Social media is addicting – practically all of us have dealt with this. Are Instagram and Facebook on your side? No, they are built to profit off of your need for connection, while they truly have a very negative effect on our psychology.
We’re going to learn about how social media is destroying our brains, now let’s begin.
Life is full of important moments, think of your favorite vacations, on holiday dinners with your family and on the biggest stepping stones in your career. These are the kinds of moments that you want to remember forever, right. For many people, just remembering isn’t good enough. They want a physical reminder of what those moments felt like. They take pictures they record videos, and keep souvenirs.
These reminders transport them back in time, letting them relive the joy, beauty, or surprise of a single moment from their past. When you start posting those photos on social media, something strange happens, you stop focusing on the moment itself, you stop remembering what really happened and you start thinking about what you can change.
You start cutting photos you don’t look your best in; even if that photo makes you laugh or cry, you start doctoring how your experiences looked or felt .why is that? Because you want other people to see how perfect and powerful your life is. Many people on social media are so focused on displaying perfection that their real-life gets lost in the mix. The person on their profile may resemble an idealized version of themselves. They’ve changed their whole life just to impress a bunch of people on the internet.
If you start editing your life, you stop appreciating how imperfect it can be. If you look at a sunset, you might focus on taking the perfect picture, brightening the colors, or creating the right mood instead of actually enjoying the sunset. In real-time, you pay less and less attention to the powerful moments as they happen, and you stop appreciating experiences for what they are.
Each one just feels like another opportunity to brag on social media.
Views, likes, and comments are all different kinds of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is when someone gives you a reward for doing something good. Imagine a parent who gives their kid ice cream for behaving at the doctor; they’re reinforcing their child’s good behaviour with a positive reward; hence the name positive reinforcement.
On social media, virtual compliments are not different from someone handing you an ice cream. Each one makes you feel good about yourself; it tells you that someone in the world likes you, admires you, or even envies you. It gives you a boost of self-worth, which motivates you to keep going.
You might feel special after posting a picture online, so you post another until you’re posting on social media every single day, and just like that, you’ve become dependent on positive reinforcement. You started relying on these platforms to make you feel good, and that can be dangerous.
If you don’t practice appreciating yourself, it gets harder and harder to do it on your own. You forget how to value yourself. Don’t let social media take that away from you. The occasional boost never hurt anybody, but if you’re fishing for compliments online, it can really mess with your brain.
Social media is a notorious time waster. Without even realizing it, you might spend hours every single day browsing through different platforms. Some people lie awake in bed, scrolling through page after page until it’s suddenly 2:00 in the morning.
Others use social media in small bursts. They might spend only five minutes at a time on their phone, but they do this every single hour of the day. It seems like they’re barely ever on social media, but those five-minute increments really add up. By the evening time you’ve lost an hour or more of your time which you could have spent on work hobbies or with your family.
Time is one area where social media becomes especially destructive. It twists the way you think, it distracts you with all those buttons, pictures, and videos, and your brain loses track of time.
Also read: 12 Smart Habits That Will Save You Time
Social media and motivation are natural enemies. In fact, social media is one of the most common ways that people procrastinate. When you’re feeling stressed or insecure, social media offers you the chance to get lost in other people’s lives and leave behind the stress of your own.
There are plenty of other time wasters that do the same thing. Take watching TV or playing video games; both of these activities distract your mind from whatever it’s supposed to be doing. Social media hurts your motivation in a way that no other bad habit does. It destroys your productivity and your self-esteem. Each time you browse through social media, you see people doing amazing things; maybe they’re traveling the world or chasing their dreams.
On the surface, these kinds of profiles seem inspiring, but deep down, they make you feel worse about yourself. You can’t help but compare your life to theirs, so you hone in on all the ways you wish your life was different. These comparisons tear your motivation apart not just because you’re procrastinating with social media but because you don’t feel as satisfied with the life you’re living. That makes you lazy.
Do yourself a favor, cut down on social media, so this bad habit doesn’t ruin your motivation
Also read: 7 habits that are destroying your motivation
The social media change your mood – most social media seems harmless. It’s just something you do when you’re waiting in line or trying to fall asleep, but social media isn’t just a way to pass the time. It can actually stop you from being happy.
2013 study from the journal PLoS ONE discovered that avid Facebook users feel less satisfied and not just with their jobs or social circles but with their lives in general. People who frequently used Facebook we’re lonelier had lower self-esteem, and they felt less supported. Now, on the other hand, people who rarely used their accounts were more fulfilled and confident.
Another study from 2017 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, tested this on 11 different media platforms. They tried everything from Instagram to Reddit, they even collected data from career-oriented platforms like LinkedIn, but no matter where they looked, the results were always the same.
Also read: Happiness: 12 Rules to Live a Happy Life
Social media had a negative effect on people’s happiness, and avid users had higher perceived isolation. In other words, even if you have a lot of friends, you’ll still feel lonely and less satisfied.I know social media might seem like a fun way to pass the time, but the truth is it can stand in the way of your happiness. Click To Tweet
Every time you log on to your account, you participate in a jealous cycle. In fact, many social media users try to create that jealousy in other people. The cycle of jealousy starts when you browse through the profile of someone you admire, now in your eyes, they’re doing something amazing, and you respect, or you envy them for it. You try to make your profile look amazing too, but that just means someone else is gonna look at your pictures and think wow I wish I was doing that. They’re going to carry that feeling into their own virtual lives, and just like that, a chain of jealousy can span across dozens or even hundreds of people.
How does that jealousy impact your brain? Suddenly you’re not thinking about the life you want; you’re not living for you anymore; you’re living to make other people jealous. You only feel satisfied when people envy you, and you get bitter when they don’t.Social media pulls you into this vicious cycle. If you're not careful, you'll lose sight of what really matters. Click To Tweet
Many people make a basic cognitive error every time they log on to social media. They expect social media to have a positive impact on their lives. They expected to be fun, helpful, and satisfying, but it rarely happens. When you expect to feel one thing and then end up feeling another, you’re making something called a forecasting error. In this case, your forecast. Forecasting errors are incredibly common in combination with bad habits. You convince yourself this time is going to be different and then end up regretting your decision.
Doing this once or twice is natural, but what happens if you make the same forecasting errors over and over again, it’s gonna make you feel worse. It’ll take its toll on your self-discipline, so be realistic with yourself.Just because something seems like a good idea at the moment, it doesn't mean it actually is. Click To Tweet
Social media impacts are more than just your thoughts and your move; it also damages your relationships. It pulls you away from your friends. It creates a whole bunch of unnecessary tension, and it weakens the bond that the two of you share.
Just imagine you’re grabbing lunch with your friend, you’re excited to see them and tell them what’s been going on in your life, but they spend the whole time taking pictures of their food and updating their story. They smile when other people like their posts, but they’re barely paying attention to you. Now wouldn’t that drive a wedge in your relationship?
This happens all the time for people who overuse social media. Their friends feel neglected, and social media changes their priorities. They start to value virtual connections more than real ones, and before they know it they’re actual friends start to fade away.
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Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S.
Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults
Jealous Of Your Facebook Friends? Why Social Media Makes Us Bitter
Facebook’s emotional consequences: Why Facebook causes a decrease in mood and why people still use it