September 19, 2019

Sometimes a break from social media is a good thing

Social media outlets including Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger were shut down for several hours March 19. It didn’t take long for users around the world to notice the breakdown of their favorite social media sites.

I admit I was one of the users that noticed relatively quickly and like many other users, I flocked to Twitter to see what the issue was. My Twitter feed was flooded with complaints from Facebook and Instagram users wondering why they couldn’t tell their friends what they ate for lunch or why they couldn’t upload their favorite “#womancrushwednesday” photos.

Users of the crashed social media outlets weren’t the only ones going to Twitter. Facebook took to Twitter as well to share an update on the situation.

In the first tweet at 1:49 p.m. Facebook simply acknowledged that the sites crashed. Facebook shared a follow-up tweet a little over an hour later at 3:03 p.m. sharing. Their follow-up tweet did not state a reason for the crash but instead that they were working on fixing the problem.

Social media has become an essential part of our lives. Many businesses, small and large, rely heavily on social media networks like Facebook and Instagram to share their business and sell their products.

I cannot lie, nearly any moment I have I go to Facebook or Instagram and scroll through my feed to waste time. If I’m in an awkward situation, avoiding homework or even if I’m just bored I’ll mindlessly scroll for hours.

Social media takes up a larger part of my day than I’d like to admit and most of the time when I’m mindlessly scrolling I don’t even think about it being a waste of my time. I have spent an hour and four minutes on social media today alone. The night isn’t even over yet and I’m sure I’ll rack up another hour before the day is up.

The average American spends two hours on social media but teens spend over four times that amount. The average American teen spends nearly nine hours a day on social media according to the report by Common Sense Media. Nine hours a day is too long to be doing any task, in my opinion, let alone a mind-numbing one.

We need to place more importance on unplugging every once in a while. Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to go full hippie and delete all social media networks but maybe charge your phone on your desk instead of your nightstand.

If you’re on social media there is a high likelihood that you compare yourself to others daily based on what they share. I know I do it. Social media makes it look like everyone has their lives together because they only share the best parts. Only seeing the best parts of peoples lives gives the illusion that their life is perfect when it isn’t and that isn’t healthy for anyone involved.

It’s easy to overanalyze people’s lives on social media and it’s easy to let that make you feel bad about yourself. What’s hard is unplugging from social media sometimes.

Your brain needs sleep to function and coincidentally one of the most common times to scroll through social media is right before bed. When you sleep your brain flushes out toxins to help it function better. Think of your brain like a road, when your brain flushes toxins it repairs the road making it easier to travel. Thinking with a sleep deprived brain is like driving down a road filled with potholes and bumps. Losing out on sleep to spend more time on social media quite literally is rotting your brain.

A psychology professor at San Diego University found that teens who spend five hours or more online are 71 percent more likely to have at least one risk factor for suicide than teens who spend one hour a day online.

Social media has been directly correlated with an increase in mental illness. Why continue to spend an exorbitant amount of time on something that is hurting you?

Social media has undeniable benefits to our society. We have access to information greater than before. We can stay in touch with anyone in any location. We can buy our groceries with the click of a button.

Social media has made our lives much more complex and we should treat it like that. We run social media, don’t let it run you and certainly don’t let a temporary shutdown ruin your day.

Although Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp returned to primary function it doesn’t mean we have to automatically flock back to these outlets. These social media sites were only shut down for a few hours, but the shutdown has the potential to teach us all a lifelong lesson – unplug, for your own sake.

 

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