On average, we each spend nearly two hours a day on social media. This adds up to more than five years throughout a lifetime spent online scrolling through newsfeeds, liking posts, or artfully crafting statuses.
The amount of time that we spend on social media is alarming. The thing that’s difficult about social media is that more often than not it doesn’t provide an accurate depiction of a person’s life. People only post the photos that they find the most flattering, they only share thoughts that they want to be heard, and I think it’s safe to say we all have plenty of things that we don’t wish to broadcast about ourselves online. We often look at someone’s social media and have preconceived ideas about who they are, and why or why not we may want to get to know them.
When seeing heavily filtered photos of an Instagram model, a friend, or even a family member, it can be difficult not to compare yourself to them. Social media has set up a platform that inherently makes us compare ourselves to others. We judge the success of a post by how many responses it gets, and if we don’t get positive reinforcement in the form of likes we may not be satisfied with what we’ve shared.
It is increasingly common that young women strive to become models through social media platforms, and photos circulating the internet set up unrealistic beauty standards that can be harmful to girls’ self-esteem. Instead of appreciating all of the unique things that we have to offer, it seems that we are all striving to adhere to a form of beauty that results in the most positive response on social media.
Research indicates that social media has been linked to higher levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, envy, and a decrease in social skills. Research has demonstrated that an obsession with making your own life seem fun and fulfilling does not translate to an actual increase in self-satisfaction; in fact, it typically has the opposite effect.
In order to ensure that you aren’t too dependent on social media, it can be helpful to cut back. Try to only check social media sites once a day. It might make your feed a little more interesting, but also keep you engaged in the real world. Being aware of how much time you spend looking at your phone can be revealing as to how often you are cutting yourself off from human interaction. Whether it be a drastic change such as deleting social media apps entirely or simply allotting a specific amount of time each day to check them, decreasing the amount of time you spend on social media is the best way to stay focused on the events and people that matter in your physical life.
With all of this being said, social media is not all bad. Social media can be great for rekindling friendships, keeping up with people who you don’t see as often as you may like, and spreading important news to a wide array of people. Social media is also a good advertising platform and may allow people to be exposed to products and ideas that they would not come across normally.
It seems obvious to say that social media isn’t going anywhere. While there are many issues that social media has created, it also has allowed for easy communication and provided a creative space to share photos, thoughts, and other information that you may deem important.
Still, next time you find yourself two hours deep into stalking your cousin’s, friend’s, sister’s ex-boyfriend, you might want to consider an intervention.