In recent weeks, a few of my friends have made the decision to delete their social media accounts, leading me to question the reasoning behind this. They made the conscious effort to delete various platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.
I have written previously about social media use and how it may not be an accurate portrayal of our lives, but when they told me they deleted every form of social media they had, I was genuinely shocked. While I am aware of the detrimental effects social media has on our happiness and mental health, I had never considered deleting my accounts entirely.
But, in talking to them about their decision, I have to agree (not that I have the willpower to ever do that). The argument for deleting social media is quite sound. For example, in looking at Snapchat stories, how many of those stories actually increase your happiness? How many do you actually pay attention to and retain?
For me, I often find that I just click through them and when a friend references her story to me, I frequently never remember what it was — I have to look back to it. Snapchat stories may also leave watchers feeling less happy — it often features friends together and someone may view that story who was not invited to the event.
Snapchat, along with other social media platforms at times do increase happiness, but often leave viewers with less happiness at the end of the day — the net effect is negative in my experience.
Social media is also not the best at portraying our lives. We all use social media to highlight the best or funniest aspects of our lives, but in reality, it is not always fun and games — we do have stress, anger and tough times.
The idea behind social media is that it connects us; it connects us with our high school friends and our family and friends we have made throughout college. It is another way to stay up to date on the lives of those we know. But how much can you actually learn about someone from these outlets? Sure, I can see who people had lunch with or how they spent their Friday nights, but I rarely learn something of substance.
So the question is, why do we use it? And should we stop? I know myself. I know that even though I see the detrimental effects social media has, I know that I have zero willpower in deleting anything from my phone. While I cannot cut it out of my life entirely, I can do things to minimize my use. I can actively be aware of when and how I use social media. I can stop looking at it in my five minute walk between classes. I can stop looking at my phone while with others in person.
There are many things we can do to minimize the harmful effects of social media while not cutting it out of our lives completely — as long as we are actively aware of our use and attachment, we are making progress in fixing the problem.