As an advocate of science, it’s time for me to say goodbye to social media. Or at least reduce my time spent there and change who I spend it with.
The blog will continue three times a week, as always. I’ve come to enjoy blogging, especially getting to know other bloggers. But social media is different.
I embarked on the journey into Twitter and Facebook specifically for my writing. Instead of giving me the visibility and platform to succeed as an author, I’ve found it stealing my energy, draining my time, and overall, making me unhappy.
I can’t handle the barrage coming at me. People asking me why I didn’t “like” something. The stupid feelings of inadequacy because not enough people like or retweet something I posted.
So. Done. With. It.
Besides, the point of social media was to help my writing, not suck insane amounts of time from me that I should be spending writing. Or with my kids. Or my husband. Heck, cleaning the dust bunnies out of the basement would probably be a better and more fulfilling use of my time.
I figured it was just me feeling this way, but after a little research trying to learn how to overcome these feelings, I learned I am not alone in this. A bit more digging into the multitude of research papers out there shows that social media makes us less happy in a lot of ways. This helped me feel better about my decision.
Here are ten reasons research says why we should let go of social media, or at least reduce it:
Counter-intuitive, perhaps, but studies show that the act of recording something for social media can actually take some of the enjoyment out of doing the thing you’re sharing. Whether it’s snapping a picture of a delicious dessert, or going to the zoo, studies show you will enjoy it less if you immerse yourself in the experience and don’t worry about sharing it with the world.
Perhaps this isn’t so counter-intuitive. Hard to truly enjoy something if you’re trying to get the perfect shot of your cake before you eat it, and are then worrying how many people will “like” your post and if it’ll be seen as “cool” enough.
Research corroborates what most of us know or have witnessed. That parent too busy trying to get the perfect pictures that they don’t enjoy their child’s first birthday. They’re so busy trying to take pictures of all the cool things happening that they don’t participate.
Except, social media takes this so much farther. Suddenly all of life’s events must be documented, and the person doing the documenting is missing out.
I haven’t been on social media long enough to experience this personally, but I ’m not even going to Google how many people died last year taking dangerous selfies. Or what those selfies were.
But think about that. People have died taking selfies.
Rather than focusing on the good moment, the parts of life that enrich us and nourish us, social media can lure us into focusing on the moments that look good. We spend time chasing the Instagram-worthy times and miss out on some of the very best parts.
I can see this happening if you do post a lot on social media. You’ll never see a picture of me snuggled up in the recliner with both of my girls on my lap and all of us still in our jammies. But let me tell you, it’s my favorite part of the weekend when I can get it, and I’m going to miss it desperately when my girls are “too old” to snuggle.
75% of people have admitted to being rude and disconnected because of their phone. This results in later feelings of guilt, regret, disappointment or embarrassment. Here’s a sign posted on a daycare door, per my Facebook friends.
I can’t even imagine . . . I normally have drop-off duty, but when I do get to pick up my girls instead, the joy of their faces makes whatever happened that day melt away. My preschooler can’t wait to tell me about her day, and my toddler is singing momma, momma and clinging to my leg. To miss out on that, for whatever’s on my phone . . . Please, please take a hammer a to my phone first.
6. Social Media Feeds Envy
Particularly Facebook, makes people envious of others. The reason this is particularly true of Facebook is that those in our social network are perceived like us. While you may “follow” JK Rowling or Stephen King or even the President of the United States on Twitter, Facebook tends to be fillwed with people we think of as peers. If all we see are their accomplishments, and never their failures or set-backs, people start to feel lesser about their own achievements.
In a society already inundated with marketers trying to make us feel unworthy unless we buy their product, this is the last thing I need.
Makes me wonder if this related to #4. If all you ever see if other people’s Instagram life, or the special moments they post on Facebook, you may think that’s the entirety of their life. When, in fact, there’s still dishes to do, laundry to fold, and floors to sweep.
My first thought when I read this was that maybe they weren’t doing a solid scientific study. Perhaps lonelier people were naturally drawn to social media. But they’d thought of that and proved that lonelier people aren’t drawn to social media in the first place.
So if you weren’t lonely in the first place, why would experiencing social media make them lonely? There’s some speculation that the lack of deep and meaningful relationships on social media is the driving cause behind this. While social media interactions tend to be more plentiful, they also tend to be more superficial and less fulfilling than other interactions.
Unless, of course, you’re in-person interactions are like those of the parents the daycare posted about.
Even just “lurking” can cause negative emotions. Given that depression is the leading cause of disability in the US for people between the ages of 15 and 44, anything to reduce this disease is desirable.
Of course it’s addictive.There’s a reason why we keep coming back to it over and over again. Companies like Facebook spend a lot of money keeping it that way. They know what lures us on, what keeps us clicking. Social media companies are for profit organizations. They make money by keeping you on their site. They know how to get your brain to give you a hit of that oh so good dopamine, you know, the neurotransmitter involved in pleasure.
It’s why Candy Crush is worth $6 billion. They know how to get you to spend money on a game one step above solitaire. And how to keep you doing it.
Addictive, but boring. I can see this. I’m only half engaged on most social media platforms, anyway. Skimming through feeds, looking for stuff to click “like” on without spending too much time looking at any one thing.
Interestingly, according to the study, boredom is part of what keeps bringing us back.
We’re bored, so might as well check Facebook. We’re still bored, might as well go check Twitter…
How about you? What’s your relationship with Social Media? Do you feel like it enriches your life, or is it a time thief? Maybe somewhere in between? Ever suffer from any of the downsides research has shown us social media has? How did you deal with them?