Social media ruins relationships. The social media platforms have a way of pulling you into its world and provides a false sense of reality. We all know that it is not real but virtual reality impacts real life. It destroys the ability to be fully present. By posting, looking down, scrolling, consuming, plugging in constantly, you lose more than you gain.
The great thing about social media is that it does allow you to network and source with people from all over the world. That is incredible! You connect with people you might never have ever had the chance to communicate with. By exploring hashtags and specific pages you tap into horizons and experiences that give you front row seats with just a tap and swipe of the finger. Technology is incredible. Technology is also a crutch. It is when it is taken away that we see how much we rely on it. Slow loading times or server crashes will cause a frenzy!
This piece isn't a blast on social media, it is an observation of social dynamics and how dependency leaves pixel stains on the soul.
Let me explain.
1. SOCIAL MEDIA INHIBITS YOUR ABILITY TO BE FULLY PRESENT
Being fully present means that your attention is completely set on the current moment. That you are committed to focusing on the task at hand and being in that space, holding that energy. Your physical body may be in the room but your device is the distraction. it becomes an excuse for you to "check" something and removes you from the space you currently occupy. It takes you away. When you are alone this might be okay but when you are with other people it sends many different messages.
For one, it says you are uninterested. That you would rather check in on what other people are doing than focusing on them. It says you are bored with their company and you have nothing to say. It says you have better things to do. It says you would rather be somewhere else. It says you are not present. This is major. By not being fully present, engulfed in every moment you lose the opportunity to learn, to grow, to listen, to understand, to be, to share.
How to be fully present: leave your phone in your car, in your pocket, in another room, leave it somewhere you will not have the tendency to look for it and log in. You will be surprised, out of sight out of mind is an easy tool to practice in this instance.
2. JEALOUSY! JELLACY! JELLASEE!
Tony! Toni! Toné! is one of my favorite bands. Their song, "Feels Good" directly correlates to the impact of social media. It feels good to be able to see what other people are doing, connect with friends and family, learn about big life changing events, and maybe keep tabs on what is going on in the world. It also has a way of consciously and subconsciously making you compare what you have going on in your life to what you think (or know) is going on in someone else's life.
Instagram gives you unlimited access to people. People, by nature, are going to only post the happy and positive aspects of what they have going on. You may come across some who will blog or vlog the lows of their life but on the whole, you will only see the smiles and laughs, the perfect and serene. You might even start gossiping about them. Projecting negative thoughts and energy towards those that you think they think have it going on. Jealousy is the root. Jealousy is just an extreme form of articulating one's own wants and desires. As it presents itself at the surface it comes off as gossip and it feels good to talk bad about people. It feels good to live vicariously through other people rather than focusing on living your own life. It feels good to point out other people's flaws. It feels good temporarily.
How not to get jealous: notice when you start talking positively and negatively about what people post on social media. It is human to comment. Be aware of what you say and if you don't having anything nice to say ask yourself why. Get to the root.
3. LOSING TIME TO COMPLETE IMPORTANT TASKS
According to reports generated by PEW and Common Sense Media, teens and tweens spend at least nine hours a day using media. That includes TV and mobile screens. There is a deep peer connection and instant gratification they get by plugging into social media. This is no different from adults, mind you the usage probably isn't as high but the reasoning shackles both to the screen.
Being distracted and taking breaks to mindlessly scroll extends deadlines. A task that normally would take 20-30 minutes to complete ends up taking 60-90 minutes because of the impulse to check how many likes and comments a recent post received. It becomes problematic and unhealthy when you dwell on why no one is liking or commenting. Why you aren't getting the attention you think you deserve. Why you don't have a lot of followers. All the why's keep you from what is important. All the why's increase anxiety. All the why's can lead to depression. All the why's can take a toll on your mood. All the why's because of excessive use of social media.
How not to lose time: evaluate what is comfortable and what is important. Get what you need done and set a time limit on how much you will be online. Stick to a schedule. Never prioritize social media over real responsibilities.
4. ARGUMENTS WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER
The best way to ruin a special moment is to pull out your phone to capture what was intended to be remembered in the frame of your mind instead of the 1:1 square frame of an Instagram filter. Or in the middle of a deep conversation one of you who is supposed to be listening interrupts and says, "did you see what so-and-so posted?!" instead of providing undivided and loving attention. It happens. The force of the gram is strong and is a cause of many arguments that can be avoided. Especially when you keep hearing from them that you are always on your phone and that you don't spend as much time with them and that you would rather be on your phone. Those are comments that should never be taken lightly.
Data shows that 25% of internet users who are married or in a partnership say that their spouse or partner was distracted by their cell phone while they were together. 8% reported that they got into an argument because of it, and 4% state they have gotten upset over something they found out their beloved was doing online. Social media impacts relationships. By nature it just does. So much information and interaction it is necessary to find healthy and responsible ways to not allow virtual reality to come between your special bond.
How to avoid arguments: communicate. Do not blow up or get defensive when your partner tells you about observed behavior. They want to be with you. You want to be with them. Talk about certain times of the day when you can agree that "screen time" is permitted and when it is not. Make an agreement and stick to it.
Social media ruins relationships. With yourself. With others. When not used in moderation, Instagram can give you a skewed sense of reality. Think about why and how you use this platform and find a healthy balance that doesn't take away from you living and loving.