You should delete your social media. Why? Because despite its insistence, social media is not your friend. It pretends to be, providing a bubble of hundreds of “friends” that “like” everything you do and “share” everything from their own “real” lives. Platforms like Instagram even give you access to millions of people outside of your bubble, some that may have similar lives and interests, and others that may be living a life you secretly wished you had.
Recent numbers suggest that two-thirds of U.S. adults use Facebook, and three-quarters of those users access the platform every day. The BBC reported that nearly 40 percent of the world’s population uses social media, spending an average of two hours per day on various platforms. Clearly people are attached to social media, but is it doing more harm than good?
Social media tricks you by its very name; the term social implies that there is some kind of human interaction happening, but in reality this is not as true as we might like to believe. Interaction on these social platforms is limited, mediated, and often deceptive, and the ability to “socialize” and communicate from behind the safety of a screen may have an effect on emotional intelligence, empathy, attention span, and real-life social skills. What’s more, social media has been linked to a many issues including depression, mood swings, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, and sleep disturbances.
If you have experienced any of these issues as a direct effect of social media, than you may already be thinking about deleting it. But if you don’t think these apply to you, then consider these other reasons for deleting social media.
Social media takes time away from more important things
Have you ever found yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook when you could be doing something else? Maybe you zone out of a conversation with a friend, ignore your kids after too many hours of listening to them play, or stare at your phone when you take your dog to the park. Or perhaps, as you enjoy a gorgeous day at the beach or a family vacation, you find yourself instinctively reaching for your phone to share a curated photo of the experience. Whether you’re on vacation, at a restaurant, or laying on the couch, chances are there are people and things around you that you could be paying attention to.
It’s estimated that people check their phones nearly 50 times per day, and some studies suggest that even having a phone visible during a conversation can hinder social intimacy. Imagine what all that wasteful screen time is doing to your relationships and experiences! While totally unplugging isn’t entirely realistic in today’s technologically-dependent world, deleting social media is one easy way to eliminate unnecessary screen time.
Social media use sets a bad example for children
If you have children and you are also spending time scrolling through social media, your children will eventually imitate you. Research has shown that children across every culture and socioeconomic background “over-imitate” the adults around them. This imitation is amplified in Western culture where parents and adults are constantly showing children how to do things. So, even when parents stop telling their kids what to do, their kids are still prone to imitate what they see. If you are scrolling through Facebook on your laptop after dinner, or looking at your phone when the kids are playing, this sets both an example and a precedence of what is acceptable behavior. If you don’t want your kids’ heads buried in a screen, then get your head out of yours.
Social media is purposely designed to be addictive
Do you ever feel like you just can’t help yourself from checking your social media? That’s because the engineers who built these platforms have purposely designed them to be additive. It’s been reported that many features of social media including “liking”, scrolling, notifications, and tagging, were built with the intention of keeping users hooked and coming back for more. Social media is a billion dollar business for companies like Instagram and Facebook, and the more time you spend on it, the more revenue they make. Officially creeped out yet?
Social media facilitates sex trafficking
This probably doesn’t apply to many Daily Mom readers, but reports indicate that there are nearly 4.5 million sex trafficking victims across the globe. These vulnerable people are oftentimes young women and children, who are now more frequently exploited by the tools of technology and social media. Social media allows the criminals that coerce and sell these victims to advertise “merchandise” more easily, and it provides predators with private access to purchase these victims from the safety of their own homes.
The FBI has reported that nearly every single social networking site is being used to recruit and exploit sex trafficking victims. The next time you scroll by nameless faces on the internet, it’s worth remembering that social media isn’t all entertainment and networking. Some of those faces behind the profile pictures may be victims of human trafficking, and social media sites are aiding in their captivity.
When we die, do we want to remember our lives by the time we spent staring at pointless pictures on the internet? Social media provides no real benefit to mental, emotional, intellectual, social, or spiritual well being. Life is short, and incredibly precious, and should be spent with the people we love, soaking up real memories. Being mindful about what really matters can be difficult to practice all of the time, but deleting social media is a great way to start.
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Sources: SFGate , Polaris , European Commission , BBC News , Journal of Accountancy , Research Digest , Institute for Health and Human Potential , Pew Research Center , Science Magazine