You probably have it and if you don’t, someone else you know probably does. Do you take pictures of your meals and post them? Do you video everything that “seems” exciting? Well, maybe you're not that extreme. But maybe you do go on social media when you’re bored. But what does boring mean, are you bored whenever you don’t have something immediate to do? If you go on your phone right now, how many hours do you think it would say you’ve been on it, “social networking?”
My point is, whether you’re conscious of it or not, social media is everywhere. It’s always on and the content is always increasing. But the more and more time we spend on social media means more and more time we are on a screen and not experiencing life. So I think it’s worth a conversation; it’s worth knowing some of the truths behind social media and its negative effects before you or someone you know starts taking out your phone when your significant other is proposing to you – ironically I saw a video of someone doing that while I was on social media myself. First, let’s look at some statistics of social media use, so that you can understand how many people use these sites if you don't already. According to PewResearch, “72% of the public uses some type of social media.” – that’s almost 240 million people in the United States alone. Moreover, PewResearch in a 2018 article states through a survey that “95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one” and “45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.” But why does this matter? Well for starters, social media use has been known to increase negative effects like isolation, fear of missing out (FOMO), depression, anxiety, cyberbullying, and even self-absorption. But more than that, social media is a drug. According to an article by Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes, “when you get a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical messenger called dopamine along a reward pathway, which makes you feel good.” But the problem is this dopamine spike is comparable to drugs, and highly addictive ones. The point I’m trying to make is that whether you are on social media for 10+ hours or only for a couple of minutes, every time you get a notification you get dopamine surges just like you would from drugs. So essentially, social media is getting you “hooked” on the response the same way that drugs get you “hooked.”. I must preface this, I know how hard it is to acknowledge social media as unhealthy. If you’re reading this I don’t think you can say, “oh, this doesn't apply to me, because I’m not addicted.” First, that statement probably isn’t true, one of the key things about addiction is that you don’t know you're addicted until you're addicted. Hopefully, this article can at least be useful in making you aware of your social media use and reinforcing how much of a problem social media truly is. Finally, I can’t say social media is all bad because it’s not. I think we all owe a lot of convenience, and appreciation for what social media originally represented. It’s cool to be able to post things on an online platform, to talk with so many people even if you’re very far away from each other. However, messenger, text, and other chats proved the same online connecting with less of the distractions that Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook bring. So no matter what. I just want to make you aware of the social media issue and the fact that the agendas of these tech companies are far from what they claim to be. They want your attention because it gets them money, nothing else. So before you go on your phone again and tap the yellow, blue, or pinkish icon, think maybe today I won’t be using social media.