SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA.
Flashback to 2010, when the iPhone 4 just got released, none of us probably had a cell phone, and we spent time actually going outside or spending time with people. Now back to 2020, when everyone age 7 and up has a smartphone, and easy access to any and all information one could ever need. Wow. The times have definitely changed.
Think of your daily schedule. What takes up most of your time throughout the day? Do you study, hang out with friends? Now think again. How much time gets spent on social media every day? To be honest, it’s probably more than you think. The average person spends 3 hours and 30 minutes on their cell phones every day. That’s kind of a big slot of time. Most of this time is spent on social media, scrolling and seeing what’s going on in the world.
Recently, I watched The Social Dilemma a documentary on Netflix that talks all about the effects of social media on the world. It was actually terrifying. There’s a lot of things I never realized or thought about, that social media is causing. Social media can be manipulative, controlling, and have serious effects on our mental health. But, it’s also an amazing way to get in contact with family or friends, see what’s going on in others lives, and is a great place to express yourself. I just think it’s really important that we are all able to realize these pros and cons, so we can use social media in a way that makes our lives better.
At the end of the documentary, there’s a statement made about how turning off your phone notifications can lower the amount of time you spend on social media. So, I took this challenge and turned off all my phone notifications.
Instantly after I turned these notifications off I started worrying. Thinking, “how am I going to know if someone snapchats me or likes my instagram photo?” I really hadn’t realized how obsessed I was with these little things, and I found myself thinking about it often. Now, after almost a month with no notifications, I’ve realized how nice it is, almost freeing, to not have to jump to my phone whenever I get a notification. I’ve found that I have a lot more time for myself, and to get things done. I only check my social media when I have free time. It’s amazing to not feel pulled into my phone whenever it dings. It was almost like a responsibility, to respond to these notifications as soon as they come in.
While this was an amazing experience for myself, I also started to realize how much others are on their phone. Especially when hanging out with others. When I came to Japan I decided not to get a phone plan, so I literally can’t go on my phone in public. It’s been kind of weird to go from having constant access to everything at all times, to only being able to use my phone at home. This has made me notice how when hanging out with a group, it gets quiet often, you look around and everyone is just scrolling on their phones. In these moments I often have a feeling to pull out my phone as well, and scroll through Instagram, while the group of us sit and eat dinner in silence, not even looking at one another. But, because I have no phone plan I can’t do this, so I’m left sitting, watching other people, or trying to stir up some conversations. It’s really weird when you think about how friends will make plans to go out, but spend the whole time locked into their phones, which you can do anytime at home.
This has also made me upset sometimes, feeling like people don’t actually want to hang out with me, even though I know I've done the same thing many times. So, from now on I’ve made it an important thing to put away my phone and spend quality time with the people around me, to keep them from feeling like I don't care about spending time with them. This has really made me notice how important it is to live in the moment, and build real connections with people in real life, instead of just online. It’s so nice to be present in all these moments, instead of constantly being pulled into my phone whenever I get a notification. And, it always makes me so happy when there’s someone else in the group I’m with that finds value in taking time away from their phone, to focus on spending time with people in real life.
There’s other things lately that I’ve noticed are extremely toxic about social media. Namely, comparisons, fake news, cancel culture, and just all around hatred online. With everyone and anyone looking for any way to attack, “expose,” and “cancel,” everyone. This is kind of a sad thing, and everyone seems to be pitted against each other, with no respect for others opinions. It’s sometimes really nice to be able to turn off the phone and take a break from all the hatred and attacking going on. It’s hard to be exposed to constant negativity, and still remain positive.
Social media is also comparison central. The place where you always see people with the “perfect life” “perfect family” or “perfect body.” And this is where you start comparing yourself to these “perfect” people, and start feeling bad about yourself and where you are in your life. It’s important to be able to turn off these comparisons, enjoy your life, and appreciate that your journey is different than anyone else's. And these negative things on social media are all things that can be changed. If we all start being nicer to others online or only follow accounts that make you feel good about yourself, it can make a huge difference in how you feel on social media.
It's also a known fact, that social media affects your mental health negatively. So, it just makes me wonder why we all keep social media as such big parts of our life? Kinda sounds like a toxic relationship to me...
But, even though there is all these negative things about social media, I love social media, as we all do. After doing a poll that asked why we keep social media, even though we know it affects our mental health, many people responded saying so many positive things about social media. I think the reason we all keep social media despite its negative affects, is because the positive outweighs the negative. It’s amazing to be able to get in contact with people quickly and all the time. It makes long distances not feel as long. You can call your family every single day, message your friends all the time. It makes maintaining relationships so much easier!
It’s great to be able to see what is going on in the lives of people you care about, even though you can’t be with them all the time. Social media is amazing. It’s also so cool that we can make so many connections through social media, and meet people across the whole world, without even leaving our bed. It’s also a great place to express yourself, learn new things, or even start a business. We're all extremely grateful to live in a world where we can access anything easily, and really be able to do anything we want, through the internet and social media. And, there is also a lot of positivity on social media as well! There's things that have changed my life, and others for the better, through social media. We just need to focus on the good, and look for the positivity, in order to make social media a better place for everyone.
I do think that it’s really important to take a step back from our devices every once in a while, and realize their real, original purpose. The purpose of inventing a cell phone wasn’t so we can expose people for making mistakes, or compare ourselves to others and feel bad. It was to get in contact with other people, learn new things, and have easy access to so much information. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in social media and start feeling bad, so I really encourage you to turn off your phone every once in a while, reconnect, and figure out what is making you feel that way so you can change it for the better! Make sure you go outside, spend quality time with the people you love and, learn how to control your social media use so you can use it for good and try to focus on the positive side.
Do what makes you happy:)