I don’t always make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do always set new goals. One of my biggest goals this year is to be a bit less involved with social media. And I know that might seem confusing, considering that my entire business is online. But I think it’s entirely possible to be completely engaged with my business while also being less involved with social media. But how? I think it’s all about how we approach social media and what role we allow it to play in our lives.
Chances are, you found this post on social media. It’s the primary avenue of not only communication, but also news, politics, and all sorts of other information. Social media is how we stay connected to the world, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing—but it certainly can be. Social media has influenced society in so many areas over recent years, and it’s important for us to recognize how we are being affected, and how our children are being affected as well.
Social media was developed on the basis on connecting with other people. It was that simple. The first recognizable “social media platform” was called Six Degrees, and allowed for people to create profiles and connect with other profiles. Then came all sorts of messenger platforms, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and many more. Again, at a very basic level, each of these was created so that individuals could have a way to connect with others.
And at that very basic level, it’s a brilliant concept. We all have friends and family spread far and wide. And we all love being able to connect with them, stay in touch, get little glimpses of their lives.
But the problem is that social media has developed into a much more complex concept.
What was intended for a method of active communication has turned into a method of passive consumption.
More people spend time pointlessly scrolling through news feeds and reading random information than actually engaging with other people on social media. And while some may say there’s no problem with “checking out” in this way, it might actually be more of a problem than you think.
The first and most obvious problem with this is that it is addictive. Studies say the average person checks Facebook over forty times in twenty-four hours… and on average, most people are asleep for 8 of those hours. That means most people are checking Facebook forty-something times in a sixteen hour period. Why? It’s probably not because we are anxiously awaiting a response from someone. It’s most likely that we are addicted. Whether it’s completely aimless and we do it out of habit, or we do it because we are obsessing over numbers, likes, and comments, it’s not good. The subconscious need to constantly refresh social media is an addiction that needs to be broken.
And if it’s because of numbers, likes, and comments, that’s another issue all on its own.
Social media influences our sense of acceptance and belonging. The more likes and comments we get, the better we feel about ourselves. And because social media is a wall we can hide behind, it means that we can portray our very best self in order to get the exact responses we want. We can literally be anyone we want in order to get our ideal number of likes, comments, and compliments. And the more of those we get, the better we feel. But do we really? It’s a false satisfaction. Because the comments and likes aren’t directed at the real us… they are directed at the person we have made ourselves out to be.
And for some of us, our desire isn’t even to be someone we aren’t, but we genuinely want acceptance for the real us. Even that is a challenge, because we are relying on others’ aimless scrolling and double tapping to feel like we are worth something.
The more we rely on social media to feel worthy, successful, attractive, or whatever else we are looking for, the less connected we become with our reality.
And the less connected we become with our reality, the more our reality suffers.
Whether it’s our work, our relationships, or even our children, we can easily damage the things that really matter by giving too much attention to the things that don’t.
When we care so much about social media that we become addicted, it is inevitable that we neglect other more important things in our lives.
If we can take a step back and choose to be present with those around us, present with our families, and present with our reality, it’s entirely possible that we might experience the acceptance and satisfaction that social media will never bring.
And then, maybe, social media might be a healthy thing for us. Whether we use it to connect with others across the country, promote our businesses, or share photos of our families, we can use in a way that enhances our lives rather than complicating it.
Social media isn’t a bad thing. But many of us have developed addictions that need to be broken.