Do we need a social media detox?

Social media is certainly the most predominant drug of the twenty first century.

Perhaps not the kind that leaves you hanging round dark corners looking for your next fix, but it certainly has that addictive nature that means that we just can’t kick it.

There’s practically a detox from every other thing we do, so what I wonder is why are we not asking the question of whether we need a detox from these digital platforms that have become so intertwined in lives? We are habitually returning to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram whenever there is a split second opportunity, without awareness. I don’t suppose we are really gaining anything from flicking every newsfeed as the kettle boils, but thumbs seems to have a mind of their own. It is this resolute comfort of the digital that is unnerving. It is referred to as a pocket pal, a companion in times when we need reassurance, yet despite the initial rush of dopamine we get (when receiving new likes,) research is increasingly showing that our seratonin levels decrease after using sites like Instagram.

computer_handcuffs It would certainly be unfair to totally discredit social media entirely. It has its obvious benefits. It is to the 21st century what mobiles were to the 90s.  It provides us with an amazing sharing platform, communication and lifeline. It also connects us to people that socially, geographically, or culturally we might never have known.

It is interesting that social media is now also used to document every inch of our lives. I have a relatively adequate knowledge of what my friends have they done and are doing, because of the steady flow of virtual authorship. I feel this somewhat takes away the excitement of when we do actually meet up and chat. There is a lack of ‘new news’ because more often that not we have heard it through cyberspace. No longer do we get to hear the details before a photo pips us to the post.

It is certainly amazing that we can meet or sustain relationships at ease with people on the other side of the world…For those of us with family and friends a million miles away this is a really valuable thing, but beyond this there is also a narcissistic side of social media. Through social media it is possible to few hundred people that we don’t know, and probably will never know and feel like you do know them. What is captivating is the idea of a picture perfect, amazing life, brain, career, talent, clothes, boyfriend, shoes…the list goes on. Socail media paints a picture and allows us to indulge in those qualities. But I’m not sure what I am benefiting from this. I think that these facades – because I do believe they are just that – can be misleading, and I am quick to remind you (and myself) that nobody has the perfect life no matter how glossy and appealing they make it seem. We should not compare ourselves to people that we don’t know, nor subconsciously disparage our own lives. As I write this I appreciate how easy this is to say and hard to maintain. Although I am incredibly grateful for the things that I have, and the things that I have achieved a consistent reminder of what I haven’t is ever present. And, so, a break from these sites might make me allow myself that peace of mind a little bit more.

What I am trying to get at is that perhaps a detox from social media might be something to think about. Focusing on the ‘me’ (that is living and breathing me, in the present), rather than the virtual one. It would do us a world of good to put the phone down for a weekend, stop indulging in other peoples edited lives and really enjoy our own. So, the next time you go to scroll through your newsfeed ask yourself whether you really need too. Today I’m leaving mine alone.

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