Have you ever gotten stuck in the social media rabbit hole? You hop on your favorite social media platform to share a picture or a video, and then end up scrolling, liking, watching, favoriting, and friending for a couple of hours in a time span that seems like minutes? Yep, that is the social media rabbit hole. It’s vast, and it’s designed to keep you engaged.
Algorithms build social media sites. The algorithm essentially decides what shows up in your feed, what you might be interested in, suggests new connections or followers and even groups that you may be interested in following. Yes, the algorithm is based on your interactions on social media, but the algorithm is also designed to keep you engaged or to steer you in a certain direction. The algorithm can impact your beliefs about the world, the people around you and the groups that you join. Essentially, the algorithms can shape your overall outlook on what is happening around you, and why it is happening.
Keeping Your Attention
The prevalence of social media is on the rise. More than half the world uses social media, and on average people spend around two hours a day on social media. Social media organizations are constantly evolving to try to keep your attention. Snapchat and Instagram, for example, have both recently launched video components to rival TikTok. Instagram has introduced Reels, which enables their users to record and share video clips, while Snapchat has announced Spotlight, another way to share videos. Not to mention new looks, new emojis and other integration features. For social media platforms, it’s all about keeping you interested, coming back to their platform and going down that rabbit hole.
But, what’s so bad about watching a few videos, reading updates about friends and decompressing for a bit? It could lead to depression and anxiety. Often times while on social media, individuals inadvertently compare themselves to others. Others that may be sharing photos and videos that highlight their best moments. Moments that may not show what is really taking place. This can cause people to second guess the happiness in their lives. There are even studies that speak to the depression and anxiety symptoms that can occur.
People aged 19-32 who used seven or more social media platforms have more than triple the risk of displaying depression or anxiety symptoms compared to those who use between zero and two. (University of Pittsburgh study)
Of course, there are also privacy concerns to consider. Once you open your social accounts, you also open yourself up to the apps, their advertisers, and, without the proper privacy settings, pretty much anyone on those same social platforms. This creates the opportunity for advertisers to constantly put their messages in front of you, and for hackers to learn more about you through your social profiles.
Tips on taking a Break
So, what’s the answer? Close all of your social media accounts? It’s not necessary to go to that much of an extreme, but it might be wise to go through a bit of a break with social media, using these tips:
- Delete the accounts/apps that you truly don’t use, or that are not bringing value to your life.
- For the accounts/apps that you consciously decide to keep, review the family and friends that show up in your feed. Remove those people that you don’t really know. The ones you are no longer engaging with. And those that don’t bring happiness to your life.
- Set your accounts to private, and ensure that only those that you want to see your information, can see your information.
- Remove the apps from the home screen of your mobile device. Making it harder to access the app can help you to stop and think twice before accessing it.
- Turn off the app notifications. It’s not necessary to receive a notification every time something happens on social media.
- Stop the scroll/watch cycle. If you need to give yourself a time limit, then do it.
- Schedule time to be away from your phone and do something else. Put it in a drawer, in a different room or on another floor. The goal is to get it away from you.
- Add an app that limits your time on social (Freedom is one example)
- Turn your phone off at night when you are with family, during important events, or when you need a break.
Even a short break can do wonders for people, and it may help you realize that you don’t need social media as much as you thought. You may even end up with a new hobby or get back into an old hobby that brings you happiness during the break. And who doesn’t want a little more happiness and peace of mind?
Not buying it? Don’t take our work for it! Are you one of the 195.15 million and growing Netflix subscribers, you may want to check out The Social Dilemma. I found it to be genuinely chilling & a great topic of conversation with my teenage daughter.