecurity.
On the plus side, they established that people who were more organized and ambitious were utilising Facebook more for work and networking.
Photo by William Iven on Unsplash.
FOMO, Social Media And You
There are people who cannot stay still. Their phones have become an extension of their lives. FOMO (fear of missing out) will consume them if, God forbid, their batteries die or their phones get broken. We appreciate that there is a generation in Kenya and many other parts of the world that do not have any idea what it means to be without an electronic gadget. But we should let them know that these gadgets can make them sick.
A study on social media engagement and teenagers found that most of them feel pressurised to be available all the time and that in itself can lead to anxiety and even sleeplessness.
A teenager needs more sleeping time than an adult. When they eat at their bedtime surfing the net then that means they reduce the number of hours they are meant to rest. According to research, a teenager needs about 9.5 hours of sleep every night failure to which they get sleep deprived.
Teenagers and youth, in general, have become too immersed in this digital connection, promoting a culture of instant gratification as they seek solace from social media spaces. Their friends offer it in likes, thumb ups, retweets, comments you name it. The reverse is even more frustrating according to research. A post that is not reciprocated can send some into vicious cycles of mental breakdown. Theirs is a world where perfection is the common denominator. Perfect bodies, perfect friends, perfect everything including the perfect pictures they are sharing on Instagram.
Social media has become so pervasive and so has the fear of missing out (FOMO). Adults have not been left out of this plague. You will see, often in traffic, drivers checking their phones or even picking calls. What is it that cannot wait until you get to your destination? FOMO anyone?
It happens even in meetings. People scrolling their twitter feed to see what has been posted or who has retweeted. We are always looking for the next most interesting thing even when on dates. Why? Could it be that you have FOMO?
The question still remains, can we interact with social media mindfully and meaningfully without hurting ourselves and others?
Because of Social Media, We are Always Comparing
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt
Competition and comparison can be unhealthy. Social media promotes negative competition. We are always looking who has the dopest shoes, the most glamorous dress and all the negative energy that these forums bring to our lives.
We interact with social media from a singular perspective, hardly getting to understand the real lives and intentions of the people who put up posts. A picture of my family smiling to the camera is hardly a summary of our lives.
Here, lies the problem. We post the best of ourselves most of the time. Our social media personalities are highly edited and thus very different from our real lives.
Now that you know what you are up against, is it time for a digital detox?