The Darker Side of Social Media: The Lighter Side of Life

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Social media is a blessing. It’s also a curse. It brings people together and simultaneously allows people to be their very worst selves. Society as a whole depends too much on social media. We constantly check our Instagram for followers, Twitter for retweets and Facebook for likes. But there’s something to be said for giving yourself some time away from the online world.

For a week last summer, I got rid of all my social media accounts. Having already deleted Snapchat a few years ago because I felt I was using it too much, I deactivated my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and deleted the apps from my phone.

Image: flickr.
Credit: flickr

The first few days were difficult to say the least. I felt at a loose end. You really don’t realise how long you spend scrolling through your Facebook news feed until it isn’t there to scroll through! I also found myself feeling a bit out of the loop, which is quite sad really, as friendships existed and were successfully maintained before social media, but we’ve just got so used to keeping in touch with people online that we forget how to do it when we don’t have access to our social media accounts.

But oddly enough, it was peaceful. I quite quickly realised that all this information I was provided with on social media, was largely superfluous. Do I need to know where someone bought their skirt and how much it was? No, I don’t. As cliché as it sounds, I felt free. I suddenly had so much more free time! I had a very positive and productive week and actually felt sad at the thought of getting my social media accounts back. So, I permanently got rid of Instagram and Twitter, and kept Facebook, but try as much as possible to use it sparingly. And you know what? I feel much, much happier.

Image: wikimedia.
Image: wikimedia.

Research done by GWI suggests that each day, the average Briton spend nearly an hour and a half on social media. That’s a lot of time you spend in the virtual world, not the real one, doing things that don’t actually make you any happier. Judging by this, Brits on average spend nearly 550 hours on social media each year. Considering the average working week is between 30-35 hours, 18 working weeks a year on social media, really is quite a lot of time spent online.

Reportedly, there is a strong correlation between mental health and social media, and often it’s negative, meaning that the more time you spend on social media, the unhappier you become. And when you think about it, it’s true, how does knowing what someone else is doing make us any happier? Well generally, it doesn’t. Research has shown that you’re actually much better off without having all these online accounts, or that if you do, that you carefully regulate your time on them. Don’t take away from this article, that you should cut out all social media immediately, because that’s not doable for a lot of people, especially those who rely on their accounts to get stuff done. Instead, take away that it’s actually a good idea, as hard as it may be to get started, to have a break from social media, even if it’s just for 2 days! You’d be surprised at the difference it makes.

More articles in The Darker Side of Social Media
  1. The Darker Side of Social Media: Blue Whale
  2. The Darker Sides of Social Media: SnapMaps
  3. The Darker Side of Social Media: Snapchat’s Race Problem
  4. The Darker Side of Social Media: The Lighter Side of Life
  5. The Darker Side of Social Media: Effects on Employability
  6. The Darker Side of Social Media: Cyberbullying
  7. Darker Side of Social Media: Internet Stalking
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Law student at the University of Southampton.

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