The world is full of bad influences, and the digital arena is no exception. For all of the utopian dreams that the internet’s early creators might have had, many of its aspects are more likely to spread adverse impacts than create life-changing positive outcomes. Social media could be a prime culprit, and if you’re noticing that your outlook seems far cloudier than you’d prefer, then it might be time to consider a serious detox. In this article, experts from Talkspace discuss the various aspects of a social media detox.
Why Do We Need Social Media Detox?
Social media doesn’t really do many new things. Sure, it’s responsible for promoting some novel technologies and communication standards, but none of these advances originated with social networks. For instance, Facebook didn’t invent the idea of keeping up with your friends or chatting via text messages. These platforms merely facilitated the activities that humans already engaged in by throwing technology into the mix.
From this viewpoint, it’s a bit easier to see why social media detox is such a necessity. As social media platforms try to connect users with information and content created by their peers, they also expose them to a range of influences that might not impact their lives positively. For instance, the web is full of stories about people who discovered that their relatives held deeply bigoted opinions after seeing their Facebook posts and Twitter feeds.
Using social media also exposes you to a continuous flood of current events from around the world. As newspapers and cable broadcast stations established decades ago, sticking to positive topics doesn’t exactly attract attention. If you’re constantly plugged in, it’s impossible to avoid the bad news that somehow bubbles to the surface and dominates the conversation.
The Very Real Psychological Impacts of Social Media Use
What’s the result of our collective social media overload? Various studies have linked the use of platforms like Facebook to decreased life satisfaction. The overwhelming prevalence of advertising on many sites may also contribute to a negative body image or sense of self.
Researchers note that many social networking sites transform relationships into materialistic interactions that measure your success by the number of Likes or friend requests you receive. This can be especially damaging to younger people who spend more time on social networks.
Social Media Can Make Life’s Hurdles Seem Steeper
There have always been negative aspects to interpersonal interaction. The problem is that social media brings them to the forefront without context. It quantifies the constant human desire to win popularity contests by shoving a numerical score in your face every time you log in. It also makes it extremely difficult to escape negativity.
One of the most insidious things about social media is that it can actually hinder natural, meaningful discourse. Although social networks claim to connect people around the world, they often do so in ways that fail to satisfy the need for live human interaction. You’re left alone to deal with your emotional and mental reactions to the negativity around you, and you might even face bias from your peers.
Detoxifying Your Life
There are various ways to detoxify your social media experience, but they’re not all equally effective. For instance, you could cull your friend list to include only the people you agree with, but being in an echo chamber of shared opinions might be just as harmful as dealing with trolls and bad news. A better solution is to start by taking a total break.
Disconnect and Recharge
If you’re like most people, you don’t actually need social media. Unlike consuming food or water, you can easily survive without logging into Twitter or your other mentally draining platform of choice. Social media addiction is a recognized phenomenon with psychological and biological contributing factors, however. It may be easiest to cut the cord when you plan things out:
- If you’re worried about staying in touch with your friends and relatives, just make sure that you have their contact information. Call or text them more regularly. Your relationships will probably benefit.
- If you don’t trust yourself not to log in, then delete your social media apps from your phone or use a browser add-on to block these sites.
- Plan on doing something meaningful with all of the free time you’ll suddenly have instead of sitting around thinking about how much you miss scrolling through your feed.
- Set a date when you’ll log back into social media in advance. When you’re done detoxing, take careful note of how being confronted with all of the negativity again makes you feel.
Interact Without the Undercurrent of Competition
Nobody knows better than you that you need a mental break, but taking the first steps can be hard. Social media’s tendency to promote the competitive, by-the-numbers-nature of interaction makes it a poor choice for solving problems, but it might be your current go-to option for working through your feelings. If you lack an external support network, then how can you take advantage of social media detox and still face your issues headfirst?
Could online therapy be the answer? Unlike social media, tools like Talkspace leverage the positive benefits of modern communication technology without forcing you to subject yourself to the downsides. Instead of just chatting with friends who inject their own subjective ideas into the dialogue despite their best intentions, you get to talk to impartial, professional therapists. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of honest commiseration or griping from time to time, but online therapy apps give you the opportunity to see things from truly fresh perspectives.
One of the best things about tools like Talkspace is that they let you channel your social media habits into something healthier. Since you can chat with a therapist via text or video chat, it’s easy to strike up a natural back and forth. You can also share whenever you want instead of having to wait until a scheduled therapy session. This simple benefit may help you become more mindful of how challenges such as stress, depression and anxiety impact you throughout the day. In a world where digital communication has become the norm, text-based therapy is a natural complement to social media detox.
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