What Value Is Social Media Adding to Your Life? These 5 Questions Can Help You Find Out.

By Amanda Fondow, MA, LPC, R-DMT

Social media…we love to hate it. It can serve many purposes. It’s a place to connect with others when distance keeps us separate. It provides news and information- sometimes factual and sometimes inaccurate. It brings people together who may be struggling with shared experience. It somehow knows our inner thoughts and will tempt us with advertisements for more stuff we want but don’t need. 

It is also a place where people can speak their mind without consequence, while hiding behind a computer and a screen name. It’s a place where we judge, criticize, and shame others for having beliefs and opinions that don’t align with our own. It’s a place where we may feel judged, criticized, and shamed for the same. 

It’s a place where the currency is a like or a share. It leaves us seeking validation from others, making our lives “feel” valuable or important while decreasing connection. Each like and share fuels the desire for more likes and shares, leading to more posts. There are even websites that tell you the best time to post to gain maximum exposure across the platform. It sounds like an exhausting and toxic environment. So why do we keep coming back?  

The Stats

According to DataReportal, there are about 4.7 billion people using social media; that’s 59% of the world’s population. The average person spends 2 hours and 30 minutes per day scrolling between multiple platforms. That is about 15% of waking time allotted to social media. Currently, the most used platform is Facebook with 2.9 billion monthly active users. Is it possible that social media has become an addiction? 

Understanding the ‘Why’

We come back to social media because it is comfortably uncomfortable. It is known and familiar. We know exactly what and how we’re going to feel (joy, anger, frustration, jealousy, disappointment, etc.). We know how to cope with those feelings (sometimes in unhealthy ways). Nonetheless, it is all known information which leads to a false sense of control.

How many times do you mindlessly scroll through your newsfeed, consciously or subconsciously, comparing yourself to others’ seemingly “perfect” lives? The reality is, each picture is a small snapshot of a single moment in one person’s life, and most of the time, the snapshot is staged and edited.

Tough Questions

I challenge you to ask yourself a few questions and encourage you to answer honestly:

  1. What value is social media adding to your life? 
  2. Is it time for a change? Or maybe a break? 
  3. Could comparing yourself to others possibly be adding to feelings of anxiety or depression? 
  4. What would it look like to make a change and what do you think is holding you back? 
  5. How might your life look or how might you feel if you made a change?

Perspective Shifts

Sometimes change can be hard. It is easy to focus on what you think you are losing and giving up, but what might happen if you instead focus on what you could be gaining? Perhaps you would have more time to invest in other healthy and meaningful behaviors or activities? Maybe you’d have more quality time with important people in your life or opportunities to explore new hobbies or cultivate your skills? If you are considering a break from social media, start small. Use the resources on your device by turning off notifications, enabling Do Not Disturb or silent mode, or maybe even uninstall apps. 

A change in the part affects the whole. Is it possible adjusting your priorities and removing an unhealthy habit could have a positive impact on your mental health and overall wellbeing? There is only one way to find out.

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