Let me preface this entire rant by saying that I am just as guilty of being addicted to receiving validation from social media as the average person.
What social media has done to us…
I think it's safe to say that many of us are just downright sick of social media. Recently, I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone; this wasn't the first time. The first day there were a few times when I mindlessly picked up my device to waste time and caught myself looking for the app that was no longer there. After two or three days, though, I began to enjoy a new feeling of calmness and clarity.
The quiet slowly permeated my entire being until I no longer felt a desire to scroll through social media. It's not just the fact that I no longer see the highlights of everyone's lives but I'm also not seeing re-posts of bad news, copy and paste chain mail statuses, or funny cat videos. A month later, I still don't miss the time I spent on social media.
In the past, I have deactivated my Facebook account only to find that I needed it to log into separate and unrelated apps or websites. After a while the frustration caused me to reactivate my account. I have gone through my “friends” list and culled several hundred “friends” that I have never met and some that I even wondered how I became friends with in the first place. On a side note, now Facebook does have the option of listing some friends as “acquaintance” so that you may post things to “friends except acquaintances.”
A strange thing happens when you take a break from social media. You find out who your real-life friends are. They are the ones who text, call, email or show up to see where you've been. I don't suggest doing this as an experiment, much like the “copy and paste” status, “if you care about me jump through this hoop and tell me with one word how we met” or else you're-not-my-real-friend-crap that wastes space all over Facebook, it reeks of desperation.
A portion of the time I spend on social media is denying requests from a bunch of games I don't want to play. Are you honestly that bored?
I'd rather see my friends in person once a month than to read the highlights of their life scattered on a wall among all the other clutter shared on their wall every day. Maybe it's just me.
Social media also causes social discord. The biggest misunderstandings in friendships that I have ever experienced have been from a Facebook status. It's so easy to misinterpret words when there is no tone or to draw conclusions from a hastily written status.
There are two kinds of people on social media: The Stalker and The Liker. The Stalker scrolls through everything just looking, lurking in the shadows never leaving a trace of their presence. The Liker goes through giving everything they see a thumbs up, heart-ing and wow-ing all the stuff their friends are sharing. Being a blogger, I know that many of us put our self-worth in line with how many likes and followers we have. How much do we need to be validated by someone clicking the like button?!
Beyond a doubt, I have friends who “like” what I post out of a sense of obligation without even reading the post. Certainly, I have “liked” other people's posts out of the same sense of obligation. I have even shared posts out of the same sense of obligation. What a web of lies we have spun in the name of socializing!
Face the truth
If you are scrolling through social media, chances are you are not doing something else. Why is that? Perhaps it is because scrolling is a form of procrastination. There is a reason why as much as 40% of businesses block social media in the workplace. Scrolling through social media hinders productivity.
More than half of employees waste an hour or more at work every day, and social media has become their second-biggest time waster (after news sites). One-third of the U.S. workforce uses social media for at least an hour each workday.
Social media can also disrupt workflow. Nearly half of all employees get interrupted at least every 15 minutes, and almost 60 percent of these interruptions involve digital tools such as social networks or switching back and forth between windows.
On average, a single wasted hour each day can cost companies $10,375 in lost productivity per person each year — and for businesses with 1,000 employees, the cost of interruptions can exceed $10 million per year. (source)
You have probably noticed that social media tends to prevent you from actually focusing on the people right next to you, but have you noticed it keeps you from focusing on yourself? Maybe that is why studies report that people who spend the most time on social media are the least satisfied with their life. Studies show spending more time on social media often means being less content with circumstances, a lowered self-esteem, and increased feelings of anxiety.
Outside of my family members, there are about four people whose birthday's I know by heart. That's because I keep a tight circle of friends in real life. I think someone who is a dear friend deserves more than a Facebook Status wishing them Happy Birthday.
What you could be doing instead
Have you ever just went to check your notifications “real quick” and a few hours later looked up and realized you have wasted the last two hours on videos of people making desserts with Oreos and dogs doing tricks?
Just think of all the things you could do with that hour you spent scrolling through comments strangers left on the last Mannequin Challenge.
How about these for starters:
- Read a book
- Get out in nature
- Learn photography (with a camera!)
- Learn to knit, crochet, sew or do woodworking
- Play a round of Catan, Scrabble, Chess or whatever game you like
- Learn a new language
- Plan a trip
- Take that trip
- Learn an instrument
- Visit a museum
- Go on a coffee date
- Take a One-Tank Road Trip, explore a small town near you
- Try a new recipe
- Do your chores!
Just do something. Anything. Doing a small thing is better than doing nothing. Doing something is better than scrolling!
More social media lies and secrets
Back when my oldest child was about twelve years old, I recall one of my closest friends finding out her daughter had a secret MySpace account. We spent a while scrolling through her feed with a sick feeling in our stomachs. I think many of us as parents have discovered our child had a secret social media account because unfortunately, it is just too easy for kids to lie to obtain one.
Some surveys suggest more than 80% of children lie about their age to use sites like Facebook. Surprised? Maybe the bigger problem is that the social media sites do not intend to monitor the ages of their users.
Facebook and other social networks have always claimed that it is difficult—or “almost impossible”—to identify a child, and therefore they can’t actively implement and police their own rules. But let’s think about this for a moment. When a kid opens up a Facebook account, the first thing he or she typically does is put up a profile photograph, and then “friend” a bunch of schoolmates who are usually the same age. They go on to post comments about school, classmates, and extracurricular activities. If you can’t figure out that these kids are 9 or 10, you aren’t very smart. They are constantly providing photographic evidence of their age. (source)
Say it to my face
Rude comments don't happen to me that often, but I see it on other posts quite a bit. It's surprising to me what people will say online that I doubt they would say in person. Let's face it, saying something rude, obnoxious, insulting or mean takes less courage online than it would face to face. I'll never forget the first rude and meaningless comment someone left on my blog. My 10-year-old son still knows the username by heart! Words can hurt people.
My oldest son schooled me on “Trolls” – people who comment with the sole purpose of upsetting or offending the other people involved. These Trolls will lie, exaggerate, or offend with their comments just to evoke a response. Is this really what we have come to as a society?
My motto is: “Don't' feed the trolls.” In other words, don't respond. Mostly trolls are seeking attention, so the best way to deal with them is not to respond! If it's not in your nature to ignore a rude comment, try killing them with kindness or diffusing them with humor.
Filth and Addictions
Instagram has lost its appeal for many of us. The sponsored posts, algorithms, and innocent hashtags that lead to porn photos made it a place I went to less and less. Certainly, this has caused me to reconsider allowing my teenagers to participate in social media.
On Snapchat after a couple of days of communicating back and forth with a friend users get “streaks” and each day Snapchat keeps track of streaks. After the streaks start to add up there is a desire to keep them going. When users fail to communicate in a 24 hour period the streaks are lost. How perfect is that to keep users coming back on a daily basis? It's no wonder we're addicted.
I wish I had the answer. For me, part of the solution is to simply stop checking my notifications more than once per day. That means keeping it off my phone. It also means consciously putting away my phone camera during activities so that I can be more present with the ones around me as opposed to sharing the moment with the ones who are not present.
I have only been doing this for a month or so. Not having the apps on my phone has made me more aware of how often I pick up my phone for no real reason at all.
If you want an eye-opening experience try installing an app on your computer such as Rescue Time to monitor how much time you spend on certain websites. It's free and you might be surprised how much time you could actually redeem.
Ironically, you may have stumbled across this post on social media. Why not put down your phone right now and pick up a good book or meet a friend for coffee instead? Happy living!