By Courtney Whitaker
Social media. It is something that we are all familiar with and most of us use in our daily life; so much so, that it can often become as natural for us as breathing.
However, are there points when it can be unhealthy?
According to Entrepreneur.com, “The average person spends more than five years of their life on social media.” Furthermore, according to Statista.com, the average consumer spends two hours and fifteen minutes on social media daily. This is a lot of time spent using social media websites and apps, but what is the effect of it all?
From my findings, it seems that there are a mix of positive and negative outcomes attributed to the use of social media. According to one study in Washington Post, social media, overall, makes most teenagers feel better about themselves, not worse. This article states, “Very few teens say that using social media has a negative effect on how they feel about themselves; many more say it has a positive effect. Twenty-five percent say social media makes them feel less lonely (compared with 3 percent who say more); 18 percent say it makes them feel better about themselves (compared with 4 percent who say worse); and 16 percent say it makes them feel less depressed (compared with 3 percent who say more).” On the flip side, according to SmartSocial.com, there are also some downsides. According to this article, “young people who spend more than two hours a day on social media are more likely to report poor mental health, including psychological distress” (symptoms of anxiety and depression). It has also been linked to insomnia and in some cases, poor body image. This brings us to the question; is social media good or bad? Does it produce more positive effects or negative? Does it cause more harm or good?
Personally, I believe it is all about balance. For those of us who are writers or bloggers, social media is almost a must. It is expected that we will use social media to create a platform so that people can find and have easy access to our writing. Furthermore, many businesses use social media as a way of advertising their product, and many individuals use it to keep up with the activities of their family and friends who they may not see all of the time.
I have a friend who lives in South Carolina who just announced her pregnancy through Instagram. If I hadn’t seen that update, it may have taken way longer to find out about it. I have countless friends who have posted about their wedding announcements, relationship statuses, and accomplishments to their social media pages. These things help me to feel connected to them, even though I don’t have the chance to see them often.
On the contrary, I have also had to make a conscious effort about monitoring my social media intake. Too much time on social media can make me feel anxious, and fall into the trap of comparing the everydayness of my life to the highlight reel of the lives of others. It can make me feel discontent and at times, more disconnected from the world around me, defeating the very purpose that social media was created to fulfill. It can also turn into a massive distraction from the tasks that I need to complete throughout the course of my day, such as homework and writing.
To conclude, social media, like most other things, is a matter of moderation; much like Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.Ecclesiastes 3;1-8 KJV
Just as with other forms of entertainment, such as television, movies, and recreational activities, social media is something that is best consumed in balance; allowing ourselves the chance to consume social media, but never allowing social media to consume us.
The Bible: King James Version