.. for now at least.
Social media plays a huge part in our daily lives. Probably a lot more than we would care to admit.
Barely a day goes by without us sending a selfie to our friends with a cute filter on Snapchat, or uploading our meals to Instagram.
Our generation has become defined by a culture of likes, tweets and snaps, which can all be very distracting at times. It’s easy to lose focus on what is actually important in life and who our real friends are.
So last week – post epic Britney 2007 breakdown – I decided I didn’t want or need social media in my life, and I proceeded to disable all of my social media accounts and delete the apps. It was terrifying, I wont lie. But it was well justified, here’s my 7 reasons for taking a well needed, well deserved break from social media.
- I tend to focus more on others than myself
One of the main problems with social media is that we are often bombarded with other peoples ‘accomplishments’. Whether it’s a new car, a new hair cut or even a fun night out. Social media implicitly causes us to compare ourselves to others.
No wonder a lot of people who spend a lot of time on social media have increased anxiety and low self-esteem! Including myself. I’m a bugger for comparing myself, and my life to others. Feeling like I’m falling behind my peers because I aren’t at the same place in life as them.
My self-esteem has hit an all time low recently, so I’m going to focus on my own personal goals and feel good about them, without the distraction and negativity surrounding social media.
- I have a distorted version of reality
Many of us tend to fall into the trap of trying to make our lives look more glamorous than they really are, which means that we do not get to see the struggles or low points in a persons life, resulting in us picking apart our own lives and our flaws.
But in reality, we all have flaws, struggles and low points.
I’m guilty of this. I post edited photos of myself, cute pictures of my dog and the happy times I have with my boyfriend. But the reality is I struggle to even get out of bed in a morning and the smile people see is to mask the pain I’m in. I hate to look at myself in the mirror, I feel like a failure to my dog for not being more fun (sounds stupid but it’s true) and I argue with my boyfriend.
Would I ever post any of that though? Nope, I wouldn’t even dream of it. We sometimes forget the fact that what we see on social media does not truly represent someone’s life; rather, it’s just a glimpse at one specifically chosen moment in it.
- It causes happiness to be too dependent on others
I, for one, tend to seek validation from others and I noticed I did this a lot online too. A lot of people fall into this trap, and it’s difficult to get out of because the attention becomes a habit and/or an addiction they need to satisfy.
For example, if we go out for dinner and eat an amazing meal, we should feel happy because it tasted great and not because we got over 100 likes on the photo of it. Because who cares if your best friends, cousins, husbands, neighbour liked it!?
Happiness should mainly come from within, and we should only really care about sharing our experiences with those closest to us.
- We don’t socialise properly
Social media doesn’t actually help us develop or maintain real friendships with others. It takes a lot more than posting on their timelines for their birthdays and liking their latest Instagram photos. Conversations and interactions over social media are superficial to some extent and only a certain level of your personality can be shown through it.
I have always, and will always, prefer to spend time with my close family and friends in real life and show my appreciation to them in a more personal way.
Posting on social media is simply the icing on the cake when it comes to true friendships, but it certainly is not what sustains them.
- It distracts us from the moment
Social media often prevents us from paying attention to what is actually happening around us, causing us to miss out on some memorable, beautiful moments.
I can’t even begin to list the amount of times I’ve been to a concert and I’ve seen people watching the performance through their Facebook Live video rather than the stage in front of them! Or how many times I’ve visited a beautiful place and seen people take selfies or look at it through their phones whilst taking pictures for other peoples viewing pleasure. The latter I am guilty of, and it makes me ashamed.
Going out for dinner or drinks with friends isn’t the same anymore, because one of them will always be on their phone, checking social media, instead of paying attention to the very real person in front of them, paying a genuine interest in their lives.
As a result, the whole experience becomes less enjoyable. It’s easy to fall into the routine of checking social media sites whenever you have a chance, but by doing so, we tend to appreciate reality less.
- Our lives become too public
Even if we can restrict who can view our social media account, it’s important to question whether it’s necessary or even safe, to reveal so much information about our lives to individuals we barely know.
Everything we do on social media is recorded in some way, and when using social media we should all proceed with caution because it’s possible for individuals we would rather not share things with (potential employers, that creepy ex or even our parents) to see parts of our lives we would prefer to be private.
I’ve always been fairly cautious on social media, but I felt it was important to add this one. Especially for younger people only just starting out on social media, and exploring it. We should educate them on the risks.
- It’s harder to move on with life
Social media sometimes makes it hard to let go of our pasts. For example, it might be difficult to buckle down and study when all your friends are constantly posting pictures of themselves having fun.
In order to truly move forward, we need to limit the distractions around us.
I constantly live in the past. Every day I look at my TimeHop app and see my posts and photos from previous years and yearn for those happy times again. Forgetting that I wasn’t truly happy, even back then, it was all a front for social media.
So there we have it, my reasons why social media needed to be out of my life, at least for the time being. It’s been 8 days, and I have to say that it’s been really easy and refreshing. The temptation has been there, but I feel kind of liberated to know that I don’t need it. My days are spent doing other things. Now when I pick up my phone, I read the news! I never read the news!! So that is pretty big for me.
I am also doing things I wouldn’t normally do for fear of what people would think, because who cares? It’s only been a week, but I am already starting to see the positive effects of living without social media. I care less what people think, and appreciate my days more.
There’s a big wide world out there. We shouldn’t be afraid to put down our smart phones once in a while and explore it.
Peace and Love, Sian
*Side note: I did create a new Instagram account a few days back, but it’s almost anonymous and I’ve not followed anyone I know, other than my boyfriend. I followed bookish accounts, vegan related accounts and accounts that build people up. No phoneyness on my timeline, and only things I’m interested in. I’m also sharing things in an honest way, without sugar coating anything or making my life look better or more interesting. So far it’s a safe place I can truly be myself online.