Do you reach for your phone and scroll through Facebook or Instagram the moment you wake up? I’m not surprised. Social media is a product of large companies and products are meant to keep us using them.
I’m not doubting the many good aspects of social media. Around 10 years ago, for example, I reconnected with my first-grade teacher (I was already in high school by then) through Facebook. I found out that she had moved out of the country, gotten married and now has three beautiful children. All thanks to social media.
But let’s not sugarcoat it: the misuse and overuse of social media has tremendous negative effects in our lives and in our relationships. It’s great to take a break from it once in a while in order to be grounded in what’s actually real in our lives, not what social media portrays as real.
Below are six signs that I believe you should consider to take a social media break—or quit completely.
You feel that your life isn’t as worth it compared to others.
Tempted to feel jealous about your friend’s trip to Europe while the Philippines is still on lockdown? Or about their gourmet lunch at a hotel while you’re eating adobo at home? Or that they’ve gotten a job promotion while you’re stuck with a lousy boss?
While we definitely ought to praise the good accomplishments of our friends, it does get tiring seeing everyone’s life seemingly so much better than ours. Note here that I use the word “seemingly.” Why? Because moments posted on Facebook and Instagram stories are but 0.1 percent of someone’s real life. While you might see your friend on Instagram having the time of their life, their parents might actually be going through an annulment. The point is that social media distorts the full reality.
And also: homemade adobo’s a wonderful dish. Don’t look down on it!
You scroll through Facebook for hours on end without even noticing.
I’m so guilty of this one. Before, the first thing I’d do the moment I wake up is scroll through Facebook. Or check how many likes a post of mine got.
When I started taking a social media break in late May (I deactivated most of my accounts), I was able to regain my focus on the present. Like Master Oogway in “Kung Fu Panda,” it’s freeing to remember that yesterday is a mystery, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present! Let’s be thankful for the gift that is the present.
You have a headache and/or your eyesight has become so bad.
This one’s a little more practical, more medical. I remember a report sometime ago that the Philippines is the most (or one of the most) active countries on social media. We spend hours and hours on it. Of course, naturally speaking, our bodies are not meant to view screens for 12 hours straight. So, let’s try to focus on taking care of our precious eyes.
You feel the info overload.
The human mind is somewhat like a glass. You can add whatever you want to it, whether it’s water, soda, tea or juice. You can even add in different things and mix them all together: iced tea with a pinch of lemon, perhaps?
But at some point, that glass will overflow. You cannot limitlessly keep putting stuff into it and expect everything to be okay.
Have we considered how much of an info overload we can get from following all those Facebook pages and Viber group chats? I’m not even touching on the issue of fake news yet. Perhaps that’s one reason we sometimes feel so tired after using social media: because we just see and absorb and see and absorb in an endless cycle.
It’s good to be informed about the world, for sure, but isn’t knowing too much also harmful? Do we know our limits? Remember: we’re only human beings in a very vast universe.
You want to find out who your true friends are.
I’ve spent more than 60 whole days without regular Facebook and Instagram use. Before going off for my social media detox, I took note of a list of people who I’d give my Viber number to, just in case they want to contact me.
What I found was that these people are the very same ones I actually wanted to stay in touch with. They’re also the ones who’d care to keep in touch with me, too.
So, unknowingly, by going on social media detox, I was able to sift through my Facebook “friends” and saw who my real friends are. Trust me when I say that despite my social media hiatus, I’ve still been keeping in touch with my true friends. I have not felt left out.
More incentive for real-life interactions
And last but not least, one thing I also re-realized recently is that if I want people to really get to know me, I want them to know the real me, not just the online me. I want to get to know the real them, not the online them. Cheers to eating together, watching movies together, going to Timezone, shopping and feeling tired together at the end of the day. Nothing beats it.
I’d like to end with a disclaimer: I believe that in and of itself, social media isn’t bad. Countless people even use it to make a living by selling their products and goods online. But I believe that we also have to be incredibly prudent and wise in making use of it. Is it already using us? If so, maybe it’s time to rethink how we use it—or maybe even scrap it from our lives entirely. —CONTRIBUTED
The author is a full-scholar graduate student at Yale University. Email him at [email protected]