Social media: friend or foe?


By Claudia Dupé, The Croft Sub-Editor

The Croft Magazine // We need to talk about our unhealthy relationship with social media. If you’re anything like me, you have an addiction to address and a serious need for a social media cleanse.

Our generation is reliant on social media in many aspects of life. Despite Facebook perhaps not having the same meaning for us as it did ten years ago, we can’t deny its prevalence in student culture. From connecting us to our friends and work peers in group chats, to advertising events, it keeps us in the loop. Twitter and Instagram are platforms which are often outlets for creativity and expression, as well as sources of inspiration and even a means to stay politically informed.

But amidst all this is a crisis in which our mental health is at risk. By living through our phones, our sense of reality and personal identity become warped as we become accustomed to some of social media’s toxic traits.

Unsplash / Daria Nepriakhina

Studies have shown that social media has a negative impact on our mental health and the list is extensive: anxiety, lack of focus, lower sleep quality, loneliness, isolation, fear of missing out, low self-esteem, lower self-satisfaction and depression. Social media can also impact our wellbeing as students by distracting us from the more important aspects of our busy lives.

Heads in phones, absorbed: we become disengaged and withdrawn from the real world.

Many of us already feel spread too thin in the millennial age, without the draining and controlling force of social media which pushes our thumbs to pick-up our phones and mindlessly scroll through our feeds.

After doing some research I decided that a bit of healthy self-analysis of my affair with social media was overdue. My findings did not fail to shock me with the disappointing sting of truth, but nonetheless, here they are exposed with a dash of shame:

Staring in disbelief at the statistics, one thing became blatantly obvious: I am an Instagram fiend. I love Instagram... but I also hate it. In just one week I had opened-up Instagram 135 times and devoted 4 hours and 37 minutes of my precious time to the app.

135 times I had exposed myself to Instagram’s relentless bombardment of advertisements and posts which instil in us unrealistic expectations – often promoted by idolised ‘influencers’.

Through a veil of filters and photo-editing, the site’s content is often warped; resulting in a digital façade which we let ourselves buy into.

A pressure to be ‘picture perfect’ and a compulsive urge for instant gratification through likes/comments/followers is a superficial way to seek validation and measure our worth. Although we may feel somewhat triumphant in condensing memories into an “Insta-worthy” post, Instagram is often a cause of problems surrounding our self-image, such as its tendency to increase our insecurities as we compare ourselves to others.  After considering all this, I decided to take control of my codependency and take a five-day detox. Here are the results:

By restricting my social media use to messaging purposes only, my screen time had dropped by 58 per cent. Admittedly, it took a while to stop automatically picking up my phone to open up Instagram or Facebook, but after a day or so I began to break the habit and guess what? I didn’t miss it.  Sorry Instagram, it’s not me, it’s you.

If you feel like you also need to take a step back from social media or at least part of it, here are some rules to follow:

Tip: Be self-critical in order to assess your situation with social media.

As Dua Lipa said: Don’t pick up the phone. Use your will power and resist the urge. Turn off push notifications and use app restrictions to set daily usage limits to help.

Stop refreshing your feeds. Chances are, nothing major has happened in the last five minutes.

Cut the crap and unfollow/unsubscribe. Unless the content is inspiring, motivating or entertaining then it can probably go. Those sources of Facebook/Insta envy are not doing your self-esteem any favours.

Have a social media hiatus. Sometimes you just. Need. A. Break.

Be present. Practicing mindfulness will help you refocus on the important things.

Featured image: Unsplash / Prateek Kaytal

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