The internet is not going anywhere—there is no doubt that it’s an essential part of our lives. The online world can make our lives more convenient. It gives us the means to communicate efficiently, purchase anything we want, and access our favorite forms of entertainment with a click of a button.
However, like most tools, the internet can help or hurt us, depending on how we use it.
When I was using social media compulsively, it had many more hurtful qualities than helpful ones. Apps such as Snapchat and Instagram were especially hurtful to me and people I knew when we used them without limits. When using them that way, it was hard to resist the feeling that other people’s opinions are extremely important. This attitude toward social media has caused many young adults to live with Instagram constantly in the back of their minds, with every other thought being what they should post next. That’s obsessional use.
Instagram was the most harmful platform for me, because I allowed it to create a world of unrealistic expectations. I was always motivated to put my best foot forward, whether that meant only posting the prettiest selfies or purposely featuring all my most expensive items in one picture. Many compulsive Instagram users see the best side of everyone else, and in turn, they will try to show only their own best sides.
This one-sided way of using Instagram caused a cycle of unrealistic images, which eventually harmed me because I couldn’t keep up with everyone else’s photos. I have seen social media cause people to question their self-esteem based on a photo or post that might not show the whole picture or situation.
Using Instagram and other apps can become compulsive, where your brain is primed to open it every couple of minutes.
The instant gratification that social media gave me prevented me from looking at the bigger picture of how it could be bad for my mental health. Even if we are aware that being on social media for half our day is unhealthy, we may overlook this hurtful aspect and continue anyway.
These are just a few of the problems I have experienced with social media.
I think that social media can be good if it’s used in ways that are not obsessive—that have better limits and more awareness. But when I used social media, I wasted so much of my time. I invested hours of my days mindlessly scrolling through my phone, which made me feel pretty bad about myself most of the time.
About a year ago, I deleted all my social media accounts. Since then, I have been so much more productive and I feel that the quality of my life has increased.
I am not suggesting that everyone delete all their social media accounts. I’m recommending that the next time you scroll through Instagram or watch Snapchat stories, maybe really think about the attitudes with which you’re using social media, and whether those attitudes are harming you.
Here are some links to help us establish better attitudes toward our use of social media:
The Healthy Use of Social Media—this article includes tips on:
- Using critical thinking skills to evaluate the quality of information
- Recognizing the agendas of the content creators
- Learning skills that enable creativity and self-expression
- Learning how to monitor your own attitudes about why you’re using certain apps
What are your own attitudes when you open your social media apps? What strategies do you use to put your social media accounts to good use? Can you add to the list of tips for resisting the possible unhealthy habits of social media?