We’re addicted to our smart phones and our iPads. We check our email approximately 5 million times a day, and can’t sit through a movie without surreptitiously looking at our text messages at least ten times. We Instagram every meal, and Facebook status every stray thought that pops into our heads.
We’re more connected than ever before, but is it a good thing? Considering all the points we raised above—and considering what Science has to say about it—maybe not.
According to science (thanks, science), all this social media means we’re more lonely, narcissistic, and depressed than ever before. Which is why, in the new year, we think it might be time to take a break from social media. We’re not suggesting anything too drastic, but limiting your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest intake could be just what you need to start your new year with a fresh mindset, and below are 6 reasons why.
1. Social Media Can Make You Anxious
According to Peter Whybrow, the director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, “the computer is like electronic cocaine,” and it fuels what amounts to manic-depressive episodes in users—manic episodes followed by depressive periods. The Internet “leads to behavior that people are conscious is not in their best interest and does leave them anxious and does make them act compulsively,”
2. It Can Be Rough On Your Self-Esteem
A 2013 study found that more than 50 precent of social media users honestly felt that using Twitter, Facebook, and the like had an overall negative effect on their lives, and felt that it was particularly damaging to their self-esteem. They blamed knowing too much about too many people—really, should you know how successful some girl who sat three rows behind you in science class is now—as a major cause, along with social media stalking of exes.
3. It Can Give You A Constant Case Of FOMO
Thanks to social media, FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a very real thing. We see our friends having The Most Fun Time Ever on Instagram or Facebook and wonder why we’re not there—or why we weren’t invited. It gives us crazy social anxiety, and exacerbates our sense that somehow we’re out of place, or doing the wrong thing with our lives. But it’s not real—it’s a construction! So keep that in mind, and remind yourself that you were perfectly happy staying at home knitting and watching “Scandal” reruns before you saw pictures of your friend from work at an event or a party.
4. Social Media Can Actually Harm Your Health
Twitter, Facebook, and the like, can irritate and incite us like no other. Perhaps it’s an extremely divisive comment said by a distant relative, or a really obnoxious humblebrag by a guy you went to college with. Whatever it is, reading too into, and getting too angry about things said and done over social media can be extremely bad for your blood pressure and overall mental health. It’s easy to forget that the Internet is not real life and shouldn’t be treated with life or death gravitas.
5. You Can End Up Feeling Ultimately Less Connected
Quick! When was the last time you stopped texting, and actually picked up the phone and called someone you haven’t spoken to in a while? We know plenty of people who’ve actually cultivated a legitimate fear of talking on the telephone at this point, because they haven’t done it in so long. Texting and Twittering is one of the most impersonal ways of communicating—it’s low intensity, and it requires low commitment on the part of both parties, but it can also prevent you from forging deeper bonds with the people you care about. (It can also make it a zillion times more complicated to make plans than if you were to just pick up the phone. Trust us).
6. It Can Keep You From Actually, You Know, Experiencing Your Life
How many times have you gone to see a band play, or attended music festival, and witnessed people who spend the majority of the event with their phones in front of their faces, either taking video or Instagramming the entire thing? Rather than actually experiencing their favorite band, they have the experience of recording their favorite band, and wasting time with captions, filters, comments, and posting. Will they ever really look at the pictures or the video again? Probably not. But they now have proof that they were attended the concert, even though they didn’t actually experience the concert.
What do you think? Are you ready for a social media cleanse to start 2014? Let us know below!