Today, social media platforms have become an integral part of our lives. They offer us a sense of belonging and a platform to express ourselves. While it does connect us to people across the world, it also has the power to negatively impact us.
According to recent data, 60% of the world uses social media, with the average daily time spent being two and a half hours. Society urgently needs to recognize that a screen shouldn’t have so much control over our lives.
So, without further delay, let us explore why excessive social media usage can be harmful to you as a person.
1. Social Media Encourages Behaviors and Thoughts That Lead to Body Image Issues
When you scroll through meticulously curated feeds, it’s easy to compare your worth against the seemingly perfect lives of others. It could be your friend’s vacation photos or your ex’s travel videos with their new partner. It doesn’t really matter. The constant exposure to the curated successes of others can make anyone feel inadequate.
However, it can go beyond mere feelings of inadequacy. Social media has become a breeding ground for unrealistic beauty standards. Influencers showcase physiques that are unattainable for most people.
These unrealistic expectations warp individuals’ self-perceptions and lead to an obsession with changing their bodies to fit artificial standards. This dissatisfaction regarding one’s appearance has allowed the cosmetic surgery industry to reach a $46.5 billion market value.
In many instances, social media has had such a negative effect on people that it has led to self-harm. Instagram is at the forefront of these accusations. Several such affected individuals are filing Instagram lawsuit cases in an attempt to hold Meta, its parent company, accountable.
According to TorHoerman Law, the situation gets worse. The platform has been accused of not doing more to keep sexual exploitation in check. Only after a report from the Stanford Internet Observatory did Meta finally start looking into illegal content involving minors.
2. It Prevents You From Having an Objective View of Life
Social media algorithms are designed to push content that matches your existing beliefs. While this can provide a ‘personalized’ experience, it can also create filter bubbles, wherein you are shielded from alternative perspectives. This can lead to the reinforcement of biases and a narrow understanding of complex issues.
Building upon filter bubbles, confirmation bias is something that can further cement your existing beliefs and opinions. But forget political issues for a moment; there are far more important, existential issues at play.
Modern social media serves as an escape from the real world’s complexities and challenges. Sure, it can provide relief from stress, but we have proof now that excessive use reduces life satisfaction.
This dissatisfaction pushes many people to continue their escapism and go even deeper into the digital world. The question slowly arises: are we beings of the real world or the digital world? We certainly spend a lot of time in the online world and it’s tough to answer such a question.
What does all this do to a person in the long term? We don’t know. This is the first time that humans have created something that people find more interesting than the real world. Our generation is the first to experience this.
In a sense, we are test subjects. If we already know how harmful excessive indulgence in the online world is, what will we discover within thirty years?
3. It Has the Power to Mess With the Chemical Balance in Your Brain
Another unfortunate impact of social media is the need it creates for instant gratification. The quest for likes, shares, and comments creates a continuous feedback loop where we seek immediate validation through online engagement. This desire for approval detracts from the slower, more enduring process of finding genuine happiness.
The dopamine dependency that occurs as a result can lead to addictive behaviors, which we are already witnessing. Many people can’t go more than five minutes without compulsively opening apps and checking their notifications. The similarity between addiction to social media and hard drugs is concerning.
People also become so engrossed in documenting moments that they miss out on those very experiences in real life.
It’s not all dark, though. Sometimes, individuals can see through the fog and recognize how this addiction has done a number on them. This realization has motivated many to start a recovery process. Some find solace in digital detoxes; others travel. Even therapy is an option for those who feel mentally and emotionally drained by the online world.
These steps are a good start. They allow you to reconnect with the real world and seek happiness in genuine, offline experiences.
The next time you pick up your phone, try a little experiment. Instead of letting your brain automatically guide your fingers to the apps it craves, stop for a moment. Tell yourself what you are going to do in specific terms. This can stop you from falling into the doomscrolling trap.
It sounds awkward, but talking to yourself and saying precisely what you intend to do is extremely powerful. It takes away a lot of the charm that comes with letting your phone decide what you will do.
Remember, if you feel like you are unable to control your online usage even after your best efforts, therapy helps. Don’t hesitate to reach out and get the help you need. Your future self will be eternally grateful to you.