From Pinterest to Vine, Snapchat to Secret, it seems like every time a new social platform pops up, we’re all ready to jump on board. And why not — after all, social media helps us to be more social, right?
Oddly enough, there’s a lot of evidence accumulating telling us social media does quite the opposite. Most of this evidence is anecdotal or experiential, backed by a few surveys and some early research. But if you’re starting to obsess about checking your social platforms multiple times each day, you might want to consider some of the negative effects too much social media can have on your life:
1. You’re lowering your self-esteem
There’s no quicker way to feel bad about yourself than to start comparing yourself to other people — especially to the idealized images we like to present for ourselves on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. One really interesting survey indicated that women often deliberately post unflattering photos of their friends (ouch) while posting the most attractive photos of themselves.
Depending on what platform you’re using, you might read about your friends’ great new jobs, look at pictures of the fabulous new home they’re furnishing, or view the magnificent results of their latest fad diet. All of which are bound to make you feel miserable in comparison.
2. You’re pissing off your friends
That’s your real-life friends, you understand. The ones who are sitting on your couch trying to have a conversation with you while you stare hypnotized at your smartphone. Or maybe you don’t have friends who want to hang out with you anymore. Why bother, when you can text, tweet and take endless selfies to share with them?
3. Either you’re a troll, or trolls are making you crazy
Your own experiences tell you this is true. People act like they’re invisible on social media — even when they’re using their real names. We’re rude, we’re thoughtless, and we’re often cruel online. And whether or not you’re one of the bullies, you’re raising your stress levels simply by being exposed to all the smack talking. If you find yourself muttering angrily about something you read on a social platform, be careful! You might be turning into a troll yourself.
4. You’re missing out on real-life experiences
There’s nothing wrong with taking photos at special events. That’s how we save memories for the future. But it’s a big mistake to spend all your time taking photos, making 6-second videos and posting or tweeting about your dinner. How about enjoying your food — or your party, or your football game — instead?
5. You’re taking chances with your privacy
If you had any doubts about this, Edward Snowden should have cleared those up for you. There’s no such thing as online privacy. At the very least, something you post on a social platform could turn up to bite you in the rear at a later date. At the very worst, posting too much personal information can make you vulnerable to data theft, stalking and all kinds of nasty hacking.
6. You’re snooping on your partner
Admit it. With all the information that’s available, it’s hard to resist checking up on your past and present partners. But no good ever comes of it — constantly monitoring your partner will inevitably lead to arguments. And if you’re spending your time combing your ex’s social accounts, well, you’re kind of a stalker.
7. You’re losing sleep
Ever notice how you can stay awake all night glued to that little screen? It’s not just because you love your social platforms so much. The blue light emitted by your smartphone, tablet or computer screen actually reduces the amount of melatonin released into your body — and the hormone melatonin helps you to feel sleepy and keeps your sleep patterns regular.
8. You’re numbing your mind
It’s astonishingly easy to get all wrapped up in social media. It’s kind of like watching TV endlessly, except somehow it feels more productive. But you know it’s not. Spend a little time on creative pursuits, get outside and enjoy the sunshine, or set a few long-term goals and start working toward them. Who knows? You might end up with some interesting news to share with your Facebook friends.