It is certainly not unchartered waters, the misery that social media can cause day in day out. Firstly, it is addictive. Receiving attention via social media platforms such as comments, likes, we know the drill - has scientifically been proven to produce dopamine in your brain, so yes, your innocent iPhone can become like a class A drug, no joke. It’s weird to think about, but studies have also shown that it can be such an ego ‘boost’ that the average person can spend more time a day scrolling than eating, drinking and socialising combined. That is scary but true. The entice is real and with the rapid development of video apps, online dating, etc, the pull is only getting stronger. Simply get on any form of public transport and look up from your device for a split second, every single person surrounding you will have their eyes glued down to a screen, we have become slaves to it and this is provoking unhealthy behaviour, social skills and a breakdown in human communication.
One of the core elements of social media is the constant comparison factor. Being exposed to the ins and outs of anyone’s daily life, from Beyonce to your neighbour’s cousin twice removed, is genuine torture. It doesn’t really matter who they are because in truth, it is only a reel of their highlights. I want to point out that we do all know this, because we all do the same. We don’t share our crap mornings spilling coffee, getting our period or forgetting our gym shoes. What is shared is cocktails with the girls, beach sunsets and date night. Fair does, why not play along with that, it makes sense. However this persistent vulnerability of your life and everyone else’s plays havoc on our psyche as it is a warped sense of reality - feeding our brain information on what we should be doing, wearing, seeing etc. It can be hard to tell after a while that no, not everyone is living that way 24/7. Again we do know this, but bizarrely at the same time we forget.
The comparison game also leads to the ugly green-eyed monster, that doesn’t look good on anyone. I can’t tell you how many relationships I have seen suffer under the influence of social media, it is mad. I am guilty too. Even the most confident people can crumble when they see their significant other liking some ‘other’ girls photo, it is classic but doesn’t make the feeling any less horrid and we have all been there. Social media has the power to dilute trust, even push people to invent scenarios in their heads, or worse, actually slide into their DM’s....
OK, so shock horror, social media can be sh*t. BUT, it is not all doom and gloom. It can also be an incredible way to connect to people globally, a platform to meet people you wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise. There is tons of inspiration out there too, creativity spilling out, awesome communities supporting each other and not to mention a million cute puppy videos to watch. But, managing your mental health and general sanity around it are key, I have a few tips as a non-expert, just your run of the mill social media user (a 20 something-year-old girl, so yes you could call me an expert). Firstly, take a break. You can disable accounts, which means nothing is gone forever, but you can just disappear for a bit, think of it as a little social media vacay. You actually don’t need to know what everyone else is doing all the time, you realise how much time you spend mindlessly scrolling and how quickly you don't miss it once it is gone. Bonus is, your battery life will thank you. Secondly, turn on screen time, seeing the hours you waste added up daily will push you to want to make some serious changes. Get up, get out, nothing is better for anxiety than good company, fresh air or just some time for yourself. It is healthy to find ways to get off our phones, out of our heads and back to basics.