All of us are aware of the pros and cons of social media use and how it affects our thoughts, emotions, self-esteem and even our health. Yet we are increasingly becoming addicted to it. Here are 10 signs that you need to get serious, quit social networking and digitally detox yourself.
I Want To Quit Social Media.
That’s it! THAT IS IT. I am done with social media. I am tired of all the stupid, meaningless posts. I am tired of wasting my time. I am tired of thinking about who liked, commented or viewed my posts. I am tired of staring at my phone like a zombie. I am tired of scrolling through the feeds mindlessly. THIS is where it stops. From now on I am going to use my time smartly. I am going to get enough rest. I am going to spend more time outdoors. Meet the people I love. Workout. Meditate. Journal. Be mindful. Be happy.
Damn it! Just as my phone vibrates and a new notification pops up on my screen, I mechanically pick up my phone and dive back into the dark abyss of mindless scrolling. Let’s face it…most of us have been here. You have thought about it many times even if you were unable to act on it. Why? These social media platforms are smart. They are deliberately designed to keep us hooked. To keep us engaged so that we spend as much time on their platforms as possible. Whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook or whatever platform you may use, these social networking apps are addictive and by using them, for lack of a better term, “mindlessly”, we allow them to control our mind.
Social networking apps regulate our mood, our emotions, what we think, how we behave, who we connect with, and who we ignore – these apps control our lives, if you think about it. It makes us unfairly compare the worst aspects of our lives with the best aspects of another person. It affects our self-esteem, our confidence, our relationships, makes us want more from our lives (even if we don’t really need it), and keeps us from being happy with what we have. Even those good for nothing motivational quotes are useless. One minute you are feeling all spiritual and stuff, and then you scroll to the next post about your friend landing that high paying job and BAM! You’re back in the pit of your self-loathing and self-hating abyss.
Now I am not saying these platforms are bad or “evil” or that “influencers” should be renamed as “manipulators”. But the fact is social media platforms by design influence our thoughts, moods, emotions, behaviors and our mental health. They tell us what content we need to see, who we need to follow and what we need to buy. And the honest truth is, you don’t need anyone to tell you what you need to do. Heck, you don’t even let your parents tell you what you need to do. Then why? Why are we allowing these apps to dominate our lives?
Related: The 3 Negative Effects Of Social Media On Our Life
I Can’t Quit Social Media.
The only reason you can’t quit social media is because you’re addicted to it. One study describes this addiction as “a user’s maladaptive psychological state of dependency” on the use of social networking sites (SNS). This is often manifested as an obsessive pattern of using social media which impairs daily functioning. It also includes symptoms of behavioral addiction, such as mood modification, growing tolerance, salience, relapse and withdrawal.
Social media has become a crucial part of our lives. It allows us to stay connected with our family and friends, create new contacts, expand our business, find new jobs, collaborate with other talented people. Yes, the possibilities are endless. We feel good about ourselves when our friends “heart” our new Instagram post, when we see strangers sliding into our DMs and give us all the attention. We all want to feel special. But at what cost? These apps alter our brain chemicals by affecting the dopaminergic reward system. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is released in the brain as a reward for pleasurable behavior. Dopamine is released we exercise, eat good food or have sex. It can also be released when you are getting all that attention on your posts as it does not regulate rational thinking or helpful habits. So when dopamine is released for unhealthy behavior that habit can turn into an addiction. As you keep getting those “likes”, “hearts” and what not, you become increasingly addicted to these platforms without even realizing it. And so you spend hours upon hours on these apps, affecting the quality of your life.
According to a 2019 study, “addiction to social networking is classified as a form of cyber-relationship addiction.” It adds that such addictions can be formed due to negative psychological or emotional experiences in childhood, psychosocial status and personality traits. It can also be influenced by your “age, sex, economic status, and nationality.” The study explains that we may become social media addicts for rewards, such as escaping the reality of our internal & external problems and for entertainment. Moreover, we can also get addicted to certain activities on social networking platforms rather than to the platform or the medium itself, suggests further research.
Related: Why You’re Addicted To Your Phone And How To Fix It
I Have To Quit Social Media.
Unfortunately, this addiction can lead to an array of mental health problems and psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression and changes in self-esteem. According to a recent 2020 study, “social media are responsible for aggravating mental health problems.” The study also found women are more likely to experience mental health problems related to social networking usage than men. Research has revealed that social media use is associated with depression, anxiety, loneliness, addictive behavior, narcissism, self-harm, and even suicide. There is no doubt that it is detrimental for our mental health and well-being when used excessively and without awareness. Social media usage is also linked with –
- Anxiety and depression
- Poor self-esteem
- Low sense of self-worth
- Excessive need for external validation and attention
- Envy and jealousy
- Fear of missing out (FOMO)
- Social isolation
- feelings of inadequacy
- Sleep deprivation or insomnia
- Less satisfaction with life
Social networking addiction and usage is also associated with NOMOPHOBIA or NO MObile PHone PhoBIA. It is a psychological disorder where the sufferer develops a fear of getting detached from their smartphone, internet connectivity and social networking apps. “Individuals use social media with varying quantity, emotional, and behavioral attachment that may have differential associations with mental health outcomes,” states a 2018 study.
Related: How Does Social Media Affect Mental Health
Signs You Must Quit Social Media
Should you stay away from all these social networking apps? Heck yeah! If not permanently, then you should at least step back temporarily. I think, by now, we have established that the cons of spending time on these apps far outweigh the pros. Okay! Answer this: Is that “like” worth our mental well-being, inner peace and happiness? For me the answer is a clear NO! This is especially true if social media usage is affecting your ability to function, your relationships, your emotional and mental health and the quality of your life.
So if you are wondering if you should take a break from social media & detox yourself, then here are a few telltale signs you need to watch out for-
1. You constantly compare yourself to others
Whether you like it or not, Facebook, Instagram and the gang makes us compare our lives with others. I know I do. But the problem with that is we compare someone’s best moments in life with our normal daily life, which is typically mundane, boring and uneventful. And how does that make us feel? Inadequate, ungrateful and dissatisfied. No one shares their struggles or failures. It’s all about the perfect selfie, that Starbucks latte or that amazing beach photo from their recent trip to Bali. If you can’t stop comparing your daily normal life with those oversaturated, heavily edited images on social media, if you start believing their life is perfect and your life sucks, then it’s time to deactivate your profile.
2. You feel terrible about yourself
Despite what you may comment on your friend’s latest post from their family vacation, wedding, workplace or whatever “cool” things they may be upto, you know very well how it makes you feel in reality. Your self-hatred, self-doubt, low self-confidence, fear of failure and insecurities slowly creep in driven by a hint of jealousy. You look at their shiny photos and videos and look at the sad reality of your life making you feel inadequate, unloved and unworthy of happiness. If you feel your self-esteem depends on the amount of “likes”, “hearts” “followers” and “retweets” your post gets, if it is affecting your confidence, it’s time to step back from the screen, appreciate what you have and fix your life. Remember, no one is living the perfect life despite what they may post.
Related: Does Social Media Increase Teen Depression? This Is What Research Says
3. Your phone is the first thing you check
Did you know that over 80% of all smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes after they wake up? If you are one of them, then you need to quit social media immediately as such behavior is associated with increased anxiety, stress, inattention, negative mood and depression. Moreover, checking social networking apps before sleep can also affect our sleep quality and lead to insomnia by stimulating your brain. One study found that people “who use their smartphones more at bedtime have more risk of being poor sleepers.” If you can’t start or end your day without scrolling through your mobile screen, then you are obsessed with it and it’s time to detox yourself.
4. You can’t live without your phone
Do you start scrolling through Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat or 9GAG without even realizing it? If you spend too much time on your phone and if it affects your education, work, relationships or normal life, then you are addicted to it and you need to deliberately stop it. According to recent statistics, an average person spends around 145 minutes on social media daily. So if you’re scrolling without even realizing it or feeling compelled to reach for your phone, whether you are in a meeting, at work, at school, while having dinner or talking to a loved one, then it’s safe to say that you are obsessed with your smartphone and you need to take a break.
Related: Teens And Dangerous Levels Of Cell Phone Use
5. You lose it when you can’t check your phone
Do you have NOMOPHOBIA? Are you afraid of losing your phone or being unable to access social media? According to a recent 2020 study, no mobile phone phobia refers to the fear, anxiety, nervousness and discomfort felt by someone when they are without their mobile phone. The study found that it can “increase the likelihood of problematic dependent, prohibited and dangerous mobile phone use.” So if you experience anxiety, have a panic attack or freak out when you can’t check your social media profiles, then it may help to talk to a professional about staying away from your phone.
6. You use it as a distraction
Taking a short break from work can help us refocus and be more creative and productive. However, if you are constantly running to grab your phone and check the latest post on Facebook or Instagram while at work, then it can not only keep you distracted from the task at hand, but also affect your concentration, attention, productivity and performance. As social media is addictive, we need to be very disciplined about how we use it and if you feel it is affecting your work, uninstall that app and go for a quick walk or chat with a coworker to refresh your mind. You can thank me later.
7. You don’t enjoy it
Social media is supposed to be fun and engaging. It is an interactive way to connect with people we know and meet new people. But if lately you feel it is more of an obligation than fun, if you are getting irritated, annoyed or sad by looking at the posts on your feed, if you feel guilty about wasting your time on it, then you should definitely step away. It is not supposed to make you feel stressed or anxious.
Related: How Did Facebook Go From Fun to Being a Toxic Place to Socialize!
8. You neglect your personal life
Being too obsessed with social media or constantly worrying about what you will post next to get more “likes” can seriously affect your personal life and relationships. It can also prevent you from pursuing your passions and hobbies, learning new skills and doing things associated with personal development. In fact, excessive use can also affect family dynamics and how families function. When you relentlessly scroll through your phone, you are rejecting opportunities for engaging in self-improvement activities that lead to satisfaction.
Moreover, it can also affect your personality and turn you into a bully as the safety of being anonymous online often gives us the false confidence to insult or troll others. If you feel you are losing your genuine self and your life due to social networking, take steps to quit social media.
Related: 5 Social Media Habits That Are Toxic To Any Relationship
Still itching to fiddle with your phone? Here are some more warning signs that you need to quit social media right now –
- You have no friends that you can count on in real life
- You share too much of your personal life through your posts.
- You have started to stalk people online who you don’t even know
- You grab your phone instantly after a notification pops up
- You use it as your main source of communication and news
- You are easily influenced by all the posts, information and news shared on your feed
- You experience phantom vibrations or feel your phone vibrate when it actually doesn’t
- Your real life is getting affected by the negativity online
- Your online personality is different from your actual personality
- You meticulously plan and prepare for your future posts
- You don’t spend too much time outdoors
- Your fingers become sore from too much scrolling
- Your eyes become strained as you stare at your phone for long hours
- You become upset if your posts don’t perform well
- You believe everyone has a better life than you
- You want to check one thing quickly but end up scrolling mindlessly
- You can’t enjoy life without posting about it on your profile
If you can relate with some or most of the signs mentioned above, then you need immediate digital detox to improve your mental health and your life.
Related: 8 Signs You Have An Unhealthy Attachment To Social Media
How You Can Quit Social Media
When you are aware of the effects and signs of social media addiction, then you need to be mindful about your behavior. Instead of scrolling through posts mindlessly, ask yourself why you need to do this and how it will benefit you. Here are a few ways to be more mindful about your use of social networking sites –
- Do something meaningful and productive after you wake up, like meditating, exercising, going for a walk, or talking to a loved one
- Have a scheduled time and duration for checking social media updates every day. Make sure to keep track of the time spent
- Avoid using your phone before bedtime and engage in relaxing activities that promote quality sleep
- Turn off notifications from social networking apps by updating your phone settings or putting them in silent mode to avoid distractions
- Engage in activities that help to boost your self-esteem and confidence
- Socialize in real life, meet friends in person and spend more time with your family
- Engage in your hobbies and interests and learn new skills
- Spend time in nature and get some sunlight
- Realize that getting more “followers” or “likes” will not make any difference to your life
- Understand that everyone is coping with their own struggles and insecurities. No one is living the perfect life
- Uninstall or disable social media apps from your phone for some time, if nothing else works
Related: 8 Steps To Improving Your Self-Esteem
Find Happiness Offline
Social media is not necessarily evil. It all depends on how we use it. When used in moderation, it can be an excellent tool that adds to the quality of our life. But when you’re addicted to it, it can do a lot worse than just affecting your mental health. If social media is making your life more complicated, then you need to detach yourself from it.
Life is beautiful. Yes, it’s full of ups and downs but the struggles make the accomplishments sweeter. Escaping your life is never a solution. Focus on building memories and gaining new experiences. Don’t skip on life just because you have to check the latest updates.
Related: How Smartphones and Social Comparison are Making Us Unhappy
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