For all it’s done to connect the world, social media has left a remarkably large mess in its wake. What began as a means to stay in touch with friends and family has exploded into multiple political and ideological platforms, and few people have been able to escape the noise. We’re left with a bog of wannabe op-ed writers among mobs of influencers and product peddlers, turning what was once a safe refuge into a dangerous and confrontational place that saps a users’ energy and shreds their self-esteem.
Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s safe to say we expect some type of reward from our interactions—but most of us don’t get what we’d hoped for in the long run. “Likes” and similar positive interactions give us little bursts of dopamine, which tells our brains scrolling is a good source for the feel-good chemical. We may find, however, that lengthy visits to our favorite platforms do little to improve mood or well-being.
Cutting out all, or even most, of our social media use could open the doors to vast improvements in other areas of our lives. Here are the biggest reasons to dump social media.
It Can Affect Self-Esteem
Social media can make us more vulnerable than we realize; even behind the anonymous computer screen, we lay bare much of ourselves every time we share. When we don’t get the kind of response we’d hoped for from a post or new selfie, the self-esteem hit can come unexpectedly hard.
Research has shown users gauge their happiness and self-esteem as higher when they receive favorable responses—but also that regularly comparing themselves with their peers can have the opposite effect. Regular exposure to influencers and other online personalities, with frequent reminders of how relatively imperfect their lives are, can act as devastating blows to the self-esteem. There’s no comparing real life to the staged beauty and happiness that appears far too often online; when those facades become the bars people set for themselves, the results can be devastating.
It Can Affect Our Health and Well-Being
Social media isn’t a serious problem for most people, but it can be a devastating addiction for some users. Those sporadic dopamine bursts we get from various online interactions can prime these people to scroll for hours on end in search of that next tiny spike. Much like a drug addict seeking out one high after the next, the social media/online gaming addict might allow responsibilities at work or home to fall to the wayside to allow for more time online.
The fallout of these impacts on self-esteem can be profound. While some sufferers might merely become withdrawn, others can succumb to depression and issues with motivation. They may even find themselves more susceptible to physical illnesses resulting from increased inflammation levels in the body.
It Distances Us From the Non-Virtual World
Regardless of the distances the online world can reach, it’s still all virtual. Nothing can replace the element of physical interaction. When we spend too much time online, we deprive ourselves of something that’s vital to who and what we are.
Humans are social creatures—even the less social ones. We need others in our lives if we want to be at our best.
In moderation, social media can be a positive and helpful tool, connecting people from all across the world. However, it can do more harm than good if we try to use it for personal fulfillment or spend too much time scrolling. The virtual world is still relatively new territory, and finding a balance in navigating it won’t always be simple. Above all else, it’s important to make sure, amid all that surfing, that the real world isn’t passing us by.
Ready to get started? Try these tips to improve your chances of success.