So,it’s been 3 years since I decided to quit social media. And I must admit there has been some dramatic changes in my life after that decision.Apart from some minor issues like missing a social event,I have really not missed anything that could possibly add value in my life in these 3 long years!Now you can’t just convince yourself to quit social media without giving yourself valid answer to ‘Why?’ So it took me almost 5 years(I created my account back in 2012 and deactivated in early 2017) to realise that I can give ‘quitting social media’ a try.
So primarily there were various reasons behind deactivating my social media account.But before coming to that lets find out why social media is so addictive.
Why is social media addictive?
- Social Media is designed to be addictive.Nicholas Carr says,”When we go online,we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading,hurried and distracted thinking and superficial learning.”Therefore whenever we stumble upon social media and get likes or comments,it stimulates our Dopamine and makes us feel satisfied.Social media companies even hire individuals who work as ‘attention engineers’ and clone principles used in casinos so that the consumers spend some more time in social media.
- Fear of missing out(F.O.M.O) is a major reason for people to stay tuned to social media.But FOMO isn’t real if you don’t know what you are missing out.Study shows 7 out of 10 students can’t get rid of their social media accounts only for the fear of being left ‘out of the loop’.
- Nowadays we value likes,dislikes,comments,share so much that it can be easily referred to as social currency or economy of attention.We put up our pictures or posts as a product to be tested in the market and if it doesn’t get the desired response or likes and comments,we choose to take it off the shelf or delete it.We let others evaluate us and attribute value to us. And this is a continuous addictive process.
How is life with Social Media?
Check out the points below,where I have noted down my experiences. I am quite sure that most of you can identify the symptoms mentioned.
When I was an active social media user,I felt that I wasn’t being able to concentrate in my work.I was mostly concerned about my social media presence.Therefore,I could hardly evaluate how I was performing in real life.I felt insecure and wanted validation from people in social media by putting up new posts.And to be honest I felt sad if I didn’t get many likes or comments.I was so occupied with my social media image that I could hardly take care of myself.I used to be stressed out in mindless arguments.I was demotivated and couldn’t separate my real-life from the social media life .My brain was mostly congested with the irrelevant posts or memes.
2.Wastage of time:
I used to scroll mindlessly on social media for at least 3 to 4 hours everyday.Although it seems quite natural,the sum can be alarming if I attach monetary value to the time I waste.If my work value is 20$ per hour,I will waste 80$ in 4 hours.That will amount to 2400$ in a month and now you can see the bigger picture.Thus now if your work value is higher,you are wasting a lot of money for every hour you spend on social media.
3. Low Productivity:
Since I was mostly concentrated to my activities on social media,I could hardly focus on my projects.I felt I had mental block and was lacking creativity and depth.I could not concentrate in my work for long.Thus it affected my work.
4. Online Harassments:
Survey says,atleast 40% adults experience online harassment.73% has reportedly witnessed online harassments.I have been involved in unnecessary arguments just to defend myself.In most of the cases,we can barely present ourselves as we are in person.Therefore we are free to be attacked by anyone without any valid grounds of attacking. Fake accounts make this task easier. As an example,numerous women are attacked by death and rape threats for showing themselves as feminists.Students between 13 to 18 years who spend 2 hours a day on social media reported higher depression,anxiety and suicidal thoughts.In social media outrage is possible even in silliest matters.
5. Fake Relationships:
Mere exchange of likes and comments can make us feel connected with our social-media-buddies.But in reality a person can be totally different from his/her social media portrayal of personality.Therefore, if you feel connected with the school friends just because they are in your social,you might be devastated when they show a personality that has changed over time.Even the strangers can turn out to be hugely different than their social media portrayal when met in person.Although,sometimes,you might find like minded people through social media,you need to extend that relationship to reality to get the true essence of that relationship.
With the growing tendency of online hacking,we are often concerned about our profile being hacked followed by public shaming.Since identity is public,their is a huge risk of misuse of it by intruders.
Long term effects of using Social Media
Social Media may bring forth multiple,well documented, significant harms in our lives.
- It may permanently reduce your capacity of attention and sustained concentration.Thus causing attention deficit problems.
- You may experience Fantom Vibration Syndrome which makes you think the phone is vibrating even when it’s not.
- You will also indulge in Phubbing which indicates the vexing habit of checking phone while having conversations with others.
- Tirelessly scrolling social media can affect tendons of fingers leading the to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- You may experience fatigue or sleep deprivation for staying up too late for posting on Facebook or Twitter losing valuable sleep.
- Social Media can completely destroy your mental health.That may cause neglecting your personal life,be depressed,lead to mental preoccupation and escapism.
How’s life without Social Media?
When you omit yourself from social media,you might find yourself in a blank space.You might be at a loss to decide what to do after opening your browser.You might also miss the witty references to memes or trending topics in your conversations.Still you will be swayed by the positive impacts quitting social media can bring to your life.
1. Head Space:
You reclaim headspace after getting past the first few weeks of withdrawal symptoms. You feel calm and composed.Your brain is healed. You also become blissfully ignorant of the overflowing irrelevant news and carefully curated pictures that was consuming your head.
2. Self realisation:
You finally find some time to focus on yourself. There is an automatic shift in focus from what everyone else is doing to what you are doing. Suddenly get plenty of time unsure of how to use. You get time to evaluate your performance daily. You get to discover and learn new hobbies. Suddenly you find ways to increase your productivity and take care of yourself. Since you don’t get to see hate-filled comments,political rants,insane quotes and toxic people you feel the inner peace. You also overcome your insecurities and depression. You get that required mental bandwidth to do deep work.
3. Living in the moment:
You finally get to experience meetings and events. Since you don’t need to click pictures or update location information just for the sake of letting people know that you are having a good time,you feel burden free. You enjoy every moment you spend with your friends,loved ones,strangers or yourself. You don’t need to worry about clicking the perfect picture of that event with potentiality of hundreds of likes. You feel rejuvenated like never before.
You start building meaningful relationships. You find new ways to work on the relationships you already have. You also understand the vagueness of the online relationships and tend to create sustainable relationships. You get the real sense of socializing.
Should I be on social media or not?
Well,some people seem to do quite well while being on social media. Others are toxically addicted to social media to perform even minute tasks.In either case,social media does restrict you from performing at your best capabilites.Moreover,there are numerous people whose work is social media oriented.In that case ,you really can’t leave social media.But there are ways in which can create social media wellness.
1. Make friends with like-minded people:
When you are friends with people who share same interests and values as you do,you feel the positive vibe.You feel free to share your thoughts and don’t get threatened by unnecessary arguments. You can follow people who boosts you up with a motivational vibe and add value to your life. There is no shame in unfriending or unfollowing people whose social media presence embarrasses you.
2. Browse or post intentionally:
Try to avoid the news feed.That’s were all the unnecessary information lies. But once you’ve customised your news feed or only turned on posts from people you admire,you will feel a lot better.Browse or post only when you need to share something that you feel might add great value to your or other’s lives.
3. Delete social media from phone:
Even if your job is related to social media,delete social media from phone. This won’t give you opportunity to binge -visit your social account whenever you open your phone. Since,we use phones in various purposes thus keep it with us most of the time,we need to make sure that the device doesn’t carry any source of negativity. For emergencies you can always visit your account from your phone’s browser.
4. Use in scheduled time:
If your job requires you to browse social media very often,try to use it in scheduled time. You can always fix the time you want to invest in social media. There are number of productivity apps that might help you in this case ,but those are just mechanical solutions.
5. Binge sometimes:
If you’ve deactivated your account,always keep the flexibility to binge into it occasionally. There is nothing wrong to go back to the place to understand how much your life has changed ever since you have left social media.
Always remember,you should have control over your life.You should not just let social media to decide who you are and how you should feel about yourself.Once you’ve understood that you can sort your social media presence. And if only you’re not necessarily required to stay on social media for your business or job,always remember you can never hit your highest productivity capacity no matter how little time you spend on social media.