Social media has a significant impact on the mind. It can cause paranoia, unnecessary anxiety, sensory overload, make you dwell on nonsense that you don’t need to dwell on and make you question everything. Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook keep us in the know of what everyone is doing. But not exactly. People also believe that social media is socializing, connecting, and staying in touch with those closest to you. Not really.
In actuality, those social platforms only reveal snippets or fragments of someone’s day. You’re not seeing the full picture of what everyone’s lives are about — their struggles, setbacks, hardships. All you’re seeing are highlights, toothy smiling faces, and an exaggerated narrative that doesn’t reveal what’s behind the surface of those squeaky clean images.
Since the 2016 election, being on social media has been increasingly difficult for me. I’m not the only one who has felt the weight social media can put on our shoulders; the constant awareness of the times in which we live, the tragedies happening around the globe, and everyone sharing their two-cents about a popular culture crisis. Our minds take in so much information in a day. The last thing we need is unnecessary information or news that in no way concerns or benefits us, especially if it causes harm in our mental processing and functioning. Let’s not forget to mention those ‘my day is ruined for good now’ triggers you may see on an image-heavy platform, whether it’s a political or personal post. You’ll never see me online in the morning. Ever.
It’s easy to develop social-sharing anxiety if you’re not someone who likes sharing your life away as well as posts that are constantly being thrown in your face. Someone’s decision to randomly favorite your photo or comment below your posts should never compromise your happiness, inner joy or peace. How many ‘likes’ you get doesn’t determine your worth as a person. Also, you’re not interacting with people by clicking that heart button or posting some sentence long comment. That isn’t relating. That isn’t socializing. That isn’t staying in touch.
Social media can quickly destroy our perceptions of ourselves, our lives, our experiences, and the things we’ve achieved. In the same sense, the truth of who and what we are becomes muddled in the cobbled web of pictures and captions. Every day you are accomplishing things whether big or small. It’s important to keep things in perspective and separate yourself from that draining rabbit hole of negativity social media can induce.
I always feared that if I signed off and stayed off of Instagram or social media that I’d miss out or nobody would stay in touch because I’m not promoting selfies every hour of the day with that Picture of the Day hashtag. I signed off of Instagram for the first time in I don’t know how long (because I am so utterly tired of social media). And honestly, I’m not sure if I’ll sign back on. Author Emma Cline puts it this way: mental silence allows creativity.
And that’s the other problem: those social platforms keep our minds trapped and whirling in nonsense, essentially setting yourself up for creative blocks. Your thoughts fixate on issues that don’t need your time or attention and the line between what is or isn’t important may blur. So instead of logging on to social media, pick up a mind-enriching hobby or read more. Take charge of your time, your energy, and your mood. Do the things your mind truly craves, the things that foster mental and emotional growth.