The Way We Use Social Media – Negative, Positive or Shades of Grey?

social media negative positive
| Opinion > Love and Life

 

The average US adult checks their phone 150 times a day. It’s not a question of cutting out social media – it’s more a question of reflecting on how you use it.

You’re stood alone in a public place, what do you do? You draw out the ultimate weapon against looking like a loner – the smartphone.

The American adult checks their phone every 6.5 minutes on average, a total of 150 times a day. I go out with my closest friends but we are closer to a screen than each other. Over 80% of young adults report texting as their primary method of contacting friends. Social interaction has become sharing a funny meme to someone 20 miles away. Why not the person a foot away from me? All around me, I see circles of young adults doing exactly the same thing.

For how long have we been seeing the world through a screen? The infinite app store keeps us infinitely entertained, making physical interaction seem less vital. More importantly, we desire to impress our peers using social media. In fact, since the 1950s, the number of friends the average American has is steadily declining while the amount of floor space in their homes steadily increases.

Social media sells constant connection but a study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine showed that participants who use social media frequently are 2.7 times more likely to have depression. Our addiction to perfection – the only way you are permitted to present yourself on the internet –  encourages this.

So, what can you do? You can give yourself time every day to think about how you are using social media. If you have depression, or live in a situation where you can feel isolated, then that social media usage can aid your wellbeing, not detract from it. It can provide valuable resources, entertainment, and support. It can be an important part of self-care. If you check the phone just because it’s there, and find an hour has gone and your soul doesn’t feel in any way nourished, step back for a moment. Think about what you’ve absorbed in that hour, and if there’s something else you’d rather be doing and are able to do. Think about what you, personally, would change about your social media use if you could.

There are productive applications that can help you control your usage time, to . One that I can personally recommend is flipd; you set a timer and all entertainment apps on your phone are blocked until the blocking period has ended. It’s useful for study and so much more. A simpler way to track your usage time is to keep count of how many times you open a social media site in a notepad. Perhaps you will notice a few you need to cut back on, then try use that time more meaningfully.

It would be nigh-impossible to cut out social media entirely: human beings crave community. No longer do we meet in town halls; instead, we gather online to reach out to each other from all over the world. If you are depressed and feeling like you are tied to your bed, a community accessible through your phone can be essential to reminding you that you are not alone. It can remind you that even though you don’t fit into a peer group near you, you fit in somewhere.

Relationships through the internet are exactly like relationships in real life. If the relationship is unhealthy, you need not be in it, but the relationship is healthy, it’s worth cultivating.

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