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I've noticed how much social media use has turned sour. When I created social media accounts back in high school, it was just plain fun. I would update people on what I was doing, thinking, eating, and posted a lot of pictures with my friends.
Once I got into college, I felt as if social media transitioned into being a place to overshare information about yourself, positive or negative. People are using apps like Facetune to where they're unrecognizable. People lie and over-exaggerate the truth for attention. Knowing too much information (that's probably over-dramatic and inaccurate) about others makes it so easy to get too involved with their business and also to compare themselves to others. I think it's human nature to be nosy, but to an extent. I don't think its human nature to be bamboozled by opinions, hate, bullying, etc. constantly at the touch of your fingertips.
I think I saw the downfall of positive social media use when businesses and corporations saw opportunities to increase interaction with their audience. I don't think any of us knew that large companies could learn more about their customers and analyze them by mining their data, making millions off of it, and personalizing ads per user. It's neat, but creepy, right?
I witnessed social media shift from people connecting, interacting and sharing to people arguing, canceling each other, and seeing advertisements way too often. What happened to the raw, real, funny content? Yes, we have our memes, but it's hard to see my friends' pictures and tweets in a sea of companies promoting products and services over and over and over...
Once consumers caught on that you can make a lot of money from social media, a huge market was born: Influencers. Anyone with a large following, aesthetically pleasing social feed, attractive appearance, and the willingness to exploit their lives to the whole world can be an influencer. Most of the influencer content are paid posts. Most of their clothes are sent from clothing brands to influencers to advertise their merchandise.
I wanted to share my experience using social media as of April 2019, so you can see how a 23 year old might feel after social media usage.
"It's 7:45 AM and I couldn't sleep any longer. The first thing that popped into my head was to check my phone in bed before starting my day. I unlocked my phone to see what I missed.
I started with Twitter. It told me that I need to protect the Earth, pay attention to debates, and to go see 'Endgame,' even though I couldn't stand 'Infinity War.'
After being annoyed by being told what to do, I switched to Instagram. This app invited feelings of Imposter Syndrome, self-doubt, and negative comparison. Instagram told me that I might as well not post a picture unless I get a witty caption and the angles right.
I haven't even gotten out of bed yet, and my confidence left before I even started my day. So, I switched to Snapchat. First thing I did before I replied to a friend was choose which filter covered up my morning drool and under-eye (designer) bags.
I thought to myself, "Alright, enough of that negative, lack of confidence babble. You're great." So I switched to LinkedIn to feel good about my level of education and experience. Before I could even get to my profile, I saw tons of people post about their dream jobs. I saw people accepting opportunities left and right, making it seem easy. It made me feel as if there was no room or hope for young people left in the industries."
I felt all of this back in April of this year. I had just graduated from college a year ago with no full-time job and no idea what to do. It is now August 2019, and you wouldn't believe how I feel about social media now.
It's so unhealthy, negative, and fake. I used to think I wanted to have a prospering career in social media, but I'm good now. You wouldn't believe the lengths that people go to in order to receive a lot of likes or go viral.
Even though the number of likes is just a number, it can determine how much money someone could make. In one's mind, it could determine if someone will feel better or worse about themselves. In one's mind, it could determine how great your art is or isn't.
Although that social media won't be going away any time soon, how do we use social media healthily and not get lost in the social media sauce?
Create Your Own Social Media Block
For my iPhone users: There is a screen time widget on your iPhone that calculates how much time you spend on social media daily and weekly. It tells you what times you are on your phone and categorizes what apps you're spending most of your time on. You can set a time limit for how long you spend on certain apps and it is totally customizable!
For example, Facebook and Twitter are overwhelming to me the most, so they don't exist on my phone. I limit myself to two hours a day of Instagram (for my job), Tumblr and Pinterest (for inspiration), and YouTube (for entertainment). Try it out for a while, you could be surprised at the number of hours a day you spend on social media.
Get a Hobby
Looking at the amount of wasted time on social media apps can quite sad. It got me thinking, "What did I use to do for fun growing up?" Instead of spending time online, I could've learned how to hand sew or play my favorite song on guitar. Instead, I was probably 10 tweets deep into a juicy thread that could be made up for all I knew. There are other things that bring me joy, and I want to focus on those.
Talk to People IRL
Our world is dying, so I think it's best that we get out of our homes and enjoy the quality time spent outside with people we love. When's the last time you met up with your best friend for drinks to catch up? Have you spoken to your friend who is going through a rough time? When's the last time you saw your family? I promise they care more about what you post online. No one is reading your long captions about living your best life. They want to hear it from you in person.
At the end of the day—do you. If you want to become an Instagram influencer—which I have considered doing myself for a second—then DO IT. If you want to share funny things that happen to you on Twitter—then DO IT. Just think twice before you post. Could it harm someone? Could it trigger someone? Would it hurt to post a picture that doesn't get a lot of likes? These are just a few things to consider before posting anything on social media.
I want people to realize that not everything you see on social media is real or true. I know it's hard not to compare yourself to others, but that shouldn't undermine your own strengths and beauty. You are amazing. If you feel any negative way while on social media, shut it down fast. If you feel like you need to share some negative or hurtful information, get a diary or talk to a therapist (I highly suggest this). We can't let social media swallow us whole.