On average, you spend five years of your life on social media. Five years! Five years you could have used to graduate or make a career. Maybe that doesn't bother you, but it does bother me, especially when I stop to consider all the things I could have done. I could have written a song, an article, studied, seen the world! But worse than spending five years of our life stuck on a screen, there are many other reasons to take a break from social media. Social media, I'm sorry, it's not me--it's you.
I'll start with the cliched reason: Social media distorts reality. Even mine. On Instagram, we see a flood of beautiful images and catchy captions. Susie Smith posts a beautiful sunset and writes, "Hiking life, #wanderlust." And while, yes, it must of have been a good trip, that doesn't necessarily mean that getting that picture was easy or done on the first try. Moreover, you don't see all the context. You have no idea if it went badly, etc. More than distorting reality, it makes you feel like your life isn't nearly as interesting, when it is! We all experience life uniquely, but with social media it is so easy to make our own lives seem 20 times better with a good angle and filter.
No one can deny the power social media has to connect us. Especially as my friends and I have diverged to different schools. Social media has been instrumental in keeping up with their lives and keeping connected. However, the reality is that most of the time, these connections are superficial. Yes, I'm sure my friend Johnny Appleseed really appreciates that I took the time to like his post on Facebook, and yes, after watching Jane's Snapchat story, I feel as though we never stopped talking! But in reality, liking a post or watching a video will never substitute actually talking or hanging out, or even at least some texting. The busier our lives get, the more prone we are to thinking that just by interacting on social media, you're still close friends, but in reality building and maintaining substantial connections takes much more than that.
Social media can affect the way you receive validation. Whether your handle is dedicated to posting for strangers or for your closest 300 friends, social media affects you. In fact, most of the time it cripples you. Now, don't scoff. Once upon a time, I thought just like you: pah, social media will never make me dependent on it! I won't let it! But the truth is, it's a heady feeling to see how many "likes" and "friends" you have. Sometimes it feels way better to have 50 likes from people I don't know than to have a compliment from a friend, and that's kind of sad.
But why does this happen? Mostly because social media strips away the individual component and just turns our posts and profiles into numbers. You have 200 friends and follow 280 people, etc. And once you start thinking in numbers, it's hard to stop. You wonder, was my picture not cool enough? Why am I getting less likes? Wow, more friends! More comments! It's a vicious cycle, and like me, you might get to the point that you start measuring the worth of your posts or your moments by how many likes or views you get. Please remember, the reality is, most people that like your posts, especially if you cater to a niche rather than friends, probably don't care too much about you or your life. So when they "like" it might just be because they're scrolling through #selfiesunday and they kind of like your picture after seeing it for .2 seconds and scrolling away.
Remember what I mentioned earlier, about Susie Smith and her post "Hiking life #wanderlust"? Well, it's true. You don't know how long it took to take that photo, or how long it took to edit, or if she stood still to enjoy that hike. Or maybe she was just running around not enjoying the birdsong overhead because she was too busy looking for the perfect photo for her social media handle. This happens a lot. People hiking, people trying to take the perfect photo of their food; the list is endless. And the worst part about it is that by focusing so much on capturing a beautiful millisecond, you miss all the other beautiful moments. You miss that smile, or the silence, or the breeze and instead all you will have to remember that day by is a post that says "Hiking life #wanderlust." And somehow in the end, going to that hike or eating that cake or decorating that birthday card becomes less about that and more about how to make it look cool and getting likes.
It has never been easier for people to push their way into our lives. Random people may start to follow you, whether your account is private or not. While you see their profile, you realize, you have no idea who this person is. So why are they following you? A quick look into their profile, BAM! You realize that they probably only followed you to get a new follower before unfollowing. Or maybe you realize that it's not even a profile page and it's just a spam account. So no, spam isn't some new horror, but with the way we've integrated social media into our lives, it can be harder to distinguish and avoid it. In short, it's a hassle.
This one is a big concern. Social media is this huge treasure chest of information all on you. Everybody can see your posts or your photos. Even if you're a private account, all it takes is for somebody to screenshot something. Moreover, when posting pictures, we are also posting important information like how we look, where we've been, our likes, our dislikes. As harmless as that seems, it can be bad in the wrong hands. One of the most concerning privacy issues with social media are things like geotags that give the precise location of where you took your photos. Imagine that! Someone can know precisely where in the globe you were when you posted X picture on Y day. Or you took a picture at your house, and inadvertently, you've posted your address for the world to see. That is terrifying.
Yes, you knew this was coming. At the end of the day, social media takes up a lot of our valuable time. Like I told you earlier, five years of your life! And most of that fixation comes because of our society's social media addiction. It's true and it really needs to stop. Not only does it take away from living in the moment, it also takes away from all the other things you can do with your time. And that is the worst thing social media can take from you, because time is the only thing you can never get back.
So there you have it: Eight reasons to take a break from social media. Time to say, bye bye, social media, it's not me; it's you. Even if you can't make a clean break that's fine. Just take a moment, breathe, live and don't focus on the numbers.
Lead Image Credit: Pexels