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Is Social Media Affecting the Way We live our Lives?

Why should be intentional about the time we spend on social media

Welcome to another edition of wisdom weekly! Today's post is all about social media. How we use it (positively & negatively), how it can affect our mental health, and why we should use it in moderation. With the rise of social media in recent years, a lot of us have bought into the virtual reality that these online platforms have offered us. We are more concerned with what the people online are doing or saying, rather than those around us. Although these platforms are termed “social”, they have made us less social/ interactive with the people who are physically present with us. One of my pet peeves is hanging out with a group of people, and everyone happens to be on their cellphone.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

That is ample time you could use to catch up on what is happening in your lives, that is being wasted. We have become so attached to our mobile devices, that we can't wait to catch a break just so we can go online. I am also guilty of this; I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and I pick up my phone to find out what is going on with my followers, or who has posted what, or who has followed me, or who has slid into my dm’s. It has slowly become an addiction that we all need to break free from.

With highly curated posts and profiles being thrown at us daily (or maybe you are the one doing the throwing), it is very easy, for you to begin to compare your lives to these online personas. I know I have felt down and out, when I see people talking about their successes or possessions online, and often thought to myself—I must be doing something wrong. I remember a time when I had to un-follow someone on social media because they kept on posting about their designer possessions, from their clothing to the type of car they drove and the house they lived in.

I wondered, what in the world is this person doing, to be able to afford that kind of lifestyle? In order for me not to get jealous, I made the conscious decision to take the person off my following list, and I have also taken sporadic breaks from my social media platforms, to regroup, and make sure that it wasn’t rubbing me off real-life connections and basically—reality. Right now, I follow people who inspire, uplift, share their journeys of authenticity to the best of my knowledge.

I have also been on the other side of social media; posting things that weren't as accurate. I was in a relationship once where things were bad, and I kept on posting pictures of me and the person I was involved with on my social media page. To the entire world, we looked so happy! He was a good-looking guy; tall, dark and handsome—not to sound cliché, but he really was, so people thought I had landed my prince charming. But behind closed doors, our relationship story was entirely different. I felt so alone and unhappy.

I needed to break free from the relationship, but I guess the simple awwws and love-struck emoticon comments I got whenever I posted online, fed into my insecurities and made me stay a little while longer than I actually should have. No one wants to post about how sad and depressed they may be feeling in a moment or even how real their life is, everyone wants to post about that expensive looking vacation, their perfect looking relationship, their well-behaved children, a first class trip, or about them working that dream job, that affords them the ability to travel around the globe (still waiting for that opportunity).

"Do not trade in time for personal interaction, with time online for social media."

The likes and the comments, in a weird way, feed into our insecurities. If someone thinks we are really cool online, then we must be doing something right. Sad to say, but we have become an attention seeking generation and that has come to be, because of the rise of social media in recent years. Studies have shown that the more we use social media, the more likely we are to be depressed and isolated. They have also shown that social media can have a negative impact on our well-being; stemmed from things like comparison and cyberbullying.

Teenagers suffer a great deal from the effects of using social media the wrong way. They interact with people they do not know. And because of their lack of maturity and poor sense of judgment, they agree to meet up with these people who they follow online and sometimes, if not most times, end up getting raped, trafficked, killed, or even forced into relationships that they don’t want to be in. Parents need to be on their teenage kids like a hawk.

They need to know who their online friends are; they also need to know who their kids are interacting with. If it were up to me, teenagers (between 13-17 years) would have no business using social media. I remember when one of the popular platforms kicked off over ten years ago; they had an age restriction on it. I had just turned 18, and was fresh to college, when my friends helped me set up an online profile.

Because of the increase in crime rates, against these young kids, mostly committed by online predators, I think teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to use social media, until they are at least out of high school. Or if they need to have one so bad, then these social media platforms should create versions that are restricted to the students of a particular school, for each school. Their age, time spent on social media, and what they post about should also have a huge role in this.

I recently shared a difficult journey I went through on my social media page. It was hard to do because I was opening myself up to possible judgment and scrutiny. But I felt that it was important for me to share, so others could learn from my mistakes. The feedback was amazing; people applauded me for the strength and courage I had to share my story.

That is one of the positive things about social media; you get to reach a group of people that you wouldn’t have reached on a regular day. You can publish a story, or a post and someone on the other side of the planet can benefit from it. So as much as it can be a draining tool, if not used properly, it can also be a productive and enriching tool.

For you to get the best out of the social media experience, I think that there needs to be a healthy balance, just as with anything in life. Make intentional decisions about the times you allow yourself to be on social media. It could be for 30 minutes to an hour a day. While you are on these platforms, make sure you are looking at things that will uplift your spirits, and not weigh you down.

Do not trade in time for personal interaction, with time online for social media. If you spend time observing the environment around you, you will get more inspired to do the things that you have set out to accomplish for the day. A lot of time passes by when we are just mindlessly scrolling on social media; we should learn to use this tool wisely and in moderation.

How has social media affected you? Do you take breaks from it? what ways can you use social media positively? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Remember to like, share, and subscribe to stay in touch with what is going on at Let's Talk Nation! Thank you for taking time out to read this article.

Originally published on Thrive Global

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