The bright red notifications. The 'likes.' The comments.
It’s no surprise that we all get a little giddy when we receive a mention.
NOTHING MORE THAN A DIGITAL HIGH?
Maybe we don't even realize how much we depend on those comments, shares and follows. Every day we are overwhelmed with unending streams of information. Technology is linked to our daily activities and we’re more connected than ever before, but is it a good thing? We’re constantly looking at our smart phones or our tablets. We mindlessly scroll through newsfeeds, check our email approximately 5 million times a day, and can’t sit through a TV commercial without secretly looking at our text messages at least ten times. We Instagram every meal, and post a Facebook status update on every stray thought that pops into our heads. Sound familiar?
The start of the new year is the perfect time for a fresh start. Some go on diets to better their eating habits; others hit the gym to improve their health. In an effort to de-clutter and reset, perhaps it’s a good time to consider 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.
THE FEEL GOOD FACTOR
When you receive a like, a tweet, a share of your posts your brain gets a dopamine response, hence the feeling of giddiness. Like a drug, you will eventually need more of that stimulus to receive the same euphoric feeling. Even though you may not be addicted to social media, it may be affecting your emotional well-being more than you realize. We use social media for multiple reasons from connecting with friends to hearing about the latest political moment. There are plenty of positive reasons to stay connected on the internet. Unplugging shouldn’t be used just to prove you are not actually addicted to it. Taking a break from social media is just a way to reset your mental and emotional state. Like any cleanse, its goal is to reset and rejuvenate. Plus, it gives you time to check in with yourself as you head into the rest of the year.
CURSE OF FOMO
Thanks to social media, FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a very real thing. Much of our obsession with social media stems from a desire to be in the know all the time. There is the sense that, because we can know what’s going on via live news feeds 24/7, we should stay updated on the statuses of our friends and family. This feeling that we might miss out on something if we stop checking updates can quickly become an obsession that, when fed, causes feelings of anxiety. Try to remember to take care of your mental health and find enjoyment in more “me time” or spending quality time with friends IRL (in real life).
IS SOCIAL MEDIA MAKING US LESS SOCIABLE?
With increased device use, people are becoming less likely to go out of their way to meet up and socialize. When was the last time you 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. If you find it difficult to make a phone call, consider texting a friend to reconnect over coffee. Social media is not a terrible thing, it can be a great tool to stay connected with loved ones in your busy life.
DISCONNECT AND RECONNECT
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you delete all your social media accounts and live a peaceful, device-free life in the forest with a cheerful rabbit and wise-cracking owl. Instead, consider limiting your online time to an hour a day or leaving your devices behind and keeping your mind focused on the present.