Getting Off Social Media

A couple of years ago, I was aimlessly scrolling through my social media when I received a notification that read, “Average Screen Time: 7 hours and 26 minutes.” That’s when I knew I was in desperate need of a change.

Social media is addicting. According to Jefferson Health, “Social media platforms drive surges of dopamine into the brain to keep consumers coming back over and over again.”

Dopamine, nicknamed the brain’s ‘feel-good’ chemical, is the main chemical that fuels addiction. Though I did not want to admit it at the time, I, like so many others, was addicted to social media.

I knew it was time to make a change. While social media wasted seven hours of my day, it also had other, longer lasting effects.

In an effort to save you from what happened to me, here are some reasons you should take a break from social media, coming from someone who loves and wants a career in social media.

  1. Social media leads to comparison. This is by far the most common issue social media users face. Users compare their appearance, jobs, financial status, friends, and family to people they have never met before.
    The worst part about this reality is that fake content leads to serious issues. Social media is a highlight reel of people’s lives; 95 percent of the time the content uploaded on social media is unrealistic and edited. This has contributed to unrealistic image standards for both men and women.
    Meg Smith, a sophomore nursing student, agreed, “Social media makes it so that we glorify celebrities and influencers. These people tend to post about their looks and extravagant lives to the rest of the world. When everyday people constantly see these unrealistic lives, that may lead to self-comparison.’’
    A study conducted in 2021 for the Journal of Psychological Research on Cyberspace found a strong correlation between social media use and eating disorders. The research found that the more individuals used social media, the more likely they were to compare themselves to others.
  2. Social media can contribute to isolation. Humans are inherently social beings; nevertheless, it’s nice sometimes to get away and spend time alone. However, too much of a good thing makes it bad. It is easy to fall into a social media rabbit hole and spend hours on your phone without even realizing you have been alone for too long.
    Ever since social media became mobile, it is more common to see a group of individuals out in public together staring at their phones. Evidently, isolation does not necessarily mean being physically alone. When people go out in public and rarely make eye contact with the people around them, that is isolation too.
  3. Information overload. There is so much information flowing through social media every second of every day. First, I like to go on social media to destress, not see 100 news stories about why I should be stressed. Second, social media is a breeding ground for ‘fake news.’ Most users do not have the time or energy to fact-check every headline, post, or story they see on social media. Regardless, seeing that much information at once can truly overload someone’s brain.
  4. Research studies have found that extensive use of social media leads to anxiety and depression. A journal article titled “A systematic review: the influence of social media on depression, anxiety and psychological distress in adolescents” includes a research study that found high social media usage rates lead to higher chances of depression and anxiety. While there are caveats and limitations in all research studies, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched that social media can have underlying consequences.
  5. Social media wastes time. This one is pretty simple— if social media is used too much, it will waste your time. I have nothing against taking a break from real work and diving into social media for a few minutes. Nonetheless, getting caught up and distracted by social media can contribute to unhealthy procrastination.
    “I feel like social media can be a good or bad thing. Like if you are spending your time scrolling through TikTok, that’s a waste. But if you are working or making money off social media, that’s a different story,’’ said Justin Arp, a sophomore business student.
    Now, I am not saying everyone needs to delete all social media and never go on their phone again. Rather, it is important to have a balance. Limiting screen time is necessary to keep social media a fun, relaxing hobby rather than an addictive wormhole of overwhelming and upsetting information.