Confessions of a Social Media Addict
By: Sia Minhas, Contributing Writer
I found myself waking up before the sun was out, instinctively reaching for my phone to check social media. The familiar grip on my phone was comforting, it became the first and last thing I looked at, every night. Eventually, it became a problem. I was carrying my phone everywhere. I couldn’t focus on anything else and would become bored quite quickly without my phone. I knew I needed a break. I begrudgingly deleted TikTok and signed out of my other social media accounts. It was difficult but I saw significant improvement in my mental health. Social media has centered our lives for so long we’ve become dependent on it, deleting social media allowed me to focus on things that I once deemed unimportant.
It can be difficult not to check social media, looking for new comments on your post or new followers. It’s even more difficult to get rid of these apps completely, but I did it and it has been amazing. Social media has enveloped every part of our lives. This graphic gives a comprehensive and interactive chart of social media usage spanning over 15 years. It is incredible to see how popular social media has become. Social media, much like everything else in the world, has pros and cons. It’s important to take breaks and not depend on social media constantly. Below are some tips of mine that have helped me during my social media detox.
The Toxicity of Social Media
Social media has been a focal point of the Gen Z experience. It’s how we communicate, connect, and learn. However, the allure of social media has proven to be toxic for our mental health. Here’s a breakdown of why we’ve become so obsessed with apps like Instagram and Snapchat. The McLean Hospital Org website says that 81% of teens in the US use social media. Social media was designed with the intent to keep us hooked. The likes, reblogs, comments, and follows reinforce a feeling of happiness and arguably euphoria. Experts at the McLean Hospital Organization say, “The platforms are designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments.” It can also lead to misleading information and advertisement. “When there’s a filter applied to the digital world, it can be hard for teens to tell what’s real and what isn’t, which comes at a difficult time for them physically and emotionally.”
Replace Social Media With Productivity
Deleting social media gave me lots of free time, so much free time that I didn’t know what to do with it. Here are my recommendations to replace social media with something more productive. The first is this article that lays out how Peck (the writer) had minimized their unproductivity and what they chose to do instead. Peck lays out four experiments they used, indicating what they eliminated and what they implemented instead. Using apps to track our social media usage is a great idea. Being able to visualize what we think is another five minutes of our favorite episode or a couple of 15-second TikToks can be eye-opening. Apps like “Forest” grant us the ability to build beautiful trees from a little sapling depending on the time frame from 10 to 120 minutes. If you attempt to leave the app and open any other apps that have been blocklisted (Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube, Netflix, etc.) your tree dies. It’s these very apps -entertaining yet punishing- that keep us occupied with another goal. I use the free version on my laptop to avoid watching Netflix during my chemistry lessons. The IOS version is $1.99 and the Android version is free. Another favorite of mine is Todoist. I use it on my laptop and iPhone to keep track of different tasks. They can be color-coded, set with reminders/alarms, and can be split up into sub-tasks and projects. Here’s a compilation of many more productivity apps for every cluster you can imagine. This was my biggest struggle with social media, it distracted me from schoolwork and other responsibilities. Detoxing helped combat that and my other struggles with social media were also fixed once I realized that I was able enough to step away from social media.
It can be difficult to feel productive and content when social media has consumed every facet of our lives. We’ve become entirely dependent on social media; receiving likes, gaining followers, and scrolling mindlessly with no end in sight. However, there are ways to relieve our obsession with social media, and these tips can help. This isn’t about completely vacating social media or going off the grid. It’s the opposite. It’s about managing how we use social media and creating a space where we can focus on other/more important things like schoolwork and your family. Our identities are not dependent on our social media presence, yet that’s all it feels like. I hope implementing these tips can be as useful as they’ve been to me.