By now you’ve probably seen countless of articles arguing against social media. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that platforms like Facebook and Twitter probably aren’t good for our mental or social health. We all take issue with staring at a screen for several hours a day, and yet we continue to do so.
I’ve deactivated my Facebook account several times before in attempts to live a more productive life. I always come back. And even as I’m writing this on my laptop, I’m considering opening a tab on my computer to check Twitter. I’ll own up to my problem.
Social media, in theory, is a good thing. It’s a place to connect with the people you love. Whether it’s through pictures, videos, funny posts, or encouraging words, social media is supposed to be a positive experience that allows you to be closer with friends, family, and even strangers. To be fair, it’s a good idea, and it can be very useful.
But much like life itself, social media isn’t always a positive experience. Aside from the wasted time spent looking at your phone or computer screen, social media can actually add to a feeling of disconnection if you’re not careful. And many people are not careful.
The problems I’ve been having with it lately stem a lot from negativity. Tonight I spent some time with some good friends. One of which left before the others, and right after getting home she decided to post a Facebook status about us and how we had made her feel excluded in our get-together. Granted, now looking back, I can see how she felt that way and I understand. What I take issue with is her little effort to try to communicate with us what she was feeling. She didn’t talk to us about it much before she left, and she didn’t even bother to text or call any of us to tell us about it. Instead, she decided to talk about us (not by name) passive-aggressively on a public domain.
Most of us have all been guilty of it. A friend or family member does something to upset you. You don’t want to confront them about it so you flee to Facebook or Twitter to share your thoughts. It’s an easy habit to fall into. Again, I’m not denying that it’s something I haven’t done before. But it’s certainly something I’ve been trying to be better about.
I feel like for so long now social media has been a negative force on my life. I’ve had friends get upset with me for seeing photos or tweets or status updates involving me with other friends. They see photos of me with some of my other friends and are upset because I’m with someone else besides them. Or maybe they get upset because they weren’t invited to tag along.
Either way, these are things that the person wouldn’t have knowledge of if it weren’t for social media. For example, if I didn’t have a Facebook account, I wouldn’t be able to see my friend’s status updates about what a great time they’re having with their other friend. I wouldn’t be able to get jealous because I’m sitting home alone on a Friday night with no plans. I wouldn’t be able to form irrational thoughts in my head because of constant delving into people’s private lives on a public domain.
For a public place, social media has gotten pretty personal. There are some people who do a much better job with keeping their private lives separate from the public life they want to display on social media, but there are always going to be people who overshare. And even when you don’t overshare, it’s still unsettling to think about how much information people can obtain about your private life (who you were with last weekend, where you went, what you did) on your Facebook page or your Twitter account or your Instagram profile.
Even after all of this, I still understand the appeal of social media. Without it, I probably wouldn’t be keeping in touch with many of the people that I do. I probably wouldn’t be meeting new people through common interests and experiences. It still can be a force for good. But when people write passive aggressive Facebook statuses about their friends for the world to see, when people get a little too upset over little things they see on social media, when prying into people’s private lives becomes a norm, I think we have a problem.
Everything needs to be taken in moderation, and social media is no different. I’m still going to use Facebook and Twitter and Instagram because they’re things that help me keep up with people that I care about. They’re things that help me feel connected to not just friends and family, but also the outside world. I just have to remember that they’re public domains not for things that should be kept private. I have to remember that spending too much time on there, and taking everything I see on their too seriously, is not good for my mental health my relationships with other people. I also have to remember to disconnect often, and go out and live my life without the crutch of media for a social experience.