Scrolling through a social media feed can seem like a harmless part of daily life. However, toxic social media exists, and we may be doing a disservice to ourselves by letting it off easily.
While we rarely recognize it, scrolling through our feeds is hardly the end-of-the-day-relaxation that it is made out to be. Just like being in a social setting where one is always on their guard, scrolling through social media is like putting yourself through the intense scrutiny of friends and strangers.
- “Why did my picture get so few likes?”
- “Does she really need more attention?”
- “Boy, I hope I’m invited to this wedding.”
Toxic Social Media can be Boycotted
People who have achieved the Herculian task of disconnecting themselves from social media find that they experience “phantom vibrations”. No, they don’t see an Instagram-shaped ghost. They feel their phone notifications going off even when their phones are off or in airplane mode.
Tellingly, social media boycotters suffer from withdrawal and anxiety. It really speaks for the toxic patterns that social media imparts to us. A few days or even hours of social media abstinence has led to users struggling to cope with an overwhelming urge to get back online.
Social Media and Age
Thought cigarettes were bad? Wait till you see this one. Critically, social media catches them young. A majority of active users on social media are 18-24 years old. Today, your individual identity is often vastly different from your social identity. Cultivating and maintaining these identities has become crucial to our happiness.
There are several things people say, to defend their potential addiction to social media.
- “How is this bad for me?”
- “I don’t really care about likes and comments and stuff.”
- “I use it to stay connected.”
Before you proclaim – and thus claim your place in history alongside Socrates – that Correlation does not imply Causation. Let me tell you this. Studies repeatedly show that social media stressors (we’ll talk about those too) are directly causing deterioration of mental health.
These are pretty common. You might even have heard of these mentioned in passing, and more likely than not felt these yourself.
Ahh good old FOMO. The harbinger of despondence, the herald of a life wasted away. F.O.M.O makes you miss what you did not want in the first place. Isn’t it incredible how four letters can make us trip head over heels with anxiety?
No, not Bitcoin. Likes. Comments. Views. Shares. SEO “Experts” and Digital Marketing “Enthusiasts” claim that content is king. Quality content that people appreciate. That adds value. *Squints at Binod*. Nobody understands this currency but every single one of us wants more. Why? Because my “friend” has much much more!
Ahh, the king of social. Highlights and stories. Good ole’ Zuckerberg snatched Snapchat’s only feature and turned Instagram into an online diary, holding our deepest, darkest lies.
This one does not exist. At least not according to the pioneers of free speech at Facebook. These mid-20-year-olds with a wealth of experience in programming the most addictive of all features proclaim in their infinite wisdom that online harassment is a direct by-product of free speech. Wisdom indeed! Nearly every one of us, women more so than men, have suffered trolls, bullies, and creeps.
With this social ecosystem, things like “Social Media has done a ton of good” or that “It’s very useful for a lot of things!” is rather difficult to say. With every technology, we look at trade-offs. We look at the pros and cons. Unfortunately, with social media, we struggle to detoxify. The internet is a toxic place. What we need is to step away and never look back. There is no “healthy” amount of social media.
The next time you get an awesome meal or a beautiful picture, cherish it. Keep it to yourself. Tell your friends over the phone but don’t post it on social. I promise you, you will feel the liberation washing over you like a sea of calm.