I am one of those rare people in today’s society. I never have embraced social media as a necessity in my life.
Maybe it’s that I’m older. In my teen and young adult years, we had dial-up internet and cell phones were rare. When we went out in public with friends, we talked to them and met new people. These days, restaurants and bars resemble internet cafes.
I’ve chosen to be rather private with my personal life on Facebook and other sites. I prefer to share the intimate details of my life only with my close family and in-person friends. My Facebook friends didn’t even know I was pregnant with my fourth child until I announced her birth on my page. The reactions to that were funny!
Time to Embrace This New Way of Connecting?
Now, I face a crossroads. To have successful freelance career, it’s all about consistently marketing yourself and networking on all forms of social media. I have been trying, but I don’t know if I can fully embrace these forms of communication.
My personal opinion is that instead of spending my time liking my friends’ online lives or following strangers’ lives, I’d rather live and enjoy mine!
Additionally, I’ve noticed that the more time I spend on-line or in keeping up with the different social media formats, the worse my mood becomes. And apparently, I’m not alone in this.
Social Media Depression
I know this a real thing, even though it is not yet recognized in the (DSM), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
Some studies indicate that the more time an individual spends on social media, the more likely they will suffer from depression or anxiety. This might have to do with negative reactions and posts. Or perhaps the connection may be that people who are depressed simply use social media more.
Another theory is that the more different sites you choose to engage in, the higher likelihood that you will suffer negative mental consequences. Multi-tasking has been found to increase anxiety and to decrease feelings of well-being. This risk is even greater on children and teens so that is something I try to be aware of as a parent.
Whether or not there is a scientific link to social media and mental health disorders, I know how overindulgence makes me feel. So, I choose to abstain from or take long breaks from following or contributing.
Now Entering the Technology Time Warp
Another common problem involving social media use is that it can be a huge time waster. You know the feeling. You probably just zip online to wish your friend a happy birthday. Next thing you know, an hour or two has gone by.
When this happens to me, I feel unproductive and grumpy. That precious time could have been used in ways that would benefit my emotional, physical, or spiritual growth. Or my family.
Does Anyone Really Care?
Social media was created to meet the innate human need to connect and to belong. However, sometimes it has the opposite effect.
If we obsess over how many likes, followers, shares and comments a post receives, our self-esteem can suffer. We might start believing we are not popular or well liked. If we see a group of friends smiling in a picture, but we weren’t invited to the gathering, this can lead to a sense of isolation and a sense of not belonging. We are so much more than a computer-generated number!
Social Media Has Its Place
I know that social media is a great way to keep up with friends and family. It can serve as a wonderful way to de-stress from the day. It has some benefits. Just remember to be in control of your social media usage instead of letting it control you.
Here are some warning signs that your social media use may be decreasing your quality of life rather than enhancing it:
- You no longer plan in-person meetings with friends or family because you are so busy keeping up with your online friends.
- You are constantly comparing your life to that of your friends’ and family members’ online lives and becoming dissatisfied and discontent with your life.
- When you are with others in a social setting, you so busy keeping up with your online social life that you miss out on things happening in the moment.
- You have a hard time stepping away from your screen to perform necessary tasks and your health or sanity is paying the price.
- Your relationships are suffering because the important people in your life feel like being online is more important to you than being with them. If your spouse or children are jealous of the time you spend staring at a screen, there is probably a reason.
I encourage you to be honest with yourself. Do these signs sound familiar to you? If so, evaluate what steps you can take to be less concerned about your online presence and to be more present in your life.
Please feel free to comment on this post and to share your insights about how social media affects your life. It might take me a few days to respond, but I promise I will!