Why Social Media is Evil and How To Use It Properly
What’s more popular than religion, more trustworthy than politicians and more addictive than cocaine? No, it’s not Justin Bieber songs. It’s social media. There are a lot of good reasons to join the online community of maniac psychopath walking around, staring at their phones, but there are also an awful lot of other reasons to stay away. Here are some:
You’re 19 and you don’t have enough time to prepare your homework? You prefer texting to girls instead of talking to them? Even though you have thousands of friends online you often feel lonely? Well, if you haven’t heard, social media is evil. It’s not nuclear bomb kind of evil, it’s an arsenic poisoning type of wicked. It’s discreet but powerful long-term killer.1
You probably know that alcohol and cigarets might kill you, but you probably didn’t get the memo that social media might completely destroy you. It acts on the background, slowly killing you from the inside out. So parents, if your kid is abusing the social media channels, like you. It might be a good idea to pull the plug for the entire family.
But first, let’s see why we’ve started using social media in the first place:
Why We Use Social Media?
How long you have been using Facebook? One year, 3 years, so long you can’t remember when you first started posting updates about your vacations and “good moments?”
During this time of social activity, did you bothered to check their about page? The reason they exist?
I thought so.
Let me quote you what they have on their about page:
Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”2
Sound inspiring, right? It sounds like they are doing us all a favor. In a way, they are. Things have completely changed after Facebook took over our daily communications.
Thanks to social media, you can indeed stay connected with your loved ones. Thanks to the sharing functionality and the ability to make video calls, in particular, you can truly be up to date with what’s going on in the lives of your friends and family members if they are away. You can connect with people in your area. Find inspiration. Strengthen your relationships. Grow your business.
But we rarely use social media for the above reasons. Or we rarely use it for the above only.
We use the modern online communities mainly for these two reasons:
To boost our egos: How do you feel when you post something online? Inpatient in the beginning, even disturbed, before the first few likes. Excited when you get a few thumbs up and a few comments. Fulfilled, when you reach a good number of shares and approval from your friends. That’s why, you, me, even your mother, we’re all spending a good couple of hours to plan our future post. We use filters. We take a bunch of pictures till the set is perfect and we consult with the local librarian for the perfect text before we hit publish. We do all of this to get a dose of dopamine when the likes arrive. But more importantly, we do all of the above to feel important.
To feel good more often: A lot of times life is dull. A lot of times life is fucking boring. You enter the local Starbucks in the morning and you’re obligated to wait 10-15 minutes in line to get your perfect mocha latte. While you sit behind a sleepy stranger who is also craving for coffee, you can’t simply wait without doing nothing. You want to feel good and that’s why you reach for your phone in your pocket.
So, instead of staying connected with others we’re actually spending an awful amount of time online because we can’t stand being bored. And because we’re constantly thinking about “me.” Of course, the social media platforms are aware of these things, that’s why is so hard to quit.
How Social Media is Luring Us
Despite the obvious reason: pretty much everyone is doing it. There are a few other factors that influence our chronic addiction to social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter:
Easy to use: The apps, our phones, all sites online are built around social media these days. Our phones come preinstalled with social media apps and the pictures we take on our devices are a click away from posting it somewhere.
It’s fun and interactive: When you enter the world of social media you’re hooked right from the start. All the programs are built like slot machines. The colors and the sounds are designed to keep us inside.
Fast results: From very little, when we want something, we want it now. We’re hardwired for instant gratification. Even though while we grow up we learn to suppress some of our desires, we never really lose our eagerness to experience pleasure or fulfillment without a delay. Social media gives us exactly what we want.
They promise fame: You realize that you can become someone not long after you register online. Even if your offline (aka real life) present is not so glamorous, you can easily become whoever you want with the help of few filters and few no so genuine descriptions under your posts.
Even if the above is true, it still doesn’t explain why social media is evil. OK, you got me. However, what follows are a few reasons why social media should be avoided like a plague:
Why Social Media is Evil?
The main reason social media channels are insidious it’s because they are advertised and accepted as something free. “It’s free and always will be,” they say. But there are some costs involved that are not so obvious.3
The first one is obviously time. Spending time on social media is time you’ll never get back. And even though its fun to like pictures and chit chat about girls with your buds, it doesn’t lead to anything productive. According to some online publications, teens these days spent six hours a day on average online. The majority of the time they’re on Facebook and similar platforms. No matter how you look at it, six hours is half of your awake time. The main problem here is that while you’re surfing the social channels you lose grasp of time and “a quick 5 minutes check” can easily become one wasted hour.4
When you get used to the dopamine injections which you receive every time you enter your preferred social media, it’s hard to quit. Some even say that social media is more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. It doesn’t matter if the latter is 100% true, the facts are pointing towards one thing: our attention span decreases when we use social media. While you scroll through the pictures online, when you immediately get likes to your new post you begin to think that things are effortless. That everything is happening fast and that success doesn’t take long. However, we all know that this is not true.
What do you see when you enter Instagram? Perfect bodies; Flawlessly organized homes and desks; Unrealistically good looking people owning extraordinary awesome stuff. What happens when you see these things? Do you feel motivated to push harder or you’re more likely to think that you’re “not good enough,” thus feel depressed, a total failure? I bet it’s the second thing.
The Desire For More
One other nasty side effect of social media is the desire to accumulate more things while or after we’ve visited Facebook or whatever other platforms. It’s quite normal. Facebook earns money from ads. You’re bombarded by well-targeted ads the moment you enter the app. If your wife is pregnant, there is a good chance that you’ll see a lot of ads about baby bottles and strollers. But ads are only part of the evil. When you see your friends sharing their new rides, you kind of feel obligated to get a new car. When you see your best friend wearing a new skirt, you’ll quickly jump to a couple of sites to get one yourself. It’s even worse when the online guru we follow purchases something new. We want it because we think that this thing will make us better.
Our Communication Skills Suffer
The ability to communicate is a skill. And like any skill, you get better at it when you practice it more often. However, when we rarely talk to people, we lose our ability to communicate with them. Instead of wanting to meet in person, we send text messages to people. But no matter what type of work you do or where you live, being good at talking with people is always a quality you’ll want in your life.
Long story short, if we continue to prefer chatting online over talking in person, we’ll soon become these always wanting more, afraid of starting a conversation, depressed and lonely people who are famous online but are actually no one in real life.
So instead of spending every spare minute refreshing your tab, hoping for more likes, implement some of these techniques:
How To Use Social Media Properly
To some, deleting your social media accounts sounds as harsh as performing the harakiri ritual.5 That’s why, I recently wrote an article about unfollowing all of your friends on social media. It turned out though, that people find the latter even more brutal.
People who are currently online can’t click the unfollow button or delete their accounts not because they feel like they are betraying their friends. They don’t do it because they’re afraid that they’ll miss out on something important (FOMO). Their desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing is greater than having more time to themselves.
But let’s remind ourselves the idea behind social media once again: “…give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family…”
If you really think about it, I mean, really think about it. You’ll figure out that you can stay connected with friends and family without having to spend 6 hours a day going through their pictures. You can simply call someone and invite him to go for a walk. If he’s (she is) living in another country or state, you can again, call him to catch up. It’s that simple.
If you’re really spending half of your day online, chatting, liking and commenting other people’s profiles, you’re living someone else’s life. You’re troubling your mind with other people’s worries. Instead of spending your time, doing what you want, what you care about, you’re basically wasting it.
If you’re fine with the previous, that’s OK. I mean, it’s your time. But if you find it hard to concentrate and you often complain about not having enough time for yourself, you might implement some of these things:
Don’t use it: If you can suppress your desire to accumulate meaningless likes, I’ll suggest to stop using social media. To delete your account or to unfollow everyone online. Start small, though. Take a break from social media for a couple of days – 3, 5, 30, the more the better. It will help you understand that you don’t check your account because you care about what’s going on, you check it because of boredom.
Use it for inspiration: There are a lot of great artists around the world and social media is a great way to see what others are doing, thus “steal” ideas. This, however, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, you can improve your product, business, or start such if that’s your goal. On the other, after viewing what others are doing, you can feel really down. That your project sucks and that you should abandon any activity. Don’t go that road. Everyone started from somewhere. Observe what others are doing and iterate over your ideas.
Use it for communication: Using social media for communicating with others sounds obvious but as we mentioned, we don’t use it for that. We go online to distract ourselves when we’re bored, unfortunately. But it shouldn’t be like that. I personally use social media to chat with others only when I need to. When I need to ask someone something, I reach out.6
Organizing events: The tools available in some social media platforms are great if you want to organize and promote your event. But don’t focus so much on the online community. Focus more on the live gatherings. Use the tools online only to boost your reach.
Follow only people who can teach you something: A couple of months ago, I unfollowed everyone on Facebook. Most of them don’t know about that – and don’t care. I decided that I’ll only follow people who either inspire me or create things I enjoy myself. This simple act fuels my work. Instead of skimming through 100 posts that are about “my new shoes” or “my new car,” I see how Elon Musk is trying to colonize Mars and I can see when my favorite authors will publish their new books. This way, I don’t feel depressed that I’m still wearing my old shoes and at the same time, I’m inspired to do more things that can help other people.
Share your work: If you’re a content creator, video editor, a photographer, being online is crucial for your success. Clearly, people are obsessed with social media and not everyone will agree that quitting is important. By sharing your work online you can reach to more people. Of course, you need to be cautious. Also, choose one channel only. You don’t have to be everywhere. Usually, one social media account is enough.
Some Closing Thoughts
For some reason, we failed to realize the grand idea behind all social media tools. That is, that they are tools and we need to treat them that way. Don’t let social media apps like Facebook and Instagram waste your time. Use them only when you need them: i.e. to share your work, chat with others when you need to chat, follow only the people who inspire you.
There are plenty of people who are only waiting to argue with you when you comment on something. But rather than spending your time liking statuses and responding to online trolls, there are other more pleasant things you can do with your time: actually talking with people, creating more meaningful stuff, reading, learning, teaching others, spending more time with your family.
My personal advice: Don’t care so much about “being online.” Everyone can exist online. Care more about being valuable to people when you’re online.
Arsenic has been called “The King of Poisons” for a reason. It’s virtually undetectable and can cause painful end.
“It’s free and always will be” is what you’ll see on Facebook’s home page.
The resource about the mentioned study can be found here.
If you don’t know, this a Japanese suicide ritual. This ritual was initially performed by warriors to avoid falling into enemy hands, and to attenuate shame and avoid possible torture. It involves cutting the stomach.
Also, Facebook video calls are really good. When I’m traveling, I call my girl via the Messenger app and the quality of the call is awesome.