I do not mean to sound old-fashioned or condescending. This is not going to be an article about why social media is a curse of humanity. I see many advantages in using it; however, I also believe that its many drawbacks are often overlooked.
Every time you decide to invest your time into something, it has to be a conscious decision. Weighing all pros and cons, understanding the opportunity cost and the long-term benefits should be your mandatory steps before deciding upon using a certain service.
Yeah right, mom – you would probably quip. However, I would retort that YOLO does not mean that you can mindlessly embark upon all opportunities that life offers. You only live once, and your time is limited. You need to distribute it in a manner that reflects most vividly your innermost dreams and desires.
Social media steals a lot of that valuable time. Let’s explore more deeply all those dangers that you tend to ignore when using these services.
The Fear of Missing Out
FoMO is uncannily pervasive in the Internet generation. There are so many enticing events to visit, magnificent places to explore, new people to meet. Scrolling down your newsfeed you see your friends trying out all those experiences. You are not in the photos. You become anxious.
FoMO drives people into insanity as they try to catch up with everything their friends are doing or plan on doing. They may not even consider their own actions – they just want to keep abreast with the world that is persistently moving forward.
If those people miss out on an opportunity or social gathering, they feel like their whole world collapsed. Stress and anxiety are their permanent companions. They cannot allow themselves to have a less exciting life than their friends from high school.
If you feel like it sounds familiar, this is a red flag. Go meditate for some time, single out your priorities and accept the fact that you cannot take a shot at everything. FoMO is not something you should experience on a regular basis. This is a pernicious feeling that you should avoid at all costs by disconnecting from its main source – the social media.
The Any-Benefit Approach
This concept is correlated with the FoMO. People who try to justify their intense usage of social media often go into a long tirade about its numerous advantages. However, the important thing to consider is not the benefits, as there are some in any activity. The principal matter to take account of is whether those benefits are profound enough for your life and what negative repercussions ensue as a result.
Again, think about your central aspirations. Let’s imagine it’s graduating from college with a decent GPA and finding true love. It is palpable that social media is not likely to help you earn good grades. Conversely, odds are high that it is going to be your major distraction. So, in this regard, capping social media usage is going to be rewarding for this long-term goal.
What about true love? It is true that the number of couples who met on the Internet is growing exponentially. However, what is the real contribution of social media in their relationship? Most likely, they met there, but after a bunch of online chats arranged a live date. So, here social media is going to be conducive for your objective, but only on the initial stages.
The key is to be mindful of your underlying desires. Getting many likes is, of course, enjoyable, but is it really the purpose of your life? Do not let social media engulf you. Choose the most important benefits and arrange time for them. Do not settle for anything. Do not forget about your dreams under the social media pressure.
If you are doing something right now that only means that you are not doing something else. For example, if you are browsing the profile of your estranged friend that means that you are not reading an interesting book or doing research for your coursework.
Assessing the opportunity cost in any activity is crucial. If you think that you will have time for everything, you will not. Choose only those activities which yield the most benefits for your long-term goals. Do not get trapped by a desire to please everyone on Facebook as first of all you need to take care of the essentials in your life.
Not all opportunities are worthwhile. Some people really need social networks to promote their business or for job-related tasks, but for most it is a time-eater. The worst part is that in most cases it is an unconscious choice.
So, if you want to be successful, whatever it means for you, control your time and the opportunities you pursue. Try to use social networks only when you are absolutely exhausted and cannot do anything else that requires more cognitive efforts.
Very often people mention the abundance of friends they have on social networks. However, here I have only one question. How many of those friends will notice your disappearance?
Seriously, it is an interesting and sobering experiment. Just disconnect from any social network for some time without any notice. See, who will care. I can almost guarantee that the number will be closer to 0 than you think.
It has been long-established that the number of likes is not an indication of a person’s popularity or connectedness with other people. You can have a billion likes and no real friends. Unfortunately, social networks create this illusion of importance that is hard to dispel.
Maybe, instead of spending time on a witty post you should call and arrange a meeting with your friend. Social networks are fun for if you want to share their thoughts or talk about your hobbies with the like-minded. However, do not overestimate the depth of these encounters. Otherwise, you may end up all alone.
Here I mean that time where your brain turns off under the influence of social media entertainment. You may spend hours clicking and browsing, but at the end of all this, the emptiness will lurk inside. The problem is that you just spent tons of time in an unconscious state of mind, engaging in vapid readings and fruitless conversations.
Blacking out doesn’t only derail your work time; it can also destroy your leisure. Instead of rejuvenating yourself with a good book, movie or even an article, you would end up feeling exhausted and lost, unable to comprehend what just happened to you.
Social media have this destructive power on your psyche. If you want to lead a fruitful life, you need to be conscious of your activities and organize your time wisely. Do not let social media cripple your plans and take away control over your life.
Again, I am not saying that social media are pure evil. You can reap benefits from its usage by doing it moderately and wisely.
It is important not to be technophiles and see both advantages and disadvantages of any technological tool. Do not be blinded by the overall frenzy over new apps, social networks and websites. Just like with anything else, choose what works best for you personally.