The Yachtie Glow: by Stew Angela Orecchio
There is nothing inherently wrong with social media; it can be an excellent tool for checking in with family and friends, a place to share creativity and promote small businesses. When not used consciously and with limits, however, it can rob us of productivity, creativity, time to reflect and real-life moments with the people in our lives.
The more we use social media, the easier it is to let virtual connections become prominent in our lives, perhaps even more so than our real-life connections. Virtual connections require less risk and energy, but they are not as satisfying or rewarding as real-life connections. Ultimately, we remember our lives through memories of shared moments, laughter and physical closeness.
We should ask ourselves how many hours we spend connecting online and how many hours we spend with people offline. Are we putting ourselves out there to create real-life memories?
Here are some points to consider.
Addiction and loss of control
We keep coming back to social media because it has been designed to connect to the reward system in our brain. When we expect a reward – such as validation, “likes” and excitement – dopamine is released in the brain, and it compels us to do it again and again. We’re also hard-wired to seek connection with others. This is why we find ourselves staying up late scrolling, liking and commenting. It’s why we have FOMO (fear of missing out) when we’re offline for awhile.
If we instinctively turn to social media to fill every moment we’re not engaged in something else, if we find it difficult to consciously put it down until a predetermined time, then we might want to consider what control social media has over us.
Comparison and expectations
Comparing ourselves with others and fantasizing is a part of being human. Part of what drives social media is the ability to create avatars of ourselves, only sharing photos and stories that show us in the best light. It’s important to remember that we don’t know how much effort, acting, choreography, lighting, makeup and time went into someone else’s post. No one’s life, body, family and moments are perfect all the time.
When we have unrealistic expectations and compare ourselves in an unhealthy way, it can affect our self-esteem and contribute to anxiety and depression. By being aware that social media is essentially only snippets of edited versions of people’s lives, we can take control of how we relate to it.
We can also delete certain social media apps or “friends” if they only encourage comparison and do not contribute to enhancing our lives.
Interference with productivity
Social media may be the ultimate time waster. Hours, even days, can quickly pass as we watch YouTube videos, post perfect photos of our food and comment on our Facebook feed. Even if we are using social media to be creative or build a business, to be truly productive we should stay aware of how much time we spend on any one area of our lives. We can limit social media time by deleting apps from our phones or designating certain times to use it.
Peace of mind and health
Being present, breathing, reflecting and daydreaming are all part of having a healthy mind and body. If we’re not careful, social media can fill the moments of our day in which we would otherwise be able to relax and reflect.
We must remember that it’s the quiet moments in which we find clarity and peace. This could include meditation, journaling, yoga or just being present by breathing in the moment.
Also, staring at our screens for long periods can contribute to a multitude of health problems by affecting our eyes, our posture and our sleep patterns.
By limiting our time on social media, being aware of how it affects us, and making real-time relationships our No. 1 priority, we can engage with social media in a healthy way. Instead of controlling our lives, it can be a fun and positive tool that allows us to play in a virtual world.
Angela Orecchio is a chief stew, certified fitness instructor and health coach. Comments are welcome below.