We note the irony that you’re probably reading this on your smartphone and if you like it enough, you might even SHARE us. (Hint, hint…) But seriously, are we becoming addicted to social media? We know that social media isn’t a mere distraction, or an addiction for privileged teenagers. It is also a tool for political expression all over the world, where the freedom to tweet a comment on Twitter can’t be taken for granted. We can’t really make an umbrella statement about the existence of social media in the world. But if your eyes are bleary from the light of the screen as you are reading this, then maybe in some ways, social media is ruining your life. Here are 10 ways social media could be ruining your life.
1. Staring at the phone too much is actually really harmful for your eyes
The light from your phone may be associated with the future, with the endless possibilities of sleek technology; it is a window to the world, a clean and luminous light. It is also blue-violet light, known to cause macular degeneration in the long run.
2. Texting is so bad for your neck and spine
According to a doctor at the New York Spine & Rehabilitation Medicine, “tilting our heads down and forward even slightly when we look at our smartphone screens can put as much as 60 pounds of stress on our necks and spines.” If you have to text a lot, try to bring your phone to eye level, as though you were filming the stage at a concert. But otherwise, that tension you feel in your neck isn’t because someone isn’t texting you back. It’s because our heads were not made for a lot of forward tilting!
3. It sucks up more time in a day than you would think
These days, being online accompanies breathing; if one is awake, one is online. I won’t put a number on it because you can easily google that fact, but I will venture to say that the total amount of time we spend on social media is probably enough to get us to the Intermediate 4 level of the Finnish language. And mind you, Finnish is a pretty difficult language.
4. It makes you envious about other people’s lives
It is not for no reason that an app exists that turns the faces of babies into bacon. Whatever age group you’re in, social media exists to test the Biblical command, “Thou Shall Not Covet.” Open Facebook and you’re hit with a stream of stimuli–Patagonia, a summer wedding, a dinner party, brick-walled apartments, babies, cats, more babies (have I mentioned that already?).
The point is, because you pick and choose your best moments to post online, everybody is giving everybody else the idea that somebody else is always having a better time. (Just think of the song, “Everybody was kungfu fighting. Those kids were fast as lightning.”) If you’re really sucked into it, the effects of social media can be pretty hazardous for your mental health.
5. All the stimuli can affect your self-esteem
Social media can make you doubt yourself; it can make you lose the faith that the choices you have made are indeed the right ones for you.
What the internet gives you is doubt, cloaked as “choice.”
And doubt will propel you to keep on clicking.
Scrolling down a Facebook newsfeed, you may subconsciously come to doubt everything. From an MBA program that you’re already enrolled in to the matte lipstick color you just bought (Sephora just advertized Charlize Theron wearing a much better shade.)
Everything can be thrown into doubt chiefly because there are so many other options at the lightest tap of a finger. The worst thing is that there isn’t an end to the clicking, nor an end to the feeling of rankling dissatisfaction that is starting to gnaw at you. In a way, social media can be like a mirage in the desert.
6. Your attention span changes
Read a book lately, anyone? The other day, I couldn’t even sit through an episode on Netflix. And I don’t believe I’m alone here. I mean, even a 15 minutes Youtube video feels like a slog these days, right?
7. You make more friends than ever but also have fleeting online friendships
If you are active online to any extent at all, chances are that you will “make friends.” This is especially true for the very young among us. It can be very heartening to find that you have so much in common with someone living all the way out in Alaska, or Beirut. But these “online friendships,” so easy to strike up, also fade out into the blue-violet light pretty easily.
8. You might build up your online persona at the detriment of your real life
Talking online is not like talking in person. You could be in the comfort of your pajamas, eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at home and no one can stop you from concocting a really attractive online persona with your carefully chosen photos and status updates. But so much of life continues to take place offline, in life itself. A generation trained to put all their efforts into crafting the perfectly attractive online persona, when decades ago, that effort would have gone into actually becoming a better person… Well, I’m sure that doesn’t sound so great to anyone!
9. You are fundamentally looking for some empty kind of affirmation
Social media is ruining your life if you are always looking to show off that you are at a cool enough bar, or at a new-and-upcoming enough restaurant, that your beach wear is fashionable, that your 140-words tweet packs a punch like no one else’s. In the social media age, the line between “sharing” and being an exhibitionist has gotten so blurry that nobody bothers to think about the difference anymore.
10. You don’t live in the moment
Finally, the steepest cost of making social media our master is that we are letting life past us by while we are too busy checking all the notifications on our phones.
Do you now hear that gentle chime in a different way?
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