Thinking in Status Updates

status updatesWho has not had a personal revelation and realized that it would make for a great Facebook status update or tweet? Or perhaps something hilarious happened in front of you and your first thought was that you had to share it with your social media community. More and more, our online personas are getting crossed up with our actual personas, causing us to think and create in terms of what will win us attention and praise in our social media circles. This is unhealthy for a number of reasons.

The level at which social media has infiltrated our brains is disturbing. We are not thinking in a natural way or truly living in the moment when we project our thoughts and ideas to a future social media post. It used to be that our private thoughts were private, but presently we carry our social media audience with us wherever we go. We try to think thoughts that would make them laugh, move them and make them think. This inhibits the free flow of ideas that used to come to us effortlessly.

Our focus on being a memorable social media presence is off putting. We have too much of our identities wrapped up in social media. When we have reached the point that our thoughts are only worth having if they would appeal to a social media audience, we have problems. We should be establishing thought and behavior patterns that reflect who we are as individuals and what our personal value systems are. Social media is qualified as a legitimate addiction because of how alluring and accessible it is. We need to be keenly aware of behaviors within ourselves that could reflect an addiction to social media. We need to identify these behaviors and eradicate them in order to be a productive society.

If you catch yourself thinking, “I’ve got to post that later” or “I can’t wait to tweet about this,” a little too frequently, stop to think about whether or not your mental health is in jeopardy.

Individual and Collective Effects of Social Media

social media addictionFor most of human history, personal relationships were limited to in-person interactions or long distance communication. With the emergence of electronic communication, the internet and finally social media, in-person interactions were no longer the primary method of forming personal relationships. Social media interactions are replacing much of what in-person interactions used to provide, and this is creating an epidemic of removed, absent, half-interested personal relationships.

Social media may feel like a natural part of our present social landscape, but there is heavy debate and controversy over how social media affects our culture. Often times, the verdict is not a positive one. Social experts typically conclude that social media is making our personal relationships more removed, our attitudes more narcissistic and our human connections passive instead of active.

The human connections that are made through social media are passive instead of active. Social media is removed from reality. It may follow reality, but it is not a real medium of existence. Therefore, people do not feel the full measure of their actions, choices or consequences on social media. They perceive a numbed version of reality and of making connections. This is dangerous to culture at large because if people cannot remember how to form real connections with one another, they will not be able to sustain their relationships or connections with any kind of substance.

And lastly,  social media is also frequently associated with the emergence of narcissistic attitudes and self focus. Our own social media pages are celebrations of the self, like digital shrines. Social media does not require a person to take an interest in others. In fact, the focus that people place on social media is how they, as individuals, are represented online. Social media culture is one of self interest and self satisfaction. People abuse social media as a means of seeking copious amounts of attention.

Take a Healthy Separation from Social Media

unhealthy social media addictionHas your workout routine gone by the wayside because of the time you spend perusing your social media sites? Is your significant other complaining about the time you spend on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Are you compulsively checking your social media sites even though you are aware of how annoyed you are with them? It could be that you have reached the point where you know you need space from your social media accounts. Social media is mentally and physically harmful to us when our focus on it is out of control. Taking the first step to separate from them can be challenging, so read further to learn some ideas for how to break away from that pesky social media site.

  • Focus on your in-person or voice-communication relationships instead of on your social media relationships. Studies have proven that the people you have actual voice conversations with and make personal time for are the ones whose time you benefit from. They are also the ones who benefit from time with you. Do not neglect these meaningful relationships for an uncaring computer screen.
  • Placing rules and boundaries on your personal social media use is a good practice to be in. You need to take limiting your social media time seriously in order to overcome it. Do not allow yourself social media time first thing in the morning, or last thing in the evening before sleep. Instead, spend time with your significant other, read, meditate, pray or drink some tea. Forbid yourself from using social media while with friends, family or at work. Try to limit it to a few minutes per day.
  • When you free up your time by limiting your social media use, you will want to be sure to then fill your time with meaningful activities so that the habit sticks. Get out and enjoy all the things you have been missing out on with your face stuck in a screen. Go hiking, spend time with the elderly, plant a garden, go on a date to the theater, take a moonlit walk or start a new hobby. Social media is merely simulated life, and it causes us to miss out on actual life.

Why Social Media Obsession is Unhealthy

social media dependenceSocial media is everywhere. It has become one of our primary means of communication, one of our favorite pass-times and a focal point of our day-to-day lives. Millions of people start and end their days with social media time, and many devote hours upon hours to their social media engagements. We are quite accustomed to this modern trend, however, this does not mean that it is a healthy practice. In fact, there is a great deal of evidence that suggests that overindulging in social media has very negative effects on our lives.

First of all, a social media obsession is certain to dwindle a person’s level of accountability and responsibility. Social media is very time consuming, and a person who cannot manage to pull their attention away from it will inevitably begin to slack off on their personal responsibilities, such as work, school, chores and daily obligations. This is very detrimental to a person’s reputation and to their ability to take care of themselves.

Another thing that may begin to suffer immensely due to a social media obsession is personal relationships. It may seem ironic that something with the word “social” in its title would be detrimental to relationships but actually, in the truest sense of the word “social,” it is doing exactly that. Instead of socializing in person, people have taken to socializing through their computers, which ultimately makes them less able to connect with people in person, and makes them dependent on technology for the formation of their personal relationships.

And lastly, an obsession with social media is detrimental to a person’s physical health. This occurs in several ways. The most obvious of these is weight gain and muscle deterioration. Engaging in social media is an essentially inactive practice. You are always sitting and holding still in order to engage in social media which promotes a sedentary lifestyle. Another less known health effect of social media indulgence is the effect the blue light has on your eyes and brain. The light of a phone or computer screen is unnatural and disrupts the brain waves that interpret light signals. This can cause headaches, eye redness and sleep disorders.


What are Social Media Sites?

social mediaSocial media sites are a recent but impactful phenomenon in our lives. They emerged shortly after the internet became available to the public. At first, the internet was only used for the exchange of information, but the internet’s potential for sociability became quickly known. The first major social media site that everyone of the era remembers is MySpace. Several years after, this was replaced with Facebook and Twitter. Sites like Instagram and Pinterest found themselves a unique niche in social media and flourished. All of these sites, even MySpace, are operational today. Their popularity has become so unprecedented that they are literally universal, and their creators are multimillionaires and billionaires. Below is more information on each individual social media site.

  • MySpace emerged in the 1990’s as the first personal profile social media site to go global. Its concept, complete with space for pictures, personal information and even a theme song, struck mass appeal with many age groups. It quickly became the most popular form of self-expression on the internet. It has since become outdated for mass social media, but is still popular among some musician circles.
  • Facebook is the most well known and widely used social media site to date. Creator Mark Zuckerberg struck gold when he launched Facebook and it made him one of the wealthiest people on earth. There is no social media site in history that has garnered as many personal accounts as Facebook. The success of Facebook as a social media site can be attributed to its adaptability, intuition and intelligence in its programming.
  • Twitter is not far behind Facebook in popularity, and is actually preferred to Facebook by many people. Twitter is known for the concise sharing that members do socially. Rather than a complex profile with a great deal of information and images about a person, Twitter is enjoyed for its minimalism in how people engage socially.
  • Instagram is a social media site devoted to images. There is little text on this site and a great deal of personal image sharing, largely of personal photos that represent positive times in a person’s life.
  • Pinterest is a niche site devoted to creative expression and ideas. This site is a network for the sharing of creative ideas and do-it-yourself projects.

Obsessed with Social Media Sites

social media addictionWe use the term “addiction” lightly when referring to something that is seemingly more trivial, such as gummy worms or Facebook. Upon a closer examination, however, the idea of an entire faction of society being addicted to Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or any other social media site has detrimental ramifications. Think of the long term effects of a societal shift toward more removed personal relationships, in a society that already has problems with anti-social behavior and narcissism. The trend holds the possibility of weakening social bonds, furthering mental disorders and doing damage to the lives of individuals.

First we must consider whether or not the term addiction can even apply to something like a social media site. The answer is yes. Addiction may refer to any particular focus that goes to the extreme of altering an individual’s behavior and affecting the individual’s life for the worst. If someone is spending excessive hours in front of the computer to be on Facebook, ignoring life obligations, relationships or activities that are better for bodily health, they are addicted. Any behavior or substance can be addictive, but the level of severity and immediate threat varies.

Someone would have to have a very severe addiction to a social media site in order for it to qualify as an immediate threat. The long term duration of this type of addiction can, however, have unhealthy effects on the life of the addict and society at large. Someone may not even realize their ability to socialize in person gradually slipping away from them as they become more and more immersed in their social media relationships. Because social media relationships are less complicated than in person relationships, the objectification of people can begin to take hold. Before the person realizes it, they are dependent on technology to form relationships. Their inability to connect with people in person is lost. This furthers an anti-social mentality and makes the person more self-focused, or can lead to an identity crisis.

It is wise to examine yourself for signs of social media addiction. Historically speaking it is a brand new trend, and a large number of people are susceptible to it. Place rules and boundaries on yours and your dependent’s social media use. Focus on your in-person relationships rather than your social media ones. Consider counseling for addiction if you cannot control your social media time. Refuse to succumb to an internet addiction!