Social media has quickly become an integral part of our society. Many people love to stay connected with old friends and gain new followers by sharing pictures and videos from their life using platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok. Despite its popularity, I hate social media. Yes, I am part of Gen Z. Yes, I know that everyone and their grandmas have Instagram accounts. I even know someone who made a social media account for her pet chicken. However, I honestly believe social media is not as wonderful as many believe. I think social media often becomes a way for people to post pictures and talk about themselves without appearing conceited. To tackle my dislike of social media, I want to examine how it impacts our time, mental health, and relationships.
Defense 1: Time
Did you know that the average person spends 2.5 hours on social media every day? Social media is intended to be addictive and is created to draw users in. It is designed so that once you start scrolling, it is very hard to put your phone down. I’ve seen this happen countless times when I’ve gone to take a five minute break from homework and scroll through my Instagram feed. Before I know it, five minutes turns into thirty minutes, I run out of time, and my essay remains unwritten. Recently, Netflix released a documentary called The Social Dilemma that explores this concept with informed CEO and social media creators speaking out about how the programs are designed to consume time. Social media distracts people from focusing on the things they need to do and causes us to lose a lot of time that we could use to do more productive things.
Defense 2: Mental Health
Not only does social media waste our time, but it can also seriously impact our mental health. Social media can cause anxiety, depression, F.O.M.O., and negative body image issues. Anxiety and depression are currently two of the most common mental illnesses, especially for college-aged individuals. When we continuously interact with social media, we purposely put ourselves in mindsets that can cause anxiety and depression to flare. These flare-ups are caused by looking at other people’s “perfect” lives, and feeling discontent, lonely, and envious of those people, which leads to anxiety and depression. Social media also prompts F.O.M.O., the fear of missing out. When you are constantly looking at other people’s amazing activities and wonderful friend groups, it can often prompt feelings of loneliness and isolation. After scrolling through social media, many people often feel that by not taking any crazy adventures or having a certain type of friend group, they are “missing out” on a better lifestyle. These feelings can also stem from a person seeing their friends and acquaintances post about events they were not able to attend.
Additionally, social media is full of edited and distorted images of people, which can cause many of us to feel inadequate and unhappy with our own bodies because we do not look like influencers. It is easy to become discontent with our lifestyle and appearance by comparing it to people on social media. It is easy to forget that people only post the highlights on their social media, which results in us comparing our worst moments and looks to their best ones. It is important to remember that their pictures are edited and not a good representation of what they truly look like and how they live.
Defense 3: Relationships
Finally, social media makes it harder for us to cultivate meaningful connections with people. Many people, myself included, use social media as an “outlet” for awkward social situations. I have gone to many events where everyone was on their phones because they were uncomfortable and did not know each other well enough to start a conversation. We also often use social media to replace a few good friendships with many loose acquaintances. When I meet new people, one of the first things they often ask me is, “What’s your Instagram handle?” They will usually ask for my social media before asking about my major, hometown, or even my name. This causes us to have many “friends,” but never anyone we can turn to in tough times or have deep, meaningful conversations with.
With these negative effects in mind; I understand that there are some benefits to social media. I do not think the solution to the toxicity of the platforms is deleting all our accounts and never using social media again. Instead, I encourage you to evaluate your accounts and ask yourself what they reveal about the condition of your heart. There are many good reasons to post on social media such as encouraging a friend, trying to spread awareness for a certain issue, or highlighting something beautiful. All these posts stem from well-intentioned hearts. However, if you are posting to be petty, receive compliments, or emphasize yourself, that points to a heart issue such as bitterness, conceit, or jealousy. I challenge you to honestly reflect before you post and ask yourself whether what you are about to post is going to be uplifting and Christ-glorifying. If we all became more aware of what we are posting and how our social media reveals our inner selves, I think we would see a significant change in how our society uses these influential platforms.