Social media is what I would call a “necessary evil”. For most of us, it’s the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we look at before going to sleep. The world is always moving, and at times, it can seem like the less time you spend scrolling, the more you are missing out on. With new apps and trends constantly arising, social media becomes a never ending spiral, and, how deep we go into it impacts our lives more than we know.
On average, people aged 16-24 spend about three hours on social media daily. That’s roughly 82,125 hours in a lifetime. Taking into account sleeping hours, the average person spends half their life on social media. In today’s day and age, that means we are basically living a double life. Everyone is creating a perfectly curated version of themselves for the world to see, and taking in so much information, that they barely have time to process it.
In my opinion, social media affects my age group and generation the most. As a kid born in 2004, I have never known a life of not having the world at my fingertips. In fact, Facebook was founded less than two months after I was born. Like many of my peers, for me, Snapchat, Instagram and Tiktok have become daily parts of my life. It keeps me connected with my friends, teaches me things I never knew, and puts a smile on my face when I see a funny video. However, like anything, social media also has a dark side.
One of the most common “symptoms” of social media overdose is screen fatigue. At some point, our eyes get tired of staring at screens all day. Now especially, teens are spending all day learning through a screen, and then on top of that, we watch TV, go on Snapchat and make Tiktoks. Short term, this may not do much, but long term, it can leave you feeling drained of energy. In addition to physical health, social media can also take a major toll on our mental health. Many studies have shown a strong link between social media and depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. Again, this may not be immediately evident, but when I look around, the effects on mental health are all around us. Overall, these networks creates a feeling of inadequacy. It’s always “why isn’t my life exciting like theirs?, why don’t I look like them, etc). Although most of us are aware that things on social media are refined to show the best of people’s lives, subconsciously, these images and videos still affect us.
Social media is a game. When I post a photo on Instagram, I genuinely try to do it for fun. But, ultimately, I still check how many likes, comments, or shares I get. Before you know, you’re wrapped up in a debilitating contest. It’s at a certain point, that we may all need to step back from social media. Now, for some, this can be extremely difficult. Social media becomes a daily habit, an addiction, for many teens and even adults. It’s not easy to put down the phone for an hour, let alone a day or week. For me, logging out of all my socials stops me from engaging with them too much. I may click on it out of habit, but when the “log in” screen comes up, I am reminded of why I am taking a break. I would recommend that everyone takes a hiatus from the screen when they feel overwhelmed. For one person, it could be turning off their phone for two hours. For others, it could be permanently disconnecting from all their accounts. Each person has individual needs, and it’s vital to tap into your own. Inquire about how social media affects you, and how much of a break you need. Be honest with yourself. With a much needed break, social media once again becomes a gateway to an exciting world, not a draining one.
“Focus on how to be social, not how to do social.” -Jay Baer
Featured image by @stereophototyp