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.
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.
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.