Have you ever picked up your cell phone to perform a specific task, then spend 10-15 minutes on the phone. And when you locked it afterward, noticed you hadn’t done the assignment you wanted to complete? Nowadays, it’s easy to get stuck scrolling your Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube feed. It’s easy to lose yourself in your email box. Or to end up wasting too much time on WhatsApp or Telegram chats. I believe a quote by Wiliam Shakespeare to highlight it well.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

– Shakespeare (1564-1616)

The problem is not social media itself, as we can acquire a few perks from it. It’s our use and perceptions of it. I’m confident we can all benefit from limited screen time. And if you’re raising an eyebrow at me from a distance now – after examining this blog post, you might agree. 

Positive Aspects

To start, let’s begin by depicting the “pros” of social media.

For many of us, it has been a stimulus – at least once. There are accounts with appealing content on virtually every topic: food, lifestyle, veganism, photography, DIY ideas, homemade skincare, to name a few. You could promptly learn more about a new matter by merely using social networks. 

Many users enjoy platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, etc. as it allows them to express themselves, do art, moreover utter their creativity.

It can serve as a motivation. Primarily if we’ve found a person, we look up to or regard as a role model. 

Apps like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube can also help us stay in touch with friends abroad. Connect us with like-minded people, and allow us to socialize with friends.

Many news platforms have social media accounts so that one might utilize apps previously specified for educational and informatory purposes.

Despite the criticism around advertisements on social platforms, you could discover new valuable products, potentially enjoyable for you.

Finally, even if you haven’t been born into exceptional circumstances like prominency, social media could theoretically help you obtain significant reach and name recognition.

To put in a nutshell, we can use social media as a source of inspiration, motivation, for educational means, as a news and information platform. It moreover enables us to stay in touch with friends, connect with people following similar interests. To share our art and thoughts on a topic relevant to us, plus to identify potentially enjoyable products.

Negative Aspects

Wow, that was a hell of a list on positives. It’s not all sunshine and roses, though, as we’ll establish in the following.

Social networks are addictive.

Hence why platforms like Facebook have an age restriction of 16. This excerpt from the Addiction Center’s website summarizes everything you should know.

“Social media platforms {…} produce the same neural circuitry that is caused by gambling and recreational drugs to keep consumers using their products as much as possible. Studies have shown {…} retweets, likes, and shares {…} have affected the brain’s reward area to trigger the same kind of chemical reaction as other drugs, such as cocaine. In fact, neuroscientists have compared social media interaction to a syringe of dopamine being injected straight into the system.”

Jena Hilliard on “Social Media Addiction”
Features like infinite scroll increase the likelihood to browse your social feed mindlessly.

As a result, our generation swallows an average of 3.5 hours of screen time. Without a doubt, we misuse the valuable time of our day. Have you ever made the “I don’t have time to …” excuse? Whether it is in regards to working out, learning a new skill, or starting a business. We could undoubtedly accomplish more. If only we were to use our phones more mindfully.

Moreover, according to recent findings, we pick up our phones 58 times a day, on average. Many find it challenging to concentrate while having their phones around because we expect to be interrupted. Hence why apps like “Forest” are a success and gain increasing popularity with 70.000 downloads and counting.

Platforms like Instagram can be a source of comparison and might trigger hurtful thought patterns.

I arranged a survey on my account, on which 90% revealed social networks had left them feeling crappy at some point.

Unquestionably, this has to do with the fact that what you see on social networks is not real. Let’s repeat this once more. Social media does not reflect reality. Generally speaking, everyone shows their best side and shares only positive and exciting moments. I’m aware that’s not always the case, although examining Influencers with a noteworthy following emphasizes that superficiality sells best.

What’s more important, however, is that photographs are heavily polished. You’d never expect as profoundly edited pictures as in the fashion industry. But for many creatives, that is the case indeed. Programs like Photoshop, FaceTune, Snapseed have made changing one’s body shape or facial features accessible to almost everyone. 

In short, the substantially edited pictures on social platforms support an unhealthy and unrealistic beauty ideal. Thus can result in an unhealthy body image, low self-esteem for some individuals. Besides, it is a potential factor for developing or perpetuating eating disorders.

Another striking argument is that through the continuous need for sharing life’s best moments, you’re less present to enjoy them undividedly.

Combine that with the more or less socially acceptable habit of phubbing – we’ve probably all been guilty of, and our friendships plus romances may suffer as well.

To complete this list of negatives, we must touch on privacy. If you think about it, what you share on social platforms is available to everyone. That’s frightening. How can we assess if what we’re sharing is too much and conceivably career-damaging? If we ever change our minds about a particular topic, we cannot be sure to revoke explicit data.

Advertisements can be helpful in a way as we’ve determined. On the other hand, it is often impossible to know which ads to trust. And whether influencers genuinely appreciate a product or share it for commercial benefit. Sometimes it’s barely distinguishable whether a post is a product placement or not.

What does that mean for us

In summary, there are a few problems we face concerning social networks. Apps like Instagram are highly addictive; they distract us and regain our attention through notifications. They are subsequently leading us to spend more time on the app than initiated and not infrequently hinder us from living in the present moment. The perfect world on social media can be depressing for some, provokes comparison, which often makes us feel bad about ourselves. On top of that, we’re encouraged to share private data with a bunch of strangers. Last but not least, it can be difficult to discern whether an advertisement is frivolous or fruitful. 

On that score, I believe it is essential to raise awareness of the troublesome aspects of social networks. They can be detrimental, especially for younger users, but later in life, we should still scrutinize our consumption of them. 

What do you use social media for, and do the positives outweigh the benefits for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject and whether you could relate to my depiction of the story.

Following this column, I’m planning to write another blog post on “A mindful approach to Social Media”. It’s intended to detect how we can reduce screen time, boost productivity, and eliminate or at least limit the adverse effects we get from social networking. Once I’ve finished it, I’ll link it here.

Thanks for reading!

Love,

Niki (@nutriousniki)

About Author

Niki is a 22-year-old dentistry student from Germany. She loves to inform herself on nutrition and shares healthy vegan recipes with her followers on Instagram.

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8 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this blogpost ! It’s so important to see the pro’s and con’s of social media and be aware of them! <3
    Lots of love!!
    Nadine

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