Social media is highly addictive, so let’s be honest, we all check our Instagram and Facebook daily. Whether it’s tagging friends in memes, reading about celebrity gossip or terrible articles from the daily news, we’re all doing it. Many of us wake up in the morning to check who’s had what for breakfast, or which of our friends has the audacity to go for a morning run at some ridiculous hour of the morning. It seems that for most of us our curiosity and desire to procrastinate is causing us to become highly addicted to what is, mostly crummy content. However, it’s not so much the type of content we’re consuming, it’s why we’re consuming it, and more so its impact on our mental health. Is filling up your life with cute puppy pictures, Snapchats from fitness fanatics you’ve never met more important than your own mental health and well-being, or more so, your life and future? You may not be aware but your highly addictive behaviour is greatly changing the way you behave, interact and communicate with others. It’s also affecting how you feel about yourself. Have you ever seen an image online or read a status that has suddenly filled your mind with feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, depression or loneliness? I know I have. Every time I see a picture of a happy couple, smiling baby, friend on holiday or even someone I don’t know with the "perfect body", I find myself becoming swamped by an imminent myriad of black emotions. I'm not sure why I feel this way, or why I even go back for more, maybe I’m addicted. So it got me thinking, how much is too much time on social media and when does it start affecting your mental state? I strongly believe social media has a profound effect on us in many ways, for good or for bad, you be the judge. I believe the fundamental problem lies in people’s innate craving for social acceptance and recognition online. Many of these platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have become a breeding ground for people to gain approval and social acceptance from others. A place to measure and define your identity through the metrics of your social online popularity and following. It’s this type of behaviour that has created a foundation for feelings of rejection and self-worthlessness in others. Not only this but the problem also lies beneath our curious minds and stems from the technological algorithms embedded within many of these social media constructs. Many of these platforms are programmed to only display content we consistently engage with. Sounds great doesn’t it? However, the problem is twofold. On one level it’s giving us what we want and need, but on the other it’s fuelling our addiction, changing our behaviour and influencing who and how we engage with people. It also limits our outlook on life, changes our perspective and isolates us from others. We become so fixated on the beliefs, opinions and customs of others that we start to adopt their way of life whether we want to or not. Our minds become encrypted with thoughts like "I’m not good enough", "I’ll never be as popular as them", "I wish I could be like that". I know I’ve had these thoughts, and unfortunately it’s this type of thinking coupled with an addiction to social media that’s causing people to become mentally unstable.
If you find social media is consuming your life, filling up your spare time or affecting your relationships, then maybe it's time to think to yourself, is it worth it? Take the first steps towards concentrating on yourself and understanding that your social addiction is a temporary distraction from reality. It's time to look up!