Social media has become an imperative, and an unavoidable, part of our lives. It’s the first thing we check when we get up and the last thing we look at before going to sleep. Social networking platforms like Instagarm, Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Youtube, Facebook, TikTok, moj Reddit, Google, Pinterest, Tumblr and Linkedin, provide us with means to share our life experiences. The rapid growth of social media over the last few decades has changed the channel of human interaction as it has become the main source of information consumption for everybody.
These social media platforms started out as a simple way for people to connect and to acquire information easily. But lately, these very platforms have become more complex and elaborate means with more intentions other than just connecting people. Social media sites enable people to communicate and stay connected with each other, spread awareness about significant matters and express their opinions. It has undoubtedly helped in making meaningful and systematic changes like providing extensive access to opportunities and services, reuniting lost family members, spreading awareness about important issues etc.
In today’s world, everyone loves to connect with each other on social media. Having easy access to social networking platforms enables us for the most part, to:
- Communicate and stay up to date with family members and friends around the world.
- Find new communities and networks with other people who share similar interests.
- Promote and raise awareness about serious issues.
- Being able to seek emotional support during tough times.
- Provides an outlet for one’s creativity and self-expression.
- Build productive social relationships.
- Boost the involvement of communities by engaging themselves in a series of positive discussions on certain informative topics.
- Positive reviews and comments can increase a person’s confidence and self-esteem.
However, there is a flip side to all of these positive changes. The documentary on Netflix called the Social Dilemma throws great insight into the capitalist agenda of social media. The documentary speaks to how we are essentially the products for social media, more specifically that our attention is the product that is being bought by advertisers on all of social media. A quote from the series states that social media essentially ensures the “gradual, slight, imperceptible change in your own behaviour and perception”. The documentary speaks to how social media has led to greater polarisation, hate crimes, erosion of democracy, and more. The Social Dilemma is a highly recommend documentary to understand the impact of social media on mental health and on human lives.
Further, it has been proven that social media not only causes addiction, it is also linked to the development of mental health issues like depression, anxiety and low self-esteem which leads to poor sleep and body image concerns, especially in adolescents. As social media use increases, so does its negative impact on individuals. There are many reasons why social media could be linked to increased anxiety and depressive symptoms, negative body image, sleep problems and cyberbullying. Unhealthy social comparison is at the top of its list. We have started to compare ourselves and our lives based on what we see on the highlight reels on Instagram or Snapchat.
Although there are many issues related to social media usage, these issues are preventable. It is possible to avert from spending too much time online by controlling and determining how much one should check their accounts. Here are some simple ways for social media detox:
- Turn off notifications-
Turning off notifications can prevent you from checking your phone unnecessarily, which can save you a lot of time and increase your short term memory span. Turning off notifications also stops you from mindlessly scrolling through these apps.
- Don’t sleep next to your phone-
Stop checking your phone first thing in the morning and right before going to bed. Don’t keep your phone nearby, either keep it in another room or at least away from your bed.
- Stop comparing-
It doesn’t matter what others are doing, what truly matters is what you are doing. There is no need to seek validation by posting everything you do. People don’t need to see or hear everything you do. Sometimes it’s important to keep your personal life private.
- Unplug and unwind-
Take a break from your phone for a couple hours a day to be alone with your thoughts to rejuvenate. Spend some time interacting with family playing board games, going for a walk, reading a book or meditating. Switch off your phone for a couple hours a day.
At Pause for Perspective, we hold conversations about how social media has impacted our daily lives, both the positive and the negative aspects of these platforms. We started our own social media team consisting of our therapists so that our beliefs and opinions can be shared. We are constantly trying to change the voice and face of mental health, trying to deconstruct social norms and normalize mental health and therapy. None of us are digital marketers or from any marketing background.
Usually social media is handled by a marketing agency, but the main vision behind creating our own social media team is for us to represent our voice as informed, mindfulness and narrative based therapists. We don’t simply use these platforms for our recreation. The work that we put out is all done from our hearts. We want our voice to be heard and resonate with others.
“Our voice is a very genuine representation of where we stand as human beings, as people, as mental health practitioners. We too are learning as we go, to be able to serve a community in a way that sustains us”, says our founder Aarathi Selvan.
This post is written by Insha Fatima, our writer.