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A social media break: Is it time to logout?

Do you scroll through social media apps countless times in a day? How many times do you agonise over the likes and followers you command on your social media handles? Do you find yourself having close calls on busy roads because your eyes are glued to your phone as you cross the street? If your answer to two or more of these questions is a yes, you are a social media patient.

The evolution of technology in the past couple of decades has brought us remarkable tools and resources. Social media channels are one of them. The introduction of social networking apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Whatsapp has changed the way we interact with others. Instant messaging (IM) has replaced interpersonal communication that are being made more personalised and expressive through emoji. In one touch, anyone can express their emotions and feelings through these tiny yellow faces and figures, which make interactions fun, seamless, and comfortable.

We use social media apps for various reasons; socialising, finding and sharing information, shopping, and sometimes simply for distraction. We have an app for everything; fitness, food, entertainment, weather forecast, breaking news. The pressure to stay updated on all of them is immense. According to a survery, on average a user spends two hours and twenty-two minutes everyday liking, tweeting, updating, and randomly browsing on their social media apps. While these platforms have their benefits, using them frequently and recklessly can make us feel increasingly unhappy and isolated in the long run.

British science-fiction TV Series, Black Mirror, aptly predicts what being glued to our black-mirrored screens does to us. Exposing the dark side of technology, the show foretells the invisible effects of social media channels and how they can influence our decisions and actions when used haphazardly. While the show is fiction, the negative effects of networking platforms are not.

Revealing the dangers of social media channels, which stems from imprudent usage of the social media platforms, Soulveda brings an important question to the fore; when do our networking platforms turn a foe from an ally.

Cyberbullying can lead to Anxiety and Depression.

The restlessness caused by fewer ‘likes’ or cyberbullying can lead to anxiety and depression.

A tech addiction

At times described as a habit more addictive than drinking or smoking, excessive or compulsive usage of social media has been noted to be a behavioural addiction. The uncontrollable urge to access these apps affects the brain and the body, causing stress and various other psychosomatic disorders. So, if you can’t keep your phone away for too long, maybe you should take a social media break and focus on getting rid of this compulsion.

A ‘friend request’ to mental health disorders

Mental health professionals are deeply concerned with the adverse effects of prolonged social media exposure these days. The seemingly simple scrolling on these platforms sprouts feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, and unhappiness. The restlessness and worry caused by fewer ‘likes’, cyberbullying, feelings of jealousy, and envy provoked by the ‘filtered online lives’, all contribute to the much more serious illnesses like anxiety and depression.

Faceless Facebook fights

Some assume that cyberbullying is only for the young, but even adults relentlessly bully each other online. Insensitive, aggressive, and unpleasant remarks are easily made anonymously on these platforms. Such online attacks leave deep emotional scars and can drive people to take extreme steps like suicide.

Comparing leads to feelings of inadequacy

Comparing your life to others’ leads to feelings of inadequacy; something which is affecting the younger population everywhere.

Sleepless on Snapchat

If you don’t get enough sleep, it automatically hampers your overall health. Increased usage of social media, constant anxiety, and the insatiable urge to check these platforms, disturb the sleeping patterns. Browsing social media platforms, especially at night, rattles your sleep cycle and can lead to issues bigger than sleeplessness.

No filter for low self-esteem

The barrage of picture-perfect filtered photos that appear on your feed can easily shake your self-esteem. Comparing your life to others’ leads to feelings of inadequacy; something which is affecting the younger population all across the world. Comparing yourself to the aesthetically perfect posts others make does very little to assuage your feelings of self-doubt. So, lay off the scroll-compare-regret cycle, it does you no good!

With unlimited social media excess, compulsive browsing can easily become a reason for insecurity, social isolation, and depression. Staring at the seemingly happier and more successful lives of others invites timidity and vulnerability. The displacement of face-to-face interaction and shift in modes of communication from talking to texting has left people with a feeling of deep-set loneliness. Glued to the rectangular screens, we are slowly becoming more acquainted with our friends’ digital facades than their real-life personas.

As with everything else, social media is both good and bad for us. But, at the end of the day, you are the one who decides whether there’s more help or harm in it for you. So, while you don’t have to quit social media for good, but if it is beginning to take over your life, you should consider allocating some social media-free time in your daily routine? This slight change could do you a whole lot of good.

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