In the past two decades, social media has not only changed the way we use the internet but it’s also transformed the way we interact with each other personally. But, too much of a good thing can lead to negative consequences. Here are some signs that you may need to unplug from social media.
You’re on It All Day Long
Overusing anything indicates that you might be too reliant on whatever that thing is. This is especially true with social media. Being glued to your screens all day means you’re probably missing out on real-life activities that could bring you more satisfaction than scrolling mindlessly through newsfeeds, comments, and cute cat pictures. Plus, if you’re on social media multiple hours a day, it’s likely distracting you from your work and affecting your performance negatively. And then there’s the physical damage scrolling may do to your eyes due to staring at your phone endlessly.
Likes Are Your Source of Personal Validation
Everyone wants to know that their opinions, experiences, and thoughts mean something to others, and social media provides a way to get near-instant validation of your life. However, chasing the dopamine rush of having scores of interactions on your post can become addicting for some. When likes, comments, and followers become your source of personal validation, it can lead to self-worth issues when you don’t receive the appropriate amount of interactions. Plus, it can also lead to posting more and more often, trying to get even more interactions by posting content you may regret sharing later. If you find yourself obsessing about how many interactions your posts get, you may need to take a break from social media.
Scrolling Makes You Feel Inadequate About Your Life
One of the issues with social media is that what we see on the screen is often not a reflection of real life. People only want to put the best of their lives into the open for the public to see. And tons of features let you enhance things like photos and videos that may give the impression that your life is more interesting and exciting than it is.
However, this has the unfortunate side effect of making some people feel inadequate or undesirable because they compare their own lives to what they think about other people’s lives on social media. Plus, it can lead people to fib about their own lives in an attempt to signal that they’re just as interesting and exciting as their friends. If you’re scrolling through your newsfeeds and feel inferior because your own experiences don’t reflect what you see your peers posting on social media, and you’re making false or exaggerated statements about your life, you may need to step back and reevaluate how you’re using these services.
It’s Making You Angry All the Time
Our friends don’t always have the same opinions about things as we do. Whether that be politics, religion, or even things like TV shows and movies. Plus, the news cycle is a never-ending stream of bad news and terrible things happening around the world. Social media makes it easy to feed our internal outrage machines, and often we don’t know that we’re being manipulated by algorithms and media companies to keep us angry and interacting with their content online. If you’re constantly angry about world events or your friends and family’s opinions about sensitive topics, you may want to consider taking a break from social media. It’s just not worth the stress and strain on your relationships.
You’re Neglecting Your Real Life Relationships
Making new friends on the internet is one of the best things to come out of social media. However, overuse of the service could mean that you neglect real-life relationships, leading to fading friendships, ignored spouses, and estranged children. When you prioritize what’s happening on social media to the things happening in your home, you may need to log off for a while to focus reestablishing close connections with the people who really matter—your in-person friends and family.
We’ve all seen when people share a little too much about their personal lives, problems, relationships, opinions, and more. Often, we come away from a post thinking, “Man, I wish I didn’t know that.” And oversharing often leads to embarrassment, regret, and a sense of public humiliation. If you feel compelled to share every detail of your life, no matter how personal, you may want to step away from the keyboard and reevaluate why you’re doing that and if there’s a more healthy alternative to dumping all your personal problems on the internet.
is the act of reading negative news stories and social media posts for hours on end. The term gained popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic to refer to how many people were consuming news about the deadly virus outbreak. Doomscrolling can lead to many negative outcomes, such as anxiety, helplessness, and hopelessness. Plus, it makes many situations seem worse than they actually are. When you’re in the habit of consuming nothing but bad news and feel like the world is collapsing and there’s no hope for humanity, it might do you some good to take a break from social media and reconnect with the good things going on in the world around you.
It’s Disrupting Your Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important things in our lives. And overusing social media can keep us up late scrolling posts, engaging in conversation, and checking notifications. Plus, light from your smartphone in bed can have a deleterious effect on your sleep quality. If you find yourself up way past your bedtime, have trouble falling asleep, or feel like you’re not getting adequate rejuvenation from your slumber, social media may be part of the problem, and taking a break may be in order.
Tips For Taking a Social Media Break
If you’re encountering one or more of the above circumstances, stepping away from your social media apps for a while is probably a good idea. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your social media break.
Decide how long your break will be: You don’t have to leave social media forever, just long enough for you to get a more realistic perspective on your life and relationships. Social media breaks can be as short as a few hours or as long as months or more, depending on how badly you need the break.
Delete the apps from your phone: You may think that you have the willpower to refrain from using social media without uninstalling the apps from your smartphone. But why take the risk of ruining your break? Removing social media from your phone can help you resist the temptation to check your timeline just once (which may lead to doing it all day again).
Deactivate your accounts: Temporarily shutting down your social media feeds may seem drastic. But it will help with the thoughts that someone may have commented on your posts and that you’re missing something. If your accounts are down, there’s nothing to interact with and nothing to miss. Don’t worry, social media companies let you do this temporarily and come back when your break is over with everything left exactly the way it was when you deactivated.
Block access on your phone and computer: Sometimes the social media habit is hard to tame. And even if you deactivate your accounts and delete apps off your phone, it’s very easy to open the service in a web browser and jump right back into scrolling. Consider blocking access to social media websites on all the devices you use. Granted, this is an extreme step and isn’t as simple as pushing “delete,” but cutting off access can help you through a weak moment during your break.
Make a plan for your new-found free time: You may not realize exactly how much time you’re putting into these apps before you take your break. It’s likely quite a bit; you’ll need to fill that time with something else. You could use that free time to start a new hobby, reconnect with neglected loved ones, get some reading done, or even work out and get fit. Whatever you decide to do with your free time is up to you, but it’s a good idea to have a plan, so you don’t fall back into social media out of boredom.
Let your family and friends know: Social media has become many people’s primary form of communication. If you’re going to take a break, let the people you interact with know before you log off. This will head off any undue concern about why you disappeared. Plus, it’s an opportunity to let them support you in your decision. And you can establish other means of communication like texting, phone calls, or even meeting up in person.
Let yourself come back if you want to: A break is a break; it’s not quitting social media entirely. After you’ve accomplished your social media break, give yourself permission to return with a new perspective and better habits. There’s no shame in celebrating your success. But, if you decide during your break that social media isn’t for you anymore, that’s okay too. Enjoy living in the real world exclusively.
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