I grew up around the time when having a mobile phone in a household was not a common thing. I have seen it evolve, over the years we had black n white to color phones with keypad then slowly we transitioned to having fewer buttons and more touch. And eventually, we entered the era of smartphones which we still currently are.
The past decade or so has seen a dramatic rise in the use of smartphones, Gone are the days where people used to simply spend time with their family. Now everything needs to be documented, photographed, and uploaded on social media, from eating food to having "candid" photos which are not so candid.
We have all gotten sucked into this Vaccum at least once in our lifetime of mindless hours of scrolling through our Instagram or Facebook feeds. Over time we all lost our sense of freedom, we just couldn't keep our hands away from our phones and had to have it within our arms reach.
The question is why? Why are we so consumed by a device and it's certain apps that we just cannot get enough of it?
Raise your hand if you do any of the following
Check your messages and social media first thing after waking up.
You take photos of almost everything with the intent of sharing it somewhere.
Check your messages and social media before going to bed.
Checking social media is the first thing you do whenever you are free.
You constantly monitor the likes and comments you get on your posts.
If you do in fact do any of the above things, then its time to take a step back and observe yourself and your actions.
Why is it harmful?
It makes you draw comparisons
One of the worst things social media does is it subconsciously makes you compare your lifestyle with others, When you see people posting pictures of them on vacation, it makes you want to do the same when you go on your trips. And before you know it, the trips suddenly become one giant studio for your Instagram photos instead of simply enjoying the journey.
Are taking pictures and posting it on social media bad? No, but what's your intention behind it, is it to show off how cool your life is, or to garner more likes and followers with it, if yes then you know the answer.
Memories are important but are you clicking those pictures to capture a moment or to capture the perfect picture which will get you more likes than before.
If you want to post pictures of your self on social media, do it if you feel like you want to share a memory of your journey instead of sharing every single thing and to the point where clicking pictures was the only "fun" thing you did on your trip.
It Creates Fear of missing out (FOMO)
When we open our Facebook and Instagrams we notice hundred and thousands of posts from people who seem like they are always having a great time with their "smart" and "funky" captions.
Basically social media has created an illusion that it's one big virtual party and if you don't check in every few hours you feel like you are missing out on something. This goes for WhatsApp groups as well. We see people there constantly checking for new notifications as if their lives depend on it.
You seek validation subconsciously
Let's say you post a picture on Facebook, Instagram or even on a WhatsApp group, if you don't get enough likes, comments, or reply, let's face it - you feel anxious and wonder what's going on, even angry at times on other people for not acknowledging what you posted.
My point is, with every counting likes you get, it creates a false sense of fame and approval from people which makes you feel complete and validated. And you try to get that validation again and again and eventually you want more and one of the days when you don't get enough likes or comments to your post, it brings you down and creates unnecessary stress and anxiety which ultimately lowers your self-esteem.
It Robs you of your valuable time
On average a person spends 1-3 hours a day on social media. That's 7 years in a lifetime. You see, it might not seem like it at the moment but our time on earth is very limited and finite and with each passing second we lose time which we ll never have again.
So when we spend those valuable hours scrolling mindlessly on social media, we lose our precious time which we could have spent on something else. Something that adds value to your life.
Our one hour of religious worshiping, mantra chanting or meditating is worthless if we spend the rest of the day, Gossiping, rumoring, bad-mouthing, and getting involved in negative discussions. It becomes just another chore of the day to complete when the goal of prayer and meditation is to gain more self-awareness, calm, and peace within yourself, and when you are self-aware, I promise you, spending time on social media is the last thing you will want to do.
Creates a false sense of fame and competition
Nowadays wherever you see, Most of the youth and middle-aged people are secretly proud of the number of followers or likes they have. When in reality you are simply posting a picture for which people hit a button which counts as a like as they scroll through the sea of pictures and videos.
So when you get those likes on your pictures, it creates a feeling that you have an audience that is waiting for content to be uploaded by you. It makes you think you actually have a natural talent for making TikTok videos or boomerang or whatever it is.
We must understand, these are tools created simply for entertainment. Some people do use for their career to market their brand, product, businesses, etc. But many only use it to get appreciated with likes and comments for their uploaded content.
The more appreciation we get, the more we come back to it.
3 Steps to Withdraw from Social media
The goal behind this post is not to make everyone quit social media, its to create awareness to actually notice what you are doing, and its effects. Let's admit it, deep down we all know it's not a good habit to have. So if you are considering a change then try these methods because whenever our brains are hooked onto something it's harder to just yank it away completely.
The idea here is to slowly and gradually withdraw the habitual path of being on social media, and minimize it to the point that you don't really care about the likes, comments, posting pictures, etc. You will post pictures because you want to share with your friends or family or to just have a place where you can upload memorable moments. But not specifically creating a moment to upload on social media. With that being said, Let's get started.
1) Turn off Notifications
When a person posts a picture on Facebook or Instagram, every time someone likes or comment on it, you get a notification, which tempts you to quickly check in on it, which ends up in another small session of you spending your time on it.
These little 10-15 minutes won't seem like a lot at the moment, but if you add it up throughout the day or the whole week, you 'll be surprised how much you spend on these platforms.
So when we turn off these notifications, we are no longer controlled by a beep on our phone, If you want to check the comments (if any) on your posts you do it when you actually have free time, rather than keeping your phone on your side so that when it blinks, you end up going on social media every five minutes. So it results in us being ruled by these little blings and beeps to the point where we just have to get our hands on our phone as if its as emergency.
Step 2) Keep your social media feed short and strictly relevant to you
We have all been there, we accept 99% of the friend requests and followers because it makes us feel important in a way that other people want to follow us, even the people we don't know, but we don't care, we just want that number to go up.
So now, what happens is, we have this mirage of people on our feed that we don't know, but you follow them because if you unfollow them, they ll do the same and no we don't want that.
this results in an increase in the time we spend on social media because now we have so many followers or the number of people we follow that our feed turns into this endless stream of pictures, memes, and videos or whatever else.
So when you accept requests or follow or get followed by the people that are relevant to you, your feed gets cut short to the minimum resulting in less temptation in going back again because there isn't that endless ocean of posts waiting for us to scroll on.
Step 3) Uninstall all the apps
By all I mean, the ones which make your lure you to them every time you hold your phone such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. You see, these apps are made as a lite or remote version of their original websites. They were never directly made onto an app. It all progressively evolved due to the demand and to make people come back to it as often as possible.
When you don't have these apps, the amount of time you spend on these platforms will cut down dramatically to the point where you get used to the new reality of not having it.
I understand many of us do use these social media also to get quick updates from their University, Gym, Events, etc and that's fine when we use it with the right intention and with a specific purpose.
it does not manifest onto mindless scrolling because we enter the website or platform seeking a piece of specific information and when we get it, we close it and go back to doing whatever else. We do not need the apps for these.