Is Social Media Ruining Your Life?

Scott Repasky
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For Better or Worse

Social media has definitely changed the way we interact, and it has allowed us to be more connected than ever before. But while social media is a great tool, many people are taking it way too far.

While social media can be very beneficial to your career and have an impact on how you communicate and connect with your friends and family, it can also take over your life. If you find yourself unable to properly balance social media with your everyday responsibilities and activities, it’s time to take a break.

Turn off Your Feed… Sometimes

One of the reasons we feel like social media is a huge time suck is because we're constantly checking it. We can't help ourselves. Once we boot it up, we’re constantly scanning the feed to see what is happening throughout the day.

In order to reign in social media, consider looking at it only a few times per week and only at specific times. This way, you won’t be checking it all day long and you may realize that you really don't need to be on it that often. The time you save from checking it non-stop can be used for more important things like spending time with people or on activities that make you happy.

Our World Without It

I like to think we'd be more productive at work, more relaxed at home, and more connected with our communities. I would be taking my newborn daughter out for a picnic in the park, rather than playing with her in the 3ft square of green space between the grilling area and the tennis courts. I'd be sticking zucchinis with a cocktail stick for French garden gnomes, rather than spending my precious Sunday carving a giant potato out of a piece of wood.

We'd be spending time on things that really mattered to us, rather than just spending more time doing almost anything. And you know what, I think our lives might just be better off without it.

Ending a post with the line "I think our lives might just be better off without it" might not be all that convincing, but that's not my goal here. It's my opinion and I'm entitled to it. I think social media invades our privacy, impairs our communications and precious little else. I don't think it's the root of all evil though, just part of the old path.

Satisfied in the South

If you asked mainstream media or Internet media journalists the biggest story of 2013, you’d probably hear stories about the NSA, Boston Marathon bombing, the Aurora theater shooting, the Royal Baby, and maybe the Chris Dorner Manhunt.

But here in the South, we know the biggest story in 2013 was the mild, uneventful weather.

Unimaginable disasters, unimaginable tragedy, unimaginable heartbreak, unimaginable accomplishments, unimaginable challenges, an unimaginable situation… whatever you want to call it, we know why 2013 has been one of the easiest years to live through.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s always good to have a story to tell. A story is fun, it’s interesting, it gets your attention. It can strengthen your business when used appropriately, and it can strengthen your friends and family relationships when shared with appropriate discretion and compassion.

It’s just that when the only story everyone is sharing is the same story, sometimes your world gets boring.

Country of Consequences

Too many information sources make us more reactive.

A question was posed on Twitter this week, “If you had no cell phone, no computer, no TV, no radio and no newspaper, no internet, no conversation with other human beings, would you know what’s happening in the world today?”

The answer is “yes,” but we’d be taking the long way. Five years ago, you’d walk down the street; look into house windows and at bulletin boards; talk to people; and be home in time for your favorite TV show. People read newspapers and magazines. We’d get the intelligence digested and delivered to us. No longer.

Now, we are more “smarter” than the average citizen and we rely on this information machine that delivers incisive and insightful knowledge to us every minute of the day. Yes, it’s very easy to get news on the web. But is it the best way? Not really. And here’s why:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Social media can be a fantastic platform for communication, keeping in touch with old friends, and learning about new and exciting things in your community. You can follow celebrities and learn about their businesses. You can network with businesses and companies and get word of sales and offers that aren’t available to the general public. Social media can be an excellent way to stay current without reading a newspaper, magazine, or flipping on the television every morning.

But unfortunately, more often than not, social media is used as a shallow filler of idle time for users. Users will check Facebook or Twitter just to spend a few minutes looking at pictures of cats and comparing which kid dressed the most adorable for the Christmas pictures this year. While this is what social media was designed to do (provide a distraction during your otherwise idle time), it’s not necessarily productivity or time well spent.

Another unfortunate aspect of social media is the constantly growing amount of people who overuse it. Many people use social media to stay in touch with friends, but while some users spend a reasonable amount of time on social media for this purpose, some users have a hard time using it in moderation. They constantly scroll through their Facebook feed or tweet and retweet things on Twitter. There are even those who use social media as a source of stress. You can read about someone who had a miserable day, whose life is going wrong, and in turn, get paralyzed by anxiety.

Methodology

It's a real question as to whether or not social media can be bad for you, but one thing is absolutely certain – the effects that social media can have on your life can vary depending on how you use it.

A study was conducted to assess the relationship between social media use and happiness. The results were published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. The study, which involved 140 undergraduates from the University of Queensland, found that of those surveyed, it was the quality of social interaction, rather than the number of friends, that was important.

In the experiment, which was designed to test the effects of self-disclosure, those who interacted using social media were happier than those who did not. Self-disclosure is the act of sharing private and personal feelings, experiences and emotions with a few or many people. The study, led by psychologist Bronwyn Tarr, found that social media users reported higher self-esteem, life satisfaction and better moods than non-users.

"The major finding from the study was that social media use was significantly associated with young adults' psychological well-being. People who used social media a lot had higher life satisfaction, they had higher self-esteem, they had more positive moods. And that was after controlling for how socially engaged they were," Dr Tarr said.

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