It’s safe to say that I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love the idea of social media and the opportunities it gives me to connect with the world around me. I love getting to see what my friends are doing whether they are in the same town as me or they are hundreds of miles away. However, I can also admit that I am a bit addicted to social media.
I found myself spending entirely too much time scrolling through Twitter or watching my friends’ stories on Snapchat. I began realizing my attachment to social media about a year ago and it began making me feel uncomfortable. However, I didn’t really change how I used social media.
At the beginning of the year, I decided to change the way I viewed social media and also limit my use of social media. It’s been challenging and I am still getting in the groove of working on it!
“So, why do you have issues with social media, Nicole?”
Simply put: I’ve become dependent on social media. Before I get out of bed in the morning, I immediately grab my phone and check all my social media accounts. It’s become a mindless routine for me. I’ll even scroll through Twitter, close the app, forget I just checked twitter, and check Twitter again five minutes later. Scary right?
I tend to find myself picking up my phone to avoid awkward social situations. If I’m with a group of people I don’t know very well or having a conversation that has reached a standstill, I’ll pick up my phone and scroll aimlessly. It’s become a crutch for many of us in social settings.
I feel the first sign of boredom and I immediately look to the world of social media for entertainment.
Our need for instant validation through social media is the main reason social media began making me uncomfortable. I realized I was looking to my followers for validation whether it was through likes, retweets, comments, or the number of followers I have.
Once I realized my own need for validation, it became more obvious to me when other people on social media were looking to others for validation, too.
What I mean specifically is: feeling validated because you got a bunch of likes on a picture you posted or feeling validated by the number of followers you have.
Once I began college, I started frequently posting my accomplishments (mostly on Facebook) as a way to keep my large family updated! It felt good having many people congratulate me on my good news. It feel good being rooted for and supported. Yet, I began feeling very arrogant. I began feeling that I wasn’t humble. I began feeling that I was bragging on all my success and not giving God the glory He rightfully deserved.
I started reevaluating the way I presented my accomplishments. I now ask myself: “Is this to update people who have been on my journey and also to give glory to God?” or “Is this to pat myself on the back and make myself look good?” If my answer is yes to the latter, I opt out of posting whatever the accomplishment may be. I’m choosing to text or call people personally and share big news instead of immediately feeling the need to tell the world.
As I grow more confident in the woman I am becoming the less inclined I feel to post things on social media for compliments or validation from others.
3. FOMO (fear of missing out)
This one’s probably up there with validation for me. Snapchat specifically comes to mind when I think of FOMO from social media. Snapchat stories allow us to post these cute videos updating our friends on what cool things we’re doing! I enjoy watching other people’s stories on Snapchat more than I enjoy posting my own. Snapchat stories have a way of inviting me into the moment as if I am really there. It’s a more personal experience than any other social media platform.
However, I often find myself experiencing FOMO. It usually happens when I’m having a quiet night in and I check Snapchat and see some of my friends hanging out together seeming to be having a lot of fun (… without me)! I start to wish I was there too and I begin feeling sad that I’m alone when I was just fine chilling at home before I got on Snapchat.
It’s a dangerous game to play.
4. “Don’t compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel”
Social media gives us the chance to give our friends and family (and even strangers) a glimpse into our lives! It truly is our very own highlight reel. We only post the good parts of our lives. The monumental moments. The achievements. The good hair days. The “instaworthy”outfits. The amazing vacation photos. The fun night downtown.
We begin comparing ourselves to the people we see on Instagram. We find ourselves wishing we were as photogenic as them or living their cool lives. We all find ourselves falling into the comparison trap every now and then.
My wake up call was realizing that I only feel the need to compare myself to others when I’m looking at social media. Something about social media gives this added illusion that we live perfect and beautifully candid lives. We all know that’s far from the truth.
We don’t see people’s vulnerable moments. We don’t see their “behind the scenes”. We’re giving these often false images of who we really are.
I think that’s the cool part of social media- choosing what we want to share with others.
I just think it’s important to remember that no one’s lives are as perfect as they seem when we scroll through social media. We’ve got to practice self care when scrolling.
“We’re putting on a face that we want people to see but it isn’t necessarily the honest face of who we are and we’re basing our self-worth on how many retweets we get, how many likes we get, how many followers we have, how many friends we have, and for me: social media and the way we interact and what we prioritize in culture is really fascinating to me right now”- Mark Foster, Foster the People
5. It’s just unhealthy
I love social media and plan to continue using it (in moderation). I think we all need to alter our own use of it to create a healthier relationship with social media.
I personally find that I began checking my phone when I was hanging out with my family and friends. It’s rude. There’s no denying that. I am working to avoid having my phone out when I’m hanging out with other people.
I also try to spend less time staring at screens. Whether it’s for school, for work, or for leisure, I spend 80% of my day staring at a screen. Okay honestly about 90% of my day staring at a screen. I know that’s not good for my eyes, so I’m trying to take a break from staring at screens every once in a while.
Also: I have the worst sleeping habits. I’m a night owl by nature, but an early bird due to class. I find it hard to wind down for bed because my mind is always still wired and wanting to read something, write something, or check social media. I’m working to combat this by not using my phone an hour or so before I plan on going to sleep.
*I’m still failing at this one, but working on it*
I want to spend more time experiencing the world around me and finding other things to fill my time.
I recently “unplugged” for an entire day and it was awesome. I turned off all my notifications for social media, deleted or hid some of the apps, and didn’t check them all day. There were times when I found myself wanting to check them out of habit, but I survived. I felt great not feeling tied down to social media. I felt more productive. I felt less FOMO because I couldn’t care what my friends were doing because I had zero clue what they were doing.
I’m currently thinking of other ways to redefine my use of social media, such as, limiting my use to once a day or taking an unplugged day once a week.
I hope this gets you thinking on your use of social media and its role in your life. It may be playing a bigger role than you think.
sidenote: since writing this in march, i turned off all social media notifications and my phone is on do not disturb most of the time. I only check my social media once a day usually near the end of the day and I’ve just been more intentional with my use of social media.
until next time,