I think social media can be a great tool. It can also be a fun way to take a break from life. However, it can be problematic too. Comparisons, wasting time and anti-social behaviour can occur. We all know that social media is not real life. Life is complicated and messy and far from perfect. Social media sells the myth that it is. That outfits always look put together, meals are always prepped and desks are perfectly clean. When you are scrolling it’s not always easy to remember that you’re looking at someone’s highlights. It is hard not to compare. It can also be incredibly difficult to put away your phone and be present. Addiction to social media/internet is also problematic because of how easily accessible it is (Song, Larose, Eastin, & Lin, 2004). Unlike TV, we can use social media at work, school, hanging out with friends etc. (Song et al., 2004). Therefore, it is not solely affecting our leisure time and has the potential to be a huge time suck and limit productivity and efficiency.
It is not always problematic though. Social media can be a great tool to meet people, learn from others and even relax. It can also be a source of inspiration and we can also derive aesthetic pleasure from it (Song et al., 2004). Other benefits include diversion, allows us to maintain relationships (memes anyone?) and can be a great way to grow your business as well (Song et al., 2004). All these things are great and can contribute to our wellbeing. The problem is when we abuse it. According to one research pathological internet use/addiction involves things like dependence, reduced impulse control and withdrawal (Song et al., 2004). However, social media break is not just useful for addressing potential mild addictions. It is useful because it allows us to assess our habits and check where social media has been beneficial and where it has been problematic.
My personal benefits from a social media break
One of the first breaks I took was a month off from using Facebook and Instagram. I used messenger because I still wanted to communicate with friends in different parts of the world. The first couple of days were hard. Especially in the morning because I usually scroll on social media to wake up. I had not really noticed how dependent I was on Instagram to wake me up until I took the break. A second thing I noticed was how often I picked up my phone to distract me. I could not go through an entire class without picking up my phone. This break forced me to confront that problem. I also noticed that I was a little bit more content in my life. I was not dreaming of someone else’s life. In that month I also read 5 books. One question I get asked often is how I have time to read. Here is one answer I make time for it. Picking a book instead of my phone has allowed me to go through my reading list much faster.
If you think a break from social media is right for you, I would suggest doing it over the weekend. Take Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off. See how that makes you feel. Pick up a new hobby, spend some time with your family or try meditation in the moring instead of scrolling on Instagram. AND let me know how it goes. 🙂
Song, I., Larose, R., Eastin, M. S., & Lin, C. A. (2004). Internet gratifications and internet addiction: On the uses and abuses of new media. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(4), 384-394.