In our world today, there are many social media platforms that we utilize consistently. These platforms include Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. According to research and sources, the average person has five social media accounts and spends about 1 hour and 40 minutes per day on social media, accumulating to over 5 years in a lifetime (Telegraph). That’s a lot of time spent on social media, which can be seen as either beneficial or a mere distraction.
In this article, I want to tackle the topic of how social media affects our daily lives. Throughout our lifetime, social media plays a big part in helping our careers and growing our network. Using platforms such as LinkedIn for online networking and career branding may ultimately leverage a person’s capabilities and opportunities. We see people post about their accomplishments, news updates, and job opportunities as statuses to inform their network. It’s a great way of staying in the loop regarding what a person is up to.
However, I want to go into the deeper issue on how social media can turn into an addiction; this addiction, like smoking or picking your nails, is hard to stop. A few weeks ago, I observed a group of friends hanging out in a social setting. It was the first time they had seen each other in awhile, as I overheard they hadn’t seen each other in years. Although they seemed like they were going to eat dinner to catch up, I saw that each person was on their phone. I could overhear them talking about what “Dan from high school posted on Facebook 26 minutes ago” and how “Julie from college got so many likes on her picture”. They had dinner for the same time we were there, which was an hour, and were on their phone for almost 75% of the time except when they were eating.
It’s crazy how for only a few minutes, a person cannot go without looking at their phone; I’ve tried it myself, and sometimes I even go crazy. You feel like you’re missing out on the world, like you’re disconnected from your friends, but in reality, you aren’t missing much. If you feel this way where you can’t be away from your phone for a small fraction of time, you are probably addicted; in fact, most of the world is.
In turn, how do we get rid of these addictions to social media and instead live in the moment? Here are some ways that could be beneficial:
- Afterhours on Social Media: If you had parents like me in high school, they would take away your phone at 10:00PM and leave it in their room. I always thought that I was missing out on something or that my friends would think of me differently, but later on, I realized that my parents were looking out for me. It helps you get a good night sleep. It doesn’t get you thinking why Mary posted that subtweet at 2:30AM and whether it’s for you or not. It’s very hard to do but is ultimately beneficial to your sleep and mind. Instead, have an alternative. Maybe take 30 minutes at this time to read a book you’re interested in. Listen to a podcast regarding a topic you’ve wanted to learn more about. Your phone can wait till the morning.
- Set Limits: As previously stated, we spend hours of our day on social media; however, the scary part is we aren’t even aware of this. Although we may check our social media accounts briefly for a few seconds or minutes at a time, it accumulates into hours and ultimately becomes a distraction. For example, you might be doing research on a project and had planned to finish in an hour, but then got distracted because you went on Facebook which then turned into watching a funny video for 30 minutes and then now you have to push that project back for some time. Have limits in which you don’t use social media for a specific amount of time throughout the day, and you’ll be productive which then turns into results. Set time goals when to accomplish specific tasks, whether it is for work or school.
- Phone Use During Family Gatherings: Whether these instances be at lunch, dinner, or visiting your grandparents, try to stay away from using your phone (unless you’re taking pictures with loved ones, now those are great memories). When you’re able to put your phone away during these gatherings, you’re able to catch up with family members and have meaningful conversations. Your friends will understand that family comes first, and sometimes you’ll never know when you’ll see them again, so it’s important to cherish those moments.
- Actually “Catch-up” with Friends: When spending time with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile, whether it is getting food at a restaurant or being in a social setting, live in that moment with them. Ask them questions on how they have been, whether it is regarding their career, socially, or life in general. Your phone and other friends can wait; the person you are hanging with took out some of their time to hang out with you, so give them your attention and listen. You never know if this could even lead to an opportunity, whether it is regarding your career or maybe plan in the future to travel.
- The Social Media Facade: Just because a friend you know has been to Singapore 5 times, has 1,000 likes on their recent Instagram post, has a new car, and posts their incredible gains from cryptocurrency doesn’t mean their life is perfect and everything is going well. Sometimes, we see posts on various social media platforms that seem like a person’s life is perfect, and it translates to your own mood; you question yourself and ask “what am I doing with my life?”. I have been a victim of this myself, but in turn, everyone has their own life. Nobody’s life is perfect. We all have faults and love to post about the positive things for people to see, so don’t worry about not having a perfect life. All things will eventually fall into place as long as you put the work in.
In conclusion, social media is an addiction, whether it be in a positive or negative light. We think about what’s going on in the online world all the time. But think about this: In the 1700s, how did people communicate or stay up-to-date with each other? They had alternatives that had more meaning. They wrote letters or met up with one another to catch up. They didn’t hide behind a screen and say “let’s catch up sometime” and never did. This is why it’s important to transition hat online conversation into an in-person one. You can show your emotions and passions, which then can create connections and relationships that last a lifetime. Then later on, you can update them not just through email but also through a thank you letter or update. It’s old school, but they’ll appreciate it. I know my grandparents would.