Day 2: 60-Minute Digital Detox
A Clarity Exercise
The studies and articles have all been published — too much social media has a negative affect on our mental health.
The endless refreshing and mindless scrolling no doubt negatively shifs our views of reality. We start to compare ourselves to what we think is true, we experience FOMO, and we’re just left with an overall disatisfaction of our own lives.
Of course, it’s amazing we live in a time where we can use social media as a tool to connect with loved ones and new communities, especially during this time of social distancing.
But to what extent can we rely on the online world to get our socializing fix? It seems like we’re always online, but how productive are we actually being? How much mindless scrolling are you doing vs. seeking information?
That’s why we’re doing this challenge today. To take a break from it all.
Okay, but 60 Minutes Isn't Hard
- Every 11 seconds, someone uses social media for the first time.
- In this year, 2020, 3.8 million people use social media — half of the world’s population!
- And in here in North America, we spend about 2 hrs. and 6 min. on social media. Around the globe, the average is 2 hrs. and 55 min. as reported in 2019.
- By the end of our life, if we started using social media at a young age, that means we could be spending about six years online!
Not only that, but our phones in general — from the red color choice for notifications to the “manual” ability to always refresh — are designed to be addictive.
So, 60 minutes might not sound hard in theory. But in practice, we might find it to be harder than we think to shut that connection to the cyber-world than we think.
How Does Social Media Actually Affect Us?
“The internet affords us the opportunity to ‘find our people,’ because all of a sudden the perceived group size of our minority group is much larger,” says Danielle Wagstaff, a psychology professor at Federation University Australia.
I can attest to this myself — having struggled through a life-threatening eating disorder, finding people I could relate to and connect with online was one of the most important steps to my recovery.
But at the same time, social media quickly becomes overwhelming. Even if we’re filling our feeds with encouraging and positive messages.
A study conducted in 2019 examined anxiety levels and social media use in adults. They concluded that greater social media use correlated with greater feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as an increased risk for developing these disorders.
And they found that the reasonings for this could be a few things:
- Consumption of negative online experiences
- Fewer in-person social interactions
- Decreased attention span
I definitely have experienced all three of these, and I can almost feel y’all nodding your head in agreement through the screen, too.
Another study tested the correlation between social assurance — or validation — and social anxiety. This study only took a look at Facebook, but it’s definitely worth noting, especially because Facebook is the traditional example of modern social media.
They found that people who valued social assurance more than others in the study actually had a positive correlation with having social anxiety.
And this correlation might boil down to personal perceived experiences. Or in other words, the addiction that comes along with taking social media more seriously than other people.
Now it’s not all doom and gloom — sometimes social media can actually add to our social lives and increase our quality of life because of the how we use social media. Some examples are simply connecting with individuals or joining some online community.
Plus, studies like these have opened up the discussion for how we can make social media a safer place, get clinicians to recognize the serious consequences and treat social media-induced anxiety, and how we — on an individual level — be aware of our own triggers to avoid becoming anxious due to being online.
There are so many articles and studies that highlight the positives of social media, but then an equal amount that caution against the negatives. So what can we take away from these conflicting messages? It’s all about balance.
We just have to learn when it’s time to take a break from our phones. And that could really vary from person-to-person. As long as we can start being aware, we can start taking steps in minimizing this type of anxiety.
Online relationships, finding inspiration, receiving encouragement from strangers who understand you, being able to learn about the wold from your couch, and all other e-benefits are wonderful — but don’t forget that we can get that in the real-world too.
Enjoying the sunshine, having a coffee date with a friend, breathing in fresh air, enjoying quality time with family, and all other real-life opportunities are just as wonderful.
You can read my reflection here.