If someone told you that you could speak with your friends sitting thousands of miles away from you, and share pictures, and moments with them, you probably would have smiled and said, I wish that could happen. This is where social media has been a boon for us all.
Social media has completely changed how individuals interact with one another. People today can communicate with each other immediately and over enormous distances due to the growth of social media platforms, instant messaging applications and whatnot. People can now instantly communicate their ideas, beliefs, and experiences with others through social media, and they can also get feedback and comments from a larger audience, with just a click. No matter where they live, technology has also made it possible for people to establish and sustain relationships with others who share their interests. Its role in businesses as well has been tremendous, businesses now have more options than ever to engage and tailor their interactions with their target markets thus helping them with marketing their services and products to more people without the need to go door-to-door or spend huge amounts of money for advertising on televisions, newspapers or other traditional channels of marketing..
While social media has significantly improved the way we connect and communicate with one another, it also has many drawbacks.
“If you’re just sitting there and consuming stuff, I mean, it’s not necessarily bad, but it generally isn’t associated with all the positive benefits you get from being actively engaged or building relationships” - Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook, now Meta)
Let us look at some of the major pitfalls of social media, that are affecting people today.
Why Build Boundaries with Social Media:
Bombarding of Information & Content
The constant availability of so much information is one of the fundamental issues with social media. There is a huge input being given to us with lesser output because it can be daunting and challenging to go through all of the stuff produced and shared daily to find what is pertinent and significant. A lot of stress, worry, confusion and misinformation may result from this.
Decreasing attention span
The use of social media has been associated with a reduction in attention span. In order to keep users scrolling and absorbing material for as long as possible, social media platforms are made to be extremely engaging. It might be challenging to concentrate on jobs that demand sustained attention because of the constant barrage of notifications, updates, and information from social media applications. Studies have shown that social media use can lead to a decrease in cognitive control and an increase in distractibility, which can affect our ability to concentrate and retain information.
Getting trapped in the loop of ‘instant gratification’
The instant gratification loop is a phenomenon that happens when social media users receive likes, comments, and shares on their postings, which rewards them with a quick and immediate sensation of fulfilment. This cycle can make users feel dependent on the instant gratification, frequent affirmation and attention that social media offers. This makes it difficult for people to engage in activities that require delayed gratification, which can lead to a decrease in motivation and productivity.
Setting Unrealistic Expectations from Social Media
Social media has also led to an ideal and unrealistic portrayal of people's lives, which is another major drawback. People on social media sites frequently highlight mostly the better side of their lives, such as their most memorable experiences, best photos, and accomplishments, which might lead other people to believe that they are not living a good life as compared to others, and are missing out on a lot of things or not doing enough. This can lead to feelings of envy and comparison, which can be very very detrimental to mental well-being.
Social Media Addiction
As people spend more and more time on social media, cases of social media addiction are on the rise and are having a severe impact on people’s relationships, productivity, and mental health. Prolonged and unchecked use of social media can cause difficulties in attention, concentration and lead to feelings of loneliness and seclusion.
Mental Health Issues
Unchecked use of social media has been connected to a lot of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. The temptation to exhibit an idealised version of oneself and the constant comparison to others can be detrimental to one's mental health. Also, the rise of cyberbullying and other privacy concerns have given way to a lot of stress, fear and anxiety, which if stays persistent, can manifest itself into serious clinical mental health problems.
In order to mitigate all these drawbacks, it's critical to use caution when using social media and to take breaks when necessary. It's also necessary to develop good internet habits to lessen the detrimental effects that social media may have on our mental health.
“When it comes to social media, there are just times I turn off the world, you know. There are just sometimes you have to give yourself space to be quiet, which means you’ve got to set those phones down.” – Michelle Obama
Let us look at some tips which can help you to develop healthy social media boundaries.
Tips to Develop Healthy Social Media Habits:
1. It’s okay to say ‘NO’!
In this age of digital socialization, people may unknowingly feel pressurized to spend more time on social media platforms more and more. Due to this, most people might believe that they have no right to establish boundaries. They believe they ought to accede to everyone's request to friend them on Instagram or make a special effort to assist a colleague with a LinkedIn recommendation. Therefore, it’s important to give yourself the liberty to establish healthy boundaries and say ‘no’ to avoidable social media engagements and requests.
2. Disable your Social Media Notifications
Turning off your social media notifications is one of the most important steps in setting healthy social media boundaries and stopping being continuously interrupted by them. This will help you to stay focused on the task at hand and reduce the occurrences of distractibility due to social media.
3. Set ‘time limits’ for social media usage
Instead of checking your social media accounts frequently throughout the day, you should plan and fix specified times to check them. Most social media applications today have an inbuilt feature of setting time limits on your usage. This can be a very effective way to monitor the time spent on a social media application and will help you to cut down your usage. Many external applications have also been developed to restrict and monitor the overuse of social media applications.
4. Enable 'Focus Mode' on your smartphone
Focus Mode is one of Android’s Digital Wellbeing features. It helps you to maintain your focus, by pausing distracting apps and their notifications, allowing you to get things done. It runs similarly to the 'Do Not Disturb' feature, but it specifically is more about stopping visual triggers that divert your attention. In Focus Mode, any apps you add to your distractions list will appear greyed out and you won’t receive notifications from those apps until you disable this feature.
5. Choose your contacts wisely
Be deliberate about who you connect with and follow on social media. Avoid those who bring you down and follow those who inspire and encourage you. Unfollowing pages that don't add anything to your life can actually save a lot of time and energy.
6. Put your phone on silent mode when you're spending quality time with family
You can proactively remove the distractions that prevent you from being in the present now by putting your phones on silent mode. You could even go one step further and activate the aeroplane mode when spending quality time with your family!
7. Create Tech free zones in your home
Establishing tech-free zones in your home, such as your bedroom, might help a lot in creating healthy social media boundaries. By doing this, you can create sound technological boundaries that will result in reduced stress and prevent you from being constantly distracted and indulging in social media throughout the day.
In conclusion, remember that setting boundaries isn't just important in your offline life. During your time online, setting boundaries around your usage is just as important.
Having said this, if you are stuck and are not able to limit or restrict your social media usage, consider seeking out therapy as a way to overcome this addiction. A qualified professional can guide you to find solutions and help you in kickstarting this journey of mental well-being. We, at MentAmigo, understand the need for the comfort and safe space that you may be looking for. Consider checking out our services and finding a therapist that’s right for you.