Social media is such a big part of our lives, whether we are conscious of this fact or not. A lot of us will scroll through our feed first thing in the morning, on the bus, during lunch, in bed and even while on the toilet! When we are out for food we take pictures for Instagram, and if we do anything remotely interesting, we have to tell Facebook – after all, how else will anyone know how fun we are?!
Is this healthy?
We all know that this behavior isn’t the most healthy. For a start, it’s almost an obsession at this point, with teenagers having panic attacks if they can’t complete their Snapchat streaks. It is a constant distraction from everything else we should be doing and is numbing our brains.
Social media isn’t designed to make you feel good about yourself. It is a bombardment of complaining, bad news and unrealistic lives. You can’t get away from it, and it can have a really negative impact on your mental health. Trolls may attack you for any beliefs or options you may have, and it is impossible not to look at other people’s lives on Instagram and compare them to your own – even if it is not always a realistic portrayal of their own lives.
Don’t go cold turkey
A media detox is a great idea, but going cold turkey is likely to make you feel like an addict having withdrawals from a drug. Keep track of how much time you spend on social media during a typical day (you will probably be shocked!) and then try and half it. The rest of the time, avoid social media if possible. Delete the apps from your phone and turn off notifications. Once you have managed this, try cutting down more and more and see how you feel about it. You will likely start to feel a lot better once you have gotten over the first hurdle.
Cutting out the toxins
We follow so many people that we don’t know and quite often this is what has a damaging effect on us. Go through your accounts and unfollow anyone whose content you don’t need to see. You can also blacklist certain words or phrases on Twitter to hide them from your timeline. This is great if you are avoiding Game of Thrones spoilers, or just wanting to see less news about politics. You could even consider making your accounts private so that it is harder for trolls to target you. This will make your social media space a lot more positive.
If you do have a media detox, you will be in good company. Ed Sheeran quit Twitter for a while as he was fed up with the negativity he was getting online. Some stars haven’t quit but are very aware of the way they use social networking sites and keep on top of their usage. For example, Emma Watson tries to think of social media in the same way one might think of a diet, suggesting that we should think about what we read and interact with every day.
Everyone could benefit from a media detox. It doesn’t have to be forever, but if you go enough time without it, you might just notice that it does you a world of good. But before you delete your apps, maybe share this article with your friends first, eh?