Social Media: The Next Cigarette
What was once the cool Marlboro Man of the 50s, is now the trendy Instragram “influencer.”
Very quickly the tide of social media is turning, and people are beginning to see social media for what is really is, the next cigarette. It’s fun and cool, until all of the sudden you realize it’s not.
Study after study is showing us that social media use is bad for our wellbeing. It’s addictive, makes us less happy, and increases feelings of jealousy and anxiety. Just like cigarettes, many of the features that make social media negatively impact our lives are intentionally programmed into the platforms, all in the name of increasing “engagement” for advertisers.
Yet despite these known negative side effects, these platforms keep us sucked in:
- Influencers are dominating our news feeds with staged pictures of themselves living your dream life.
- Your friends posting their highlight reels, unfortunately feeling the need to show the (false) best version of themselves.
- Notification icons giving us the oh so little dopamine kick when somebody acknowledges our life.
- And the ads… your life would be a little better with that new piece of clothing, car, or vacation, right?
In addition to the health concerns, there is also the issue of privacy. Every data point possible is being collected on you every time you use social media. Your content, the posts you engage with, your location, the web pages you visit, are all being farmed and sold as part of their revenue generating plans. You are the product, not the customer. Don’t forget that.
Social Media’s False Benefits
A lot of people stay on social media, despite knowing it’s drawbacks, because of benefits they falsely believe to be true.
Staying In Touch With Friends – Are you going to lose contact with your friends if you are off social media? Of course not. Not real friends at least. Those who have quit social media will quickly tell you how much better their social life is now that they don’t have to see the “fake” side of so many people.
Planning Events – I will admit, I have missed an invite to an event or two that I would have received had I been on Facebook. But honestly, I probably wouldn’t have attended. Everybody that cares will text, email, or tell you about a party they are having in person. With enough people not on social media nowadays, it’s common practice to invite people through more personal means.
Relieving Boredom – As the saying goes, boring people get bored. When you first quit social media altogether, you probably will find that you have extra time in your day. After you get over the initial urge of “I’m bored so I’ll pull my phone out” problem, you’ll quickly find that you have better focus and are more engaged with what is going on around you.
Sharing Pictures – There are other means of sharing pictures with family and that don’t require you participate in social media. I send pictures of our daughter to my parents through text message or by sharing Google Photo albums. It’s a more personal way of saying “I think you will enjoy these pictures,” versus mass sharing your family photos to a large group of followers.
How To Quit Social Media
So you want to quite social media, but you are not sure how to start?
Simply put, just do it.
Trying to “cut back” your usage, or “temporarily stopping” is as desperate as it sounds. If you want to live a better, more fulfilling life, one of the best things you can do for yourself is quit social media.
Go to each platform, go into your account settings, and delete your accounts.
Why compare social media to cigarettes?
They are both addictive.
They both are/were perceived as cool to do.
They both are scientifically shown to be harmful to your health. One increases your risk of cancer, and the other increases your risk of living a less happy, less fulfilling life.
At the end of the day, I believe social media will be lumped into into the same place as cigarettes in our society. It won’t go away, but those who respect themselves will stop using it. The social media companies will try to adapt their platforms to make them “better for you”, but eventually the reality will be understood.