Take a social media sabbatical for your health
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
According to We Are Social's "Digital in 2017" report, the number of social media users has increased by 21 percent since 2015. "More than 1 billion now people use Facebook every day, meaning that more than half of all active Facebook users use the service on a daily basis," the report said.
It's not slowing down either. In fact, the report stated that "roughly 8 percent of the world's entire population started using mobile social media in the past 12 months, at a rate of more than 18 new users every second."
And though it may be a great tool for individuals to share their voices, it's breaking us down, one by one. In fact, multiple studies have shown that social media sites have been linked to psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. The connection between mental health and social media use was considered controversial in previous years, but it's becoming to be more and more true as we go through this social life.
A couple years ago, I quit social media as part of my Lenten promise. It was such a refreshing experience that I decided to take it on again this spring. Little did I know, though, that this year's end result would be much different.
As friends got frustrated with not being able to tag me in specific mediums, I had to explain that it was for Lent and that I'd return on Easter. From there, an entire conversation spurred.
"Oh my goodness! How are you doing with it? Do you miss it?"
To which I exclaimed that, "No, I don't miss it at all. As I've noticed from previous promises, it's quite refreshing."
In fact, it opened up a whole new realm of space — space to think, to be alone with my thoughts, to explore. The space created a happier and healthier me, without any distractions.
After Lent passed and Easter arrived, I didn't think twice about downloading the apps back onto my phone. However, later that night I quickly reversed my decision and deleted my accounts permanently.
What changed, you ask?
As I was scrolling down the feeds of each medium, I instantly felt a negative vibe wash over me. I can't tell you why it happened, but it did. Maybe looking at a million selfies wasn't what I wanted to spend my time doing, or maybe it was because I realized it had zero effect on my life. I have bigger and better things to worry about.
Now, don't get me wrong. Finding out that April the giraffe finally gave birth to a new calf was exciting, but social media still wasn't doing much for me.
"It's easy to get caught up in that 'grass is greener' mindset through Facebook," said Ronnie Richard, MultiBriefs publication manager. "Everyone's lives look so perfect when they filter out the bad and only post the good."
We look at how many pictures we can post and schedule what and when the next one will be, but we don't look at what the effect of social media has on our mental health. Doing this is only causing individuals to critically compare themselves to others based on the successes and failures of what's being posted — thus resulting in diminishing self-esteem.
Think about it. Have you ever seen a post that resulted in a negative "I" statement, such as:
- I will never be able to be like that person.
- Why can't I do that?
- What's wrong with me that I don't have that in my life?
Self-esteem isn't the only thing being affected by social media. A new study published in the Harvard Business Review confirmed that all the scrolling, liking and sharing we do has a negative impact on our well-being.
"The results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year," according to the study. "We found consistently that both liking others' content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health and life satisfaction."
If you haven't tried taking a break from social media, I definitely recommend it. You'll be astonished at how different you'll feel each day.
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